UNHRC32: Oral statement during Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

Human Rights Council: 32nd Session
Item 4 – Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

 East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Oral Statement
21 June 2016

Delivered by Ms Clementine de Montjoye

Thank you Mr President,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomes the second report of the Commission of Inquiry highlighting the extremely concerning human rights situation in Eritrea, and reiterates its recommendations to the Council.

Mr President, our organisation has been working on Eritrea since it was founded ten years ago. The Commission of Inquiry has brought attention to one of the most concerning human rights situation in the world today. Civil society in Eritrea has effectively been decimated, and at least 15 journalists are still being held in its insalubrious jails, detained incommunicado since 2001.

The limited access to the country has affected regional and international non-governmental organisations including our own. We cannot reach human rights defenders in the country who need our support, and those outside of the country are harassed and fear retaliation for speaking critically of Eritrea.

The Commission of Inquiry has found that the government of Eritrea is responsible for unspeakable crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, persecution, rape and murder, which gives them reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed.

Mr President, we are extremely concerned by the Government of Eritrea’s refusal to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry, and its lack of adequate national mechanisms to address the Commission’s findings. The Government of Eritrea’s rejection of the findings highlights the need for the Council to take steps to ensure victims of grave and systematic human rights violations, including those amounting to crimes against humanity, access justice.

Mr President, we echo the Commission’s call for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea to be renewed, and for the establishment of a structure by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with a protection and promotion mandate, to assist in ensuring accountability for human rights violations in Eritrea, especially where such violations amount to crimes against humanity. Finally, we call on the Government of Eritrea to immediately and unconditionally release all activists, journalists, and prisoners of conscience detained for exercising their rights.

I thank you.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.