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UN HRC 32: Addressing human rights violations in Eritrea and the UN Commission of Inquiry’s findings

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To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council

Geneva, 20 June 2016

RE: Addressing human rightsviolations in Eritrea and the UN Commission of Inquiry’s findings

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned civil societyorganisations (CSOs), write to express our grave concern about the EritreanGovernment’s continued and egregious violations of human rights. We urge yourdelegation to co-sponsor a resolutionrenewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation inEritrea and supporting the establishment of robust accountability mechanisms tofacilitate access to justice to the victims of human rights violations andcrimes against humanity in Eritrea during the 32nd session ofthe United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC).

The mandate of the UNCommission of Inquiry (CoI) was established at the 26th session ofthe UN HRC with a view to assess human rights violations documented by theSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. [1]The CoI’s mandate was extended at the 29th session and instructed to“investigate systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in Eritreawith a view to ensuring accountability, including where these violations mayamount to crimes against humanity.”[2]

On 8 June 2016, the CoI releasedits second report, which states that “there are reasonable grounds to believethat crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991,” andthat Eritrean government officials are responsible for crimes of enslavement,imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts,persecution, rape and murder. [3]

The CoI further found thatthere has been no change in Eritrea’s national service policy since the CoI’s establishmentin 2014, which includes the use of conscripts to carry out non-military work,including for State-owned and other enterprises. The CoI secured evidence thatreprisals, including extrajudicial executions, for evasion of conscriptionremain rampant. Most recently, on 3 April 2016, armed forces opened fire in thecentre of the capital Asmara, killing an unconfirmed number of young conscripts,who were being transferred from Tessney to Massawa, and attempted to visittheir families while in Asmara.

According to the UnitedNations High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 5,000 Eritreans flee thecountry every month as a result of the dire human rights situation, some riskingtheir lives to escape to Europe despite the dangers and obstacles they face inobtaining asylum.

Since June 2014, theEritrean Ministry of Information has refused to cooperate with the CoI whilepublicly claiming that the CoI’s research constitutes a “campaign of unwarranted witch-hunting of Eritrea by an entity whichhas clearly opted to instrumentalise human rights to serve political agendas.[4]In June 2015, the UN HRC’s President condemned attacks and intimidation perpetratedagainst members of the CoI during their mission to Geneva.[5]

In light of the lack of adequate national mechanisms to address the CoIfindings and the Government of Eritrea’s claim that the report’s findings are “extreme and unfounded charges withno solid and legal evidence to support its conclusion,”[6] it is incumbent upon the international community,including the UN HRC, to facilitate access to justice for the victims of theEritrean Government’s grave and systematic violations of international humanrights law, including those amounting to crimes against humanity.

Therefore, we respectfullyrequest your delegation to co-sponsor a resolution during the 32ndUN HRC session that:

- Renews the mandate of the SpecialRapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for one year; providesthe mandate holder with the necessary human and financial resources; andincludes in her mandate the promotion of and reporting on the implementation ofthe CoI’s recommendations;

- Supports the establishmentof a structure by the Office of the High Commissioner for HumanRights with a protection and promotion mandate, to assist in ensuringaccountability for human rights violations in Eritrea, especially where suchviolations amount to crimes against humanity;

- Requests the High Commissioner forHuman Rights to report regularly on the situation of human rights in Eritrea;and

- Transmits the report of the CoI tothe UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the UN Secretary-General.



Article 19

ChristianSolidarity Worldwide

Citizens forDemocratic Rights in Eritrea
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa HumanRights Defenders Project)

EritreanInitiative on Refugee Rights

Eritrean Law Society

Eritrean Movement for Democracy andHuman Rights

Eritrean Unity for Justice

Eritreansfor Human and Democratic Rights – UK

Freedom Friday

Human RightsConcern – Eritrea

InternationalFederation for Human Rights (FIDH)

InternationalService for Human Rights

Network of Eritrean Women

One Day Seyoum

Release Eritrea
Reporters Without Borders

Stop Slavery inEritrea

Suwera Centre forHuman Rights

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

[1] A/HRC/RES/26/24, 27 June 2014

[2] A/HRC/RES/29/18, 22 July 2015

[3] Report of the commissionof inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, A/HRC/32/47, 8 June 2016

[4] Eritrean Ministry ofInformation, “’Commission of Inquiry’: Unwarranted witch-hunting of Eritrea”,12 December 2015,

[5] InteractiveDialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, 29th Session ofthe UN HRC, 23 June 2015

[6] Statement by MrOsman Saleh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, 32nd Session of theUN HRC, 14 June 2014

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