UN HRC 29: Statement During Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea

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Oral Intervention
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)
Delivered by Mr. Hassan Shire

Thank you Mr. President.

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea and appreciate the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea. The reports point to the gross human rights violations including arbitrary detention, extra judicial killings, indefinite national service and trafficking in persons all being committed against the Eritrean people by allegedly its own government.

Mr. President, our organisation is concerned by the massive flight of Eritrean victims as migrants, asylum seekers and refugees triggered by these human rights violations. The survivors are exposed to more threats across the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea and often endure more violations including human smuggling and trafficking as they struggle to find a safe place in Europe and the rest of Africa.

We decry the unlawful detention of prisoners for over long periods of time and the inhumane and deplorable detention conditions with limited or no access to water, food, fresh air or medical facilities including detention in metal containers some of which are buried underground. We condemn incommunicado detention and solitary confinement as a form of punishment contrary to international human rights standards.

We restate the Special Rapporteurs call to Eritrea to strengthen the democratic governance institution and guarantee the independence and impartiality of the judiciary to tackle impunity. We further echo the Special Rapporteur’s statement that respect for human rights is vital for a democratic state and that these rights should not be sacrificed for short-term political or economic gain.

We recommend the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea

I thank you.

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Human Rights Defender of the Month: Anny Kapenga

As a young student, Anny Kapenga used to cringe at the cult-like worship of Mobutu Sese Seko, the then Zaire’s President. By then, in the early 1990s, Zaire was still under one party rule, and calls were increasing for Mobutu to open political space to allow other parties to operate. In the meantime, however, all Zairians were expected to show affection for Mobutu wherever they gathered in public.

Students across Zaire’s schools were required to sing and dance adoringly before his (Mobutu)’s portrait every morning before they went to class, and all school scholastic materials were emblemed with his portrait. A young Anny never really appreciated the obsession:

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