Mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea extended through resolution in Human Rights Council

At the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council, a resolution on Eritrea has been adopted that extends the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Ms. Sheila Keetharuth, for another year. The resolution also expresses deep concern for the human rights situation in Eritrea, and urges the Eritrean government to implement the recommendations of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COIE).

The resolution that was adopted on 23 June 2017 is highly critical of the ongoing human rights abuses in the country. It also noted that the Eritrean government has continually refused to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and has denied her access to the country. The resolution also reiterates the support for the findings of the COIE, which published its last report in 2016, noting that the perpetrators of the alleged crimes against humanity must be held accountable.

The resolution also identifies these human rights abuses as the root cause of migration from Eritrea, noting that the Human Rights council is “[d]eeply concerned that the situation of human rights in Eritrea is a primary factor in the large number of Eritreans leaving their country, often facing risks of abduction, abhorrent physical and mental abuse and other ill-treatment on their migration path, including abuses by smugglers and human traffickers, while welcoming the participation of the Government of Eritrea in multilateral forums to discuss counter-trafficking efforts”.

In its resolution, the Human Rights Council calls on the government of Eritrea to, among other things, to end arbitrary detention, release those who have been detained, end the system of indefinite National Service, end the shoot-to-kill policy at its borders and implement the 1997 Constitution.

The resolution also noted the situation of Eritreans in the diaspora, calling upon the Eritrean government to stop demanding Eritreans to sign the so-called ‘regret form’ and to stop the collection of taxes outside of Eritrea by use of extortion, violence and other illegal means.

The resolution reiterated a strong encouragement to the African Union to investigate the human rights abuses in Eritrea, supported by the international community.

The mandate of Special Rapporteur Sheila Keetharuth has been extended for another year, which will be the last year for her as the mandate can be extended for a maximum of six years. She has been invited to hold an extended interactive dialogue at the Human Rights Council at its 37th session, and present her report at the 38th session. The Eritrean government has been called upon, once again, to cooperate with her mandate.