News Highlights: Amnesty: US should address human rights in Eritrea, Dublin Regulation challenged, Italian law to expel people from centres

In this week’s news highlights: A call to US Secretary of State to address human rights in Eritrea; UN condemns mass rapes in South Sudan; Proposals for Ethiopia’s new law on hate speech; US embassy reopens in Somalia; IFAD President urges to invest in the youth in Africa; Presidents of Egypt and Sudan to cooperate on security; Dead end in Libya leads refugees to Morocco; New Italian law expels migrants from reception centres; Tribunal ruling states that UK cannot send vulnerable migrants to Italy without assurance; Commissioner Avramopoulos suggests asylum procedure will voluntarily fall to EU Member States; and the need to put emphasis on agriculture in the Post-Cotonou agreement.

Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Amnesty International calls on US Secretary of State for African Affairs to address Eritrea’s human rights record
Following the case of Ciham Ali, an Eritrean citizen that has been held incommunicado since he was arrested in 2012 for trying to leave Eritrea, Amnesty International has called the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, to “demand the release of all prisoners arbitrarily detained solely for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and freedom of belief” when he visits Eritrea in the coming days. “Assistant Secretary Nagy has emphasized the urgent need to address Eritrea’s dire human rights record – he will have no better opportunity to do so than this visit,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

South Sudan: UN condemns the situation in Bentiu, South Sudan
In a Joint statement,  UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, UNICEF, and the United Nations Population Fund condemned the multiple attacks to and the rape of women in South Sudan.“The assailants have been described as armed men, many in uniform. We call on the relevant authorities to publicly denounce the attacks and ensure that those responsible for these crimes face justice. All parties to the conflict must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and cease attacks on civilians”, the statement reads.

Ethiopia: Ethiopia passes new law on hate speech: Human Rights Watch suggests comprehensive strategy
The Ethiopian government wants to pass a new law on hate speech to counter the phenomenon., however, as these laws are often and easily abused, Human Rights Watch has suggested that any such law must only target speech that is likely to incite imminent violence or discrimination.  They have suggested that Ethiopia should have a comprehensive strategy which “could include public education campaigns, programs to improve digital literacy, and efforts to encourage self-regulation within and between communities. The prime minister and other public figures could also speak out regularly and openly about the dangers of hate speech.”

Somalia: US reopens embassy in Somalia after 30 years
The US State Department established its first diplomatic presence in Mogadishu in Somalia after nearly 30 years, stating that this reflects the progress the African country has made. State department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement: “This historic event reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years and is another step forward in formalising US diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the Federal Government of Somalia in 2013”, the BBC has reported.

Urgent investment in jobs is needed in Africa, UN official says
Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said that unless urgent investment is made in job creation for young people in rural African areas, economic migration from Africa to Europe driven by poverty could double in the next decade. In an interview with the Guardian, he said: “If today Europe is struggling with economic migration [driven by poverty], can you imagine the extent of migration 10 years down the road with the African population set to double?”

North Africa

Egyptian and Sudan Presidents discuss regional security, keen on cooperation
On Tuesday 4 December, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi and Sudanese Defence Minister Awad Ibn Ouf discussed the current security challenges in the region. President al-Sisi showed the intent to cooperate with the Sudanese army in domains such as training, security, intelligence and military industry. “For his part, the Sudanese Defence Minister stressed his country’s keenness to promote joint cooperation with Egypt in all areas particularly military and security areas”, Sudan Tribune reports.

As EU blocks people in Libya, people find their way through Morocco
As the European Union is spending over a billion euros to stop people in North African countries like Libya or Egypt, many people fleeing African countries see Morocco as the only viable option left to reach the EU through Spain. “Managing… migratory flows is very much like squeezing a balloon. When one route closes, the flows increase on another […] The only solution to migration is to eliminate the root causes: wars and poverty”, said Izabella Cooper, spokeswoman for EU border agency Frontex.


Demonstration “Protection for Eritrean Refugees: no Money to Dictators”
Next week in Brussels next to the Brussels Schuman Roundabout, Eritrean and other human rights defenders will organize a demonstration for human rights, protection for refugees and against the EU’s migration funding of regimes accused of human rights abuses. The demonstration takes place during the European Council Summit of 13-14 December, which concerns the long term EU budget and, among other things, migration.

 The “Salvini decree” and its new rules on the Italian migrant reception centres
Migrants, trafficking victims and children in Italy are reported to being expelled from shelters under a new law created by the country’s government. Named after the interior minister, the “Salvini decree” does not give humanitarian protection status for asylum seekers and introduces new rules on who can stay in migrant reception centres. The government says that the law is not retroactive, however expulsions of people living in the local reception centres have been reported many times, the Independent reports.

Tribunal rules that vulnerable refugees and migrants cannot be sent to Italy without review
A Judgment considering the lawfulness of removing asylum seekers to Italy under the Dublin Regulation was handed down this week by the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) for judicial review. “The Applicants’ case was that they would face a real risk of being homeless and destitute in Italy, and that the physical and mental suffering they would endure as a result would give rise to inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights”, a statement by Wilsons reads. The judicial review applications of two of the three Applicants were allowed, as the Tribunal found that, in light of their vulnerabilities, their claims under Article 3 claims were arguable. The Tribunal found that the UK government would have to ensure adequate accommodation is in place before returning people to Italy under the Dublin Regulations.

Asylum Procedure will fall to Member States “on a voluntary basis”, Commissioner Avramopoulos suggests
As the Visegrad group (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia) has rejected the proposal of Commissioner Avramopoulos to reform the European Asylum system regarding mandatory relocation and resettlement, the latter has now called for the European Parliament to take a “pragmatic” approach, and to adopt five out of seven agreements on the EU asylum reform prior to the European elections, exempting the the Asylum Procedure Regulation and the Dublin Regulation,. For these, “Avramopoulos said member states would be expected to pledge support “on a voluntary basis”, EurActiv has reported.

Post-Cotonou Agreement should place agriculture at its heart, Director of CTA says
Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), has argued that the post-Cotonou agreement should putsustainable agriculture at its heart. “With nearly 10 billion people, we need 65 to 100% more food than we currently produce and because land – already in short supply – is limited, we know this food is mostly going to have to come from increased yields and sustainable intensification of agriculture”, Hailu said.