News Highlights: IS Attacks Libya, UN and NGOs report on Eritrea, EU’s new budget could strengthen rule of law

In this week’s news highlights: Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Concern Eritrea report on Eritrea; US Congressman calls for cooperation with Eritrea; UN calls on Eritrea to respect media freedom; South Sudan continues to be supported by Egypt, el-Sisi assures; Humanitarian staff in Somalia dead and injured; Ethiopian and Eritrean ex-officials debate blame for border issues; Deaths and injuries after IS attack in Libya; Mogherini reassures EU’s willingness to support Somalia; EU’s  new budget to strengthen rule of law.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Human Rights Concern Eritrea report on Eritrea
In March 2017, the Eritrean government published an ‘Initial National Report’ for 1999-2016 to the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) describing improvements on governance, civil and political rights. As a response, several organizations, including Human Rights Concern Eritrea, submitted their report on Eritrea’s situation to the ACHPR. They write that “we will demonstrate that Eritrea is not on track or doing well in the areas of rule of law, effective accountable institutions for all, independence of the Judiciary, human rights, as well a building economic foundation.”

Eritrea: HRW makes submission to Commissioner King
In a submission that Human Rights Watch made to Commissioner King, Eritrea Country Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), they described their findings about the country’s situation and the constant violations of human rights. They state that the ‘Initial National Report’ (1999-2016) submitted by Eritrea to the ACHPR distorts key issues. Examples that that HRW brought are the nonexistent press freedom, the closure of human rights organizations, the interference with religion and the absence of rule of law in general.

Eritrea: US Congressman urges for cooperation with Eritrea
In a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has asked for improvement of relations and cooperation with Eritrea as, he states, they have been impeded because of the Obama sanctions. “Cooperation with Eritrea to address the growing Chinese influence in the region, including their new military base in Djibouti and the ongoing fight against radical Islam makes sense”, the letter reads.

Eritrea: UN urges Eritrea to end media restrictions
On the occasion of the World Press Freedom (May 3), UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea has called the government to end its restrictions on press freedom. “The restrictions imposed on a free press by the Government of Eritrea are not proportional, not necessary for the interests of national security, public order or even national unity and constitute a violation of the right to seek, receive and impart information,” the Special Rapporteur emphasized.

South Sudan: Egypt reaffirms alliance with South Sudan
The Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi recently reassured his South Sudanese counterpart of Egypt’s support in the latter’s efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region.  Pointing to the strong relations of Cairo with Juba, President el-Sisi also said, according to the Sudan Tribune, that Egypt will continue to assist South Sudan in its development efforts.

Somalia: Killings and abductions of humanitarian staff in Somalia
A German nurse of the International Committee of  the Red Cross (ICRC) was kidnapped in the Somali capital Mogadishu today, May 3, while yesterday, in the same city, gunmen shot dead a Somali woman working for the World Health Organization. “We are deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague”, said Daniel O’Malley, the ICRC’s deputy head of delegation for Somalia, in a statement.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian Ex-Prime Minister talks about relations with Eritrea
During a Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend held in Rwanda, Ethiopian Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn talked about the Eritrean governance’s “stubborn character”, Ethiopia’s “unconditional acceptance of the boundary decision”as well as the latter’s openness for dialogue. A former Eritrean official then said that Eritrea is open but it is Ethiopia that obstructs the possibilities for dialogue, with Desalegn answering that they have tried to talk in every way possible,but their efforts “have fallen into a deaf ear”.


IS deadly attack in Tripoli, 12 killed and several injured
At least 12 people have been killed, according to BBC, and many injured after the attack of the Islamic State (IS) to the Libyan electoral commission headquarters. At least one suicide bomber blew himself up while the others setthe building on fire. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya said on Twitter that “such cowardly attack on this democratic edifice is a direct aggression against the Libyan people and their will to build just and civil state.”


EU: Mogherini talks with Somali Prime Minister
On Wednesday 2 May, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini met with Hassan Ali Khaire, Prime Minister of Somalia to discuss about the current political, economic and security reforms the Somali government is undertaking. Mogherini confirmed that the EU will continue supporting the country using all policies, instruments and development cooperation funds and she said she is looking forward to the upcoming Somalia partnership platform.

EU: New EU Budget to improve health of judiciary
The EU, announcing its new budget, said one of them will have to do with connecting EU funds for Member States to the health of their judiciary. “The new proposed tools would allow the Union to suspend, reduce or restrict access to EU funding in a manner proportionate to the nature, gravity and scope of the rule of law deficiencies” announced the EC in a press release. Even though it is not easy to get an agreement on that, “it could be a game-changer for defending rule of law and human rights in the EU”, Human Rights Watch said.