A look into the newest UN Special Rapporteur Report (47-HRC) on Eritrea and the Shabait Rebuttal

What I will do is to take things side-by-side just to show how ridiculous things can become. Because, this is just showing how things are finessed and done. This is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Shabait) and how the United Nations operate. The lack of coordination and the lack of mutual consent. Which is the reason for this.

We know its getting hectic, when the Shabait response to the whole report has this headline: “Rumors Cannot be Presented as Facts”. That’s how they pop-it off. It sets the parameter and shows their ways. There is no middle-ground, but just throwing everything at it.

We know the Special Rapporteur Mohamed Abdelsalam Babike doesn’t have a nice job either. As he states early this: “given the lack of cooperation of the Government with the Special Rapporteur, who was denied access to the country, he collated the necessary information through alternative means”. Because of that he was forced to: “The Special Rapporteur conducted remote monitoring and held meetings with a broad range of actors, such as diplomats, human rights defenders, civil society representatives and academics. In addition, the Special Rapporteur collected first-hand information from Eritrean refugees residing in other countries, with a view to informing his assessment of the situation of human rights in Eritrea”.

In this regard, the Eritrean government gave him no choice but do things remotely. Still, they are saying this in their rebuttal about the method: “As with previous SR reports on Eritrea, the lack of reliable data, heavy dependence on biased sources, non-verifiable approach, and ignorance of Eritrea’s ground realities renders the methodology and the essence of the allegations tenuous and unacceptable”.

What is funny about this… the government says they want a reliable and another methodology, but dismiss and doesn’t make it possible for the Special Rapporteur to investigate in the first place. So, if you close the borders and doesn’t cooperate. How is he supposed to get the information in the first place? You cannot close the doors and also claim whatever information he collects as wrong. With this sort of look into it. It seems like the objective of Eritrea is to call everything bogus and lies, while not allowing people to look into their works. This is the United Nations and not just a random organization having a mission of some sorts. Therefore, this is just making things more suspicious in the end of Eritrea. That they don’t want information out in the first place…

When things gets really tricky, is when the Special Rapporteur says this: “The Special Rapporteur highlights that, as a member of the Human Rights Council, Eritrea should strengthen its cooperation with all human rights mechanisms. In particular, the Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to strengthen its cooperation with his mandate and engage constructively, and to enhance its engagement and technical cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which remains ready to assist Eritrea in the three priority human rights areas identified by the authorities, as well as in the implementation of the recommendations from human rights mechanisms, including those emanating from the universal periodic review”.

While Shabait says this: “Like every other country in the world, Eritrea faces challenges. However, the GoSE continuously works to address these challenges and improve human rights standards in the country. Accordingly, there is no “crisis” that warrants the targeting of the nation through HRC agendas and mandates”. When Eritrea answers the UN Special Rapporteur like this. You know the whole thing is bound to fail. The UN Special Rapporteur is there, because the UN appointed him. Not because his job is to undermine Eritrea. That’s just a fact and the government in Asmara clearly don’t want that. However, their hostility and lack of cooperation. Only opens up the questions… why are they hiding and not just giving way, if they have a perfect Human Rights record? Why are they not inviting and showing the greatness of the Republic?

Well… you go figure… right?

Then, you have this one, which is on the origin of the Tigray conflict. The Special Rapporteur says this: On 4 November 2020, tensions escalated in the region and an armed conflict erupted in Tigray when the Ethiopian National Defence Forces launched a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in response to reported attacks against the Ethiopian National Defence Forces’ military bases in Tigray by Tigrayan forces. The Ethiopian National Defence Forces were allegedly supported by Amhara regional forces and the Amhara Fano militia in western Tigray, and in particular by the Eritrean Defence Forces in northern and central Tigray”. While Shabait answers with this: “Emboldened by some governments, the Western media, and NGOs, the TPLF, by its own admission, unleashed an insurrectionist war in November 2020 after it was ousted from power in 2018 after 27 years of despotic rule in Ethiopia. The objective of this massive, premeditated and unprovoked attack that the TPLF launched on all the contingents of the Ethiopian army in the north was to totally neutralize the Northern Command which possessed around 80% of the EDF’s total arsenal. The TPLF killed several hundred non-Tigrayan soldiers within the Northern Command and its overall plan was to topple the central government once it had pacified the Northern Command”. As Shabait continues: “Subsequent plans included military action against Eritrea to advance its avowed “regime change” agenda as well as incorporation of Eritrean sovereign territories for its long-term, multi-layered, aims and aspirations”.

Here you see that Eritrea isn’t looking into their own actions or as a part of the tripartite alliance in Tigray region. No, they are shifting everything at the TPLF. That is an deliberate act. While the Special Rapporteur is looking at it objectively. That’s why the wording is so careful. The Shabait is going after the TPLF and their actions, but not stating anything about their own. Also, giving a history lesson of the misdeeds of the TPLF. While it is not saying it is currently involved any of it itself. Implying it is all justified and there is no reason to doubt that… While all three parties was preparing and launching the attacks on Tigray. So, they could easily blame the TPLF no matter what it did… and the rest is history and a conflict living on to this day.

What is further striking is this one, where the Special Rapporteur says this: “The Special Rapporteur welcomes the decision adopted on 22 March 2021 by the Council of the European Union, under the European Union’s global human rights sanctions regime, imposing sanctions on Eritrea for serious violations of human rights, including acts of torture, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings in Eritrea. The Council imposed restrictive measures on eleven individuals and four entities responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses in China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Libya, the Russian Federation and South Sudan”. When Shabait retorts with this: “Mention has also been made regarding EU sanctions on Eritrea amid the ongoing discussion to withhold development support in particular in the pretext of the unwarranted and worn-out allegations surrounding National Service and forced labor (paragraph 24) as well as other baseless human rights allegations. Any such pre-condition on development cooperation is unacceptable. Eritrea remains committed to the effective mobilization, higher organization, and creation of national capacity in the implementation of its development programmes. It is, however, equally committed to cooperation predicated on partnership, involving mutual respect and understanding. Thus, it rejects any attempts at intimidation, coercion, or harassment under the veil of human rights and development cooperation”.

Here we are seeing a stark contrast again. What is really significant. That Eritrea is against the sanctions. That’s to be expected, because who wants to be sanctioned and getting retribution. However, instead of letting people in and see that these things doesn’t happen. The Eritrean state is just retaliating. The UN Special Rapporteur only verifies the reports and the surrounding misgivings of the Eritrean state. Something the Eritrean doesn’t prove to be wrong. They just call it baseless, but doesn’t prove anything or say anything in significant in consideration with the alleged human rights violations. Which is the reason of the sanctions in the first place. The EU will have mechanisms where there is a need for burden of proof and evidence before sanctioning a nation. Which in effect has been enacted. Eritrea furthers the victimhood by calling it harassment and intimidation. That just shows they have no intent in changing its behaviour or try to prove their innocence.

The UN Special Rapporteur says: “The Special Rapporteur is concerned that the indefinite duration of military and civil service reportedly remains one of the main causes for the departure of Eritreans from their country. With the end of the state of war with Ethiopia, the Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to outline a timetable for reforms to its national service”. The Shabait answers with: “The causality inference (paragraph 40) suggested in the present report between national service and migration from Eritrea is unjustified and unacceptable. In line with the new development drive, as well as the emerging prospects of viable peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa, efforts will gradually be made to return National Service to its original duration. Moreover, a significant number of national service members have been integrated into the new remuneration system which improved the salary scale of the civil service”.

This here shows the trouble with it here. As the Special Rapporteur states an issue with the military and civil service in Eritrea. While the Shabait tries to dismiss that. However, there is no way this is explaining the Eritreans fleeing from these state programs, which is causing this. The Eritrean government is downplaying it. This just shows how things are… and therefore, we just know the ideals will not be answered. That was a proof of the beginning.

They are both ending with this, which is interesting. The Special Rapporteur states this: “The Special Rapporteur calls upon the Government to acknowledge the persistence of human rights violations and abuses in Eritrea, and to allow him and other human rights mandate holders effective access to visit all areas of the country and meet with relevant stakeholders, with a view to addressing the human rights challenges that it faces”. While Shabait says this: “It is time for the HRC to break with its 8-years long unproductive approach by terminating the mandate imposed on Eritrea. On its part, Eritrea will continue to expand and consolidate dignified engagement and international cooperation based on partnership and will continue its modest contribution to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Council, while working together with other members to depoliticize the Council and its agendas”.

This is how two worlds are colliding. A nation and a sovereign like Eritrea who is saying everything is baseless. While Eritrea isn’t opening up for the UN Special Rapporteur. Therefore, the allegations and the reported breaches of human rights violations aren’t investigated directly, but only proven by eyewitnesses in the diaspora.

The Eritrean state should consider another path, because this sort of retort isn’t safeguarding it. It is just opening up a plethora of questions. As it is not willing to open up. Shabait is just throwing shade. This sort of answer isn’t making any good grounds, but make you further questions the actions of Eritrea.

The UN Special Rapporteur is appointed and gotten a mandate from someone else. Shabait is only defending its state, but its not doing a good job. It is a hit-job, but not hitting the target. Unless, it was to make headlines in local news. Where they can look like they did something, which isn’t true. It did nothing… Peace.

Joint Press Statement Between the Federal Government of Somalia and the State of Eritrea (14.12.2018)

Eritrea: Statement Delivered by Mr. Amanuel Giorgio, Charge d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Eritrea to the United Nations During the UN Security Council Discussion on the Situation in Somalia (14.11.2018)

Djibouti: H.E. Mr. Mohamed Siad Doualeh Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the United Nations before the Security Council on the situation in Somalia (14.11.2018)

UNSC lifts sanctions on Eritrea: Still more of the Same-Same, but nothing different!

There are plenty who celebrates the lifting of arms-embargo, asset freeze and targeted sanctions on Asmara and the Eritrean Government, that is happening as the second triparte meeting happened over the weekend. The Peace Agreement with Addis Ababa and Mogadishu is a giant step in peaceful interaction and a better Horn of Africa. However, the Eritrean government is still the same one as before.

It is not like the Eritrean government has stopped their long military subscriptions, using military to do slave labor for the generals and so on. The Presidency of Isias Afwerki is still more of the same. Not like there are openness and trust in the good values. Not like there are any coming elections or any sort of civic enterprise coming to the homes of Eritreans. Therefore, lifting sanctions only gives the Afwerki Administration more leeway and more fiscal funding for their embezzling ways.

The Eritrean military is known for indefinite conscription of their military personnel. That why many has fled and even done what they could to seek refuge elsewhere. On the African Continent, the Eritrean government is the one with the highest amount of political prisoners.

There is most likely no change in the structures of Asmara or the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), which is a one-party state. A state where Afwerki has his fiefdom. With the 15-0 United Nations Security Council voting on the 14th November 2018 to end the sanctions. Will most likely give him more power to continue his rule. The leverage and the bargain chips the UNSC had over Eritrea is now lost. These was put because of interference with Djibouti and Somalia. The arms trading to terrorist groups there. Therefore, the peaceful transition of the latest month has been positive.

Still, the reality in Asmara is more of the same. Not like the PFDJ will be transparent, hold elections or even care for a free press. Not like the Afwerki regime will stop the enslavement, torture, imprisonment and enforced disappearance of political adversaries, these acts will continue. We know that elections will not happen, as the latest one was happening in May 2004. If it was held, it would most likely be a one-party charade to facilitate an official second term for the President and nothing else. As he has been the President without question since independence in 1994.

So, the legitimacy and the recognition from the world has come the way of Eritrea. They are not a piraya or a dangerous dictatorship anymore. They are just a dictatorship with an iron-fist. Who doesn’t deserve sanctions anymore, because of their diplomatic relationship with Somalia and Ethiopia. The peace has served them well. Clearly the Asmara has gotten well off with this.

They are not changing or even testing the leadership, but letting the external relationship help the internal problems vanish. However, the same structures, the same military and sole dictatorship is still there. Not like that has changed over the last few months. No, it is more of the same. Therefore, the ones who voted for this, should consider the ramification and the elites earning on the sanctions. As they will benefit from this.

Afwerki might have waited long, but he is off the hook. Even if he still makes his suffer and take away their freedom. The International Community isn’t hurting the state anymore, not in the way it used too. Let see what the consequences of this is, but certainly it will only do the administration good. Not the public, as they are the same one used by PFDJ, when they need it. Peace.

Eritrea: Press Briefing note on Attacks/threats by States against UN Human Rights Experts (21.11.2017)

Eritrea: Statement of ELS on the Protest of October 31 (02.11.2017)

The Eritrean Law Society (ELS) is closely observing developments that have led to, and that have followed after, the unprecedented civilian protest of 31 October 2017, which occurred in the heart of the capital city of Eritrea. The protest was prompted by the announcement of a drastic government decision that affected the status of educational establishments administered by Eritrean religious institutions. Another major motive for the protest is the arbitrary arrest of respected elders and spiritual leaders, notably Haji Mussa Mohammed Nur, who strongly opposed the government decision.

Although the details of causalities are not yet fully known, ELS is concerned by the fact that brute force, including live ammunition, was used to suppress the protest, which was nothing more than a peaceful demonstration against a drastic government measure affecting the lives of thousands of people. In our view, the protest signifies one fundamental reality. In today’s Eritrea, citizens have no choice of whatsoever nature in pursuing their individual and group aspirations, life plans, goals, and purposes. Eritreans do not also have access to independent and impartial institutions, including courts of law that can safeguard their fundamental rights and freedoms in the event these essential entitlements are wantonly violated by government authorities.

History dictates that no population can be ruled forever under the yoke of unbearable authoritarianism. There is an urgent need in Eritrea for a full return to a system of governance based on constitutional order, the requirements of democratic accountability, and respect for the rule of law, including the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the Eritrean people. ELS would like to take this occasion to make a call on the international community and those who can play a role by pushing for a full return to a democratic system of governance in Eritrea.

Meanwhile, the following reminder is also important for all peace-loving and justice-seeking Eritreans. We shall stay the course and remain vigilant against all sorts of divisive and cheap political machinations orchestrated by the authoritarian regime in Eritrea, its brazen apologists and messengers. It is always important to remember that the regime will make continuous recourse to methods that promote its narrow political agenda as well as frustrate the momentum ushered by the protest of 31 October.

Eritrean Law Society
Executive Committee
November 2, 2017

UN Special Expert report of June 2017 reveals the hardships of the citizens in Eritrea!

The government of Eritrea is usually keeping it low-key and not telling their stories. The nation which has since liberation from Ethiopia since 1993. Therefore, the long-term stay of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and their President Isias Afwerki, who is still in power. His use of the power and keeping it all close, is the reason that the state of Eritrea is like it is. The oppression of their own citizens and total control. That is the reason for the fleeing Eritreans, as well as the military service and tight-control of the industries. It is all in service of the Central Leadership in Asmara. Which doesn’t concern the citizens, they are being used by the EPLF and their needs. Therefore, every time a United Nations report comes out, it reveals new aspects and shows by the admission of the diaspora who are telling the stories that needs to be told. Since the media, the government and all parts of society in Eritrea is silenced by the President Afwerki. Take a look!

Support of Al-Shabaab and North Korea:

In 2009, the United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, primarily in response to Eritrea’s suspected support for Al Shabaab in Somalia. In its most recent report, the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea stated that it had found no firm evidence of Eritrea’s support for Al Shabaab. It also described the use of Eritrean land, airspace and territorial waters by the Arab coalition supporting the anti-Houthi military campaign in Yemen, as well as the construction of a permanent military base at Assab International Airport and a new permanent seaport adjacent to it.3 In November 2016, the Security Council noted the finding about the lack of evidence pointing to Eritrean support for Al Shabaab, but expressed concern for ongoing Eritrean support for other regional armed groups and lack of cooperation with the Security Council; it extended the arms embargo on Eritrea” (…) “February 2017, the Panel of Experts supporting the Security Council Sanctions Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) accused Eritrea of violating the arms embargo by buying military communications material from the DPRK. On 21 March 2017, the United States imposed sanctions pursuant to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) on the Eritrean Navy and any successor, subunit, or subsidiary thereof for prohibited transfer to or acquisition from DPRK of goods, services, or technology controlled under multilateral control lists” (Keetharuth, P: 5, 2017).

Arbitrary Arrests:

During the reporting period, the Special Rapporteur continued to receive reports of new cases of arbitrary arrest and detention. The reasons for the arrests appear to be those previously identified by the Commission of Inquiry, namely attempting to evade military service or trying to assist a family member in doing so; trying to leave the country; practicing an unauthorised religion; or offending a high-ranking Government or official of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, the sole political party in the country. The Special Rapporteur has received no official communication indicating that the Government has released arbitrarily detained prisoners or that it has provided information about the fate of high profile individuals subject to enforced disappearance” (Keetharuth, P: 6, 2017).

Food Supplies:

While some interlocutors told the Special Rapporteur that they had witnessed an active economic life during visits to Eritrea, with thriving markets and well-stocked shops, she heard from Eritreans in the diaspora that their relatives back home are struggling to meet their basic needs. While they confirmed the availability of food, they indicated that many households were unable to afford adequate and sufficient basic supplies, and were trying to cope with acute water shortages, especially in Asmara. As noted above, the recent UNICEF report confirmed this, indicating that half of the children are stunted. Reportedly, increasing numbers of people are leaving drought-affected regions in search of better living conditions. The ability to purchase food and other basic items has also been hampered by cash withdrawal limits which are still in place following the Nakfa currency exchange programme introduced by the Government at the end of 2015” (Keetharuth, P: 8, 2017).

Internet Freedom:

Since October 2016, reportedly, internet cafes must now require that customers register before being permitted to use the internet, allowing for the tracking of their browsing history. If confirmed, this new regulation would have an impact on the conduct of internet users and further restrict freedom of expression. In addition, frequent power cuts and very slow connections interfere with the use of internet” (Keetharuth, P: 8, 2017).

I think this things says a lot. The admissions and the connections to rouge elements prove the issues of Eritrea. This are just a few of them, there been more admissions in the past of the breaches of Human Rights, the lack of transparency and justice for the citizens. This proves the grand-issues of the Eritrean government and how they violate their own people. Peace.

Reference:

Keetharuth, Sheila B. – ‘A/HRC/35/39 – Eritrea’ (07.06.2017)

Joint NGO letter on Renewing the Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea (05.06.2017)

Geneva, 5 June 2017

RE: Renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, write to urge your delegation to co-sponsor a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea at the forthcoming 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. In view of the ongoing crimes under international law, including torture, enslavement and enforced disappearances, and violations of fundamental freedoms committed in Eritrea, the Special Rapporteur’s mandate remains an indispensable mechanism to advance the protection and promotion of human rights in Eritrea.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur was established at the 20th UN Human Rights Council Session in 2012 to monitor the human rights situation in Eritrea. From June 2014-June 2016, the mandate was also represented on the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (CoI). The mandate of the Special Rapporteur was extended in July 2016 to follow-up on the recommendations of the CoI. It has been instrumental in monitoring the dire situation on the ground, highlighting on-going violations and the failure to implement the recommendations of the CoI and in providing a crucial platform to help amplify the voices and concerns of victims.

The findings of the CoI and UN Special Rapporteur reveal that the Eritrean authorities have continued to impose a broad range of unwarranted restrictions on fundamental human rights, precipitating mass migration, including of unaccompanied children. Despite commitments by the State to reduce national service to 18 months, indefinite national service and forced labor persist throughout the country. [1] Persons who attempt to avoid military conscription, take refuge abroad, practice an unsanctioned religion, or who criticise government officials continue to be arrested and imprisoned for lengthy periods. [2]

The absence of an independent judiciary means that victims of these human rights violations have no recourse to justice at home. As a result, in Eritrea impunity persists and those who have been subjected to enforced disappearances remain unaccounted for.

In light of these concerns, we respectfully request your delegation to co-sponsor a resolution during the 35th UN HRC session that renews the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, provides the mandate holder with all necessary support, and urges the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with the mandate holder including allowing unencumbered access to the country.

Sincerely,

Africa Monitors
Amnesty International
ARTICLE 19
Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea
CIVICUS
Connection e.V
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa
Eritrean Lowland League
Eritrean Law Society
Eritrea Focus
Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights
Eritreans for Human and Democratic Rights – UK
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
Human Rights Watch
Information Forum For Eritrea
International Fellowship of Reconciliation
International Service for Human Rights
Network of Eritrean Women
PEN Eritrea
People for Peace in Africa
Release Eritrea
Reporters Without Borders
Stop Slavery in Eritrea Campaign
War Resisters International

Eritrea must free prize winning journalist, says UN human rights expert (03.05.2017)

Mr. Isaak was arrested in September 2001 during a political crackdown on the so-called G-15, a group of politicians, and journalists critical of Government policies.

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 3, 2017 – The Government of Eritrea must free journalist Dawit Isaak who has been awarded a prestigious press freedom prize some 15 years after he was detained, a United Nations human rights expert says.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, is also calling on the authorities in Asmara to release unconditionally all others detained unlawfully.

“The Eritrean authorities should stop the practice of arrests and detention carried out without legal basis instantly,” said Ms. Keetharuth, welcoming the award of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 to Mr. Isaak.

Dawit Isaak, who is 52 and a playwright, journalist and writer, moved to Sweden in 1987, where he later became a citizen. He returned to Eritrea only after independence in 1993 and was one of the founders and reporters of Setit, the first independent newspaper in the country.

Mr. Isaak was arrested in September 2001 during a political crackdown on the so-called G-15, a group of politicians, and journalists critical of Government policies. Some were detained and tortured, others disappeared. The last known sighting of Mr. Isaak was in 2005. His whereabouts now are unknown.

“The case of Mr. Isaak is emblematic of all those who have been subjected to enforced disappearances by the Government of Eritrea and remain unaccounted for,” said Ms. Keetharuth.

The Special Rapporteur recalled the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, which concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Eritrean officials had committed crimes against humanity, including the crime of enforced disappearance, in a persistent, widespread and systematic manner since 1991.

“The Government of Eritrea has an obligation to urgently provide information on the fate and whereabouts of all those deprived of physical liberty. This would be a first and long-overdue indication that the Government is committed to rebuilding trust with the Eritrean people,” Ms. Keetharuth said.

“By allowing independent monitors immediate and unhindered access to all places of detention, official and unofficial, the Government would send a strong signal that it acknowledges human rights violations of the past, while taking steps to improve the situation on the ground now.
“The arrests of Dawit Isaak and his fellow journalists remain the most visible sign of repression of freedom of expression. The Eritrean authorities continue to stifle all forms of expression that could be perceived as critical of the Government and its policies,” she said.

Ms. Keetharuth reaffirmed that freedom of expression was a basic human right, and a free press one of the tenets of a democratic society, providing a valuable check on potential excesses by government.