UN HRC: Statement on the Situation of Human Rights In Eritrea

Human Rights Council: 26th Session: Item 4

Individual Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea

Oral Intervention

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)

Delivered by Elsa Chyrum

Thank you Mr. President,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, and Human Rights Concern Eritrea, welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and appreciate her ongoing and tireless commitment to her mandate.

Mr. President, the scale, systemic nature, and human toll of the   human rights violations detailed in the Special Rapporteur’s report defy comprehension. In her report, the Special Rapporteur describes indefinite national service, forced labour and migration, arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention in inhumane prison conditions lasting for years, and complete impunity for the perpetrators of these wholesale violations of international law.

Mr. President, Eritrea’s lack of cooperation with regional and international human rights mechanisms, including with the Special Rapporteur herself, should be decried by the Human Rights Council. In Resolution 23/21, the Human Rights Council called upon the Government of Eritrea to cooperate fully with the SpecialRapporteur, and to permit her access to the country. Since her appointment, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit Eritrea, including most recently in April. All requests have been rejected.

Mr. President, our organisations would like to publicly state our admiration and respect for the manner in which the Special Rapporteur has tirelessly sought to fulfill her mandate, in spite of the non-cooperation of the Government of Eritrea. We call upon the Human Rights Council to unequivocally condemn the grave human rights abuses outlined in the Special Rapporteur’s report, and further to renew her mandate, and to provide her with all necessary resources to continue her vital work.

Mr. President, the systemic, widespread and grave human rights violations against Eritrean civilians outlined in the Special Rapporteur’s report amount to crimes against humanity. Such is the severity of the situation, the Human Rights Council should give consideration to establishing a Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, similar to the Commission established to investigate and report on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I thank you.


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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