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Testimony at the UN

UN Watch Statement
ID with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea
29th Session, UNHRC

Delivered by Ms. Sayde-Hope Crystal

Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch commends the Special Rapporteur for her report and for her work on the Commission of Inquiry, which both detail how the Government of Eritrea has created and sustained a repressive system to deprive their citizens of fundamental freedoms.

The people of Eritrea require this Council’s immediate attention. The situation of human rights has deteriorated considerably since the last report of the Special Rapporteur in 2014. Faced with the realities of arbitrary detention, torture, indefinite military service, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and religion, 300,000 Eritreans—more than five percent of the population—have fled during the past decade.

UN Watch is concerned, as documented in the report by the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry, by the country’s indefinite policy of national service. Each year, thousands of Eritreans, including minors and clerics, are forcibly conscripted and subject to inhumane and slave-like conditions for unspecified periods, often lacking adequate food, water, hygienic facilities, and medical services. UN Watch agrees that unlimited national service in effect amounts to forced labor, and is alarmed by the prevalence of early child marriage and teenage pregnancies to avoid recruitment.

Mr. President, in Eritrea, thousands of ordinary citizens are arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated without due process. Detainees are held in brutal environments, confined in overcrowded underground cells, with little or no light, extreme weather conditions, and vermin. Beatings, torture and extrajudicial killings are widely perpetrated and committed with impunity.

UN Watch regrets that the most meaningful recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in her previous reports have not been implemented.

Madam Rapporteur, in light of the government’s non-cooperation, how could this Council ensure an effective follow up to your report, and that of the COI, in order to restore the rule of law in Eritrea, and end the Government’s abusive treatment of its own citizens?

Thank you, Mr. President.

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