Eritrea: United Nations expert says embracing human rights vital to shape successful future

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Sheila Keetharuth expressed concern that the human rights violations she identified in her first and subsequent reports, as well as in those of the Commission of Inquiry in Eritrea remained unchanged

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea expressed concern that patterns of violations identified over the past six years persist, namely arbitrary and incommunicado detention, indefinite military/national service amounting to forced labour and severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

In her fifth and final report to the Human Rights Council, Sheila Keetharuth expressed concern that the human rights violations she identified in her first and subsequent reports, as well as in those of the Commission of Inquiry in Eritrea remained unchanged.

“It is not acceptable that we are still seeing these types of human rights violations continue in Eritrea and that the Government has shown little willingness that it would tackle such abuses,” she said. “It is vital for the country’s future that these wrongs are put right. That means creating fundamental institutions based on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a democratically elected parliament and providing space for diverse political parties, an independent media and civil society organisations.”

She said it was deeply concerning that arrests and detention were used as a form of punishment for legitimate and peaceful exercise of fundamental rights. Keetharuth cited as an example the arrest and detention of the late Haji Musa Mohammed Nur, former director, and other committee members of the Al Dia School in the Akhria neighbourhood of Asmara. Haji Musa, aged 93, died in March 2018, after having been detained for four months, reportedly for refusing to apply a Government directive on banning Muslim students from wearing the veil or hijab, the discontinuation of religious teachings as well as the introduction of co-education.

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