U.S. Statement at the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea

35th Session of the Human Rights Council
As Delivered by Kathryn K. Keeley

June 15, 2017

U.S. Statement

Mr. Vice President,

The United States thanks Special Rapporteur Sheila Keetharuth for her service and appreciates her efforts to improve the human rights situation in Eritrea.

The human rights situation in Eritrea remains a very serious concern and Eritreans continue to flee their own country in search of opportunities and freedom.

It is imperative that the Government of Eritrea implement the country’s constitution and respect its provisions for independent executive, judicial, and legislative branches, including the seating of an elected National Assembly. The Government must also develop an independent and transparent judiciary, improve detention conditions, and release individuals arbitrarily detained, including political prisoners, journalists, and members of religious groups. We strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s call for the immediate release of Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, who remains under house arrest and in poor health, and are disturbed by recent reports of the detention of members of minority religious groups.

We continue to be deeply troubled about the indefinite period of forced participation in national service, which routinely exceeds the country’s stated 18-month limit. Ending this practice remains one of the most important actions the Government of Eritrea could take to improve the lives of its citizens.

It is important that the Human Rights Council continue its efforts to monitor the human rights situation in Eritrea and to identify ways to improve that situation.

We strongly urge the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with efforts to monitor and promote human rights in Eritrea, to engage fully with the international community and the UN, and to fulfill its human rights obligations and commitments.

Question:

Madame Special Rapporteur, given OHCHR’s visit to Eritrea last year, have you been able to work with OHCHR to gather additional information?