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Joint Statement on the Human Rights Situation in Eritrea
HRC 19th Session Joint Statement under Item 4
March 14, 2012

The following  statement was delivered by Somalia  on behalf of the following countries

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Somalia, St Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.

Madam President,

Somalia has been a strong supporter of the rights of the Eritrean people during their struggles for self-determination, even though this support came at a cost to Somalia.  Somalia is greatly concerned, therefore, at the deteriorating human rights situation in Eritrea.  After such a long struggle, the Eritrean authorities’ highest priority must be the rights of their people.

Madam President,

Somalia has itself suffered through long struggles.   Somalia has repeatedly asked the Human Rights Council for assistance in overcoming its own problems, and we now bring the situation in Eritrea to the Council in the hope that the international community can help Eritrea to avoid the nightmare situation that has plagued Somalia for so long.  For these reasons, Madam President, Somalia has the honour to deliver the following joint statement on behalf of over 40 countries.

The States that have joined together to make this Statement are deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Eritrea.

The Government of Eritrea has never held national elections and there are no political parties except the ruling party. It does not allow independent media or international NGOs to operate.

Furthermore, the Government of Eritrea severely restricts freedom of religion and of belief, including through the use of arbitrary detention and physical abuse.

We are especially troubled by reports of inhumane prison conditions, disappearances, arbitrary detention, and extrajudicial killings.

Many people continue to flee the country to avoid forceful conscription into mandatory national service which requires men and women to serve for an indefinite period of time, with no clear criteria for completion of service. The government has detained family members of persons thought to have evaded national service, and operates a shoot to kill policy on its borders.

We also recall that the Security Council in UNSCR 2023 has condemned the use of the “Diaspora Tax” on the Eritrean Diaspora by the Eritrean Government to destabilise the Horn of Africa, deciding that Eritrea should cease using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect the tax.  The Government of Eritrea to date has failed to comply.

Madam President,

The Eritrean Government has failed to address the two decisions by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which inter alia criticized the detentions of 21 prominent political prisoners and journalists in 2001 and called for their release.

As a result of our concerns:

  • We call on the Government of Eritrea to end its use of arbitrary detention and torture of its citizens, and to release all prisoners of conscience
  • We call on the Government of Eritrea to provide all relevant information on the safety, well being and, whereabouts of all detained persons, including persons missing in action, inter alia information pertaining to Djiboutian combatants.
  • We strongly urge the Government of Eritrea to grant UN special procedures as well as international human rights and humanitarian organisations and NGOs access to the country and to permit them to operate without hindrance.
  • We call on the Government of Eritrea to fulfill their international obligations and honour its commitments and abide by the terms of all relevant Security Council resolutions, including UNSCR 1907 (2009) and UNSCR 2023 (2011)
  • Finally, we invite the High Commissioner for Human Rights to brief the Human Rights Council on the ongoing Human Rights violations in Eritrea at the 20th Human Rights Council.