MoFA- The Chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, Mike Smith, told the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly Thursday last week (October 29) that “a very significant number” of Eritreans were fleeing a country “that is not in a situation of conflict or unrest” to seek a life free from fear.
Mr. Smith said that the fact that “so many people feel the need to flee their birth place in order to live a decent life free from fear is an extraordinary indictment of the government that has controlled Eritrea since independence more than 20 years ago.” He listed the factors that forced such an “alarming exodus.” These included: “No elections since 1993. No independent press since 2001. Ongoing restrictions of all freedoms: movement, expression, religion, association.
Arbitrary arrests with no fair trials or no trials at all. Forced labor; torture.” He said the Report of his Commission of Inquiry, presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June of this year, went “a long way to explaining why the number of Eritreans fleeing the country towards Europe has grown steadily since 2001 and has accelerated with a growth of more than 150 per cent between 2013 and 2014.” He said that the international community, in the form of the Human Rights Council, had responded to these dramatic findings by reiterating its deep concern at the ongoing reports of grave violations of human rights.
The Human Rights Council had decided to extend the mandate of the commission for another year to investigate “systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in Eritrea with a view ensuring full accountability including where these violations may amount to crimes against humanity.” Mr. Smith said this was “an unprecedented move” for a county not at war.
The Third Committee of the General Assembly covers agenda items relating to social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues, and an important part of its work focuses on examination of human rights questions, including reports of the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. The UN Security Council ten days also extended the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group for another year, calling on the Government of Eritrea to facilitate the Monitoring Group’s access into Eritrea and to provide information on various issues, including Djiboutian prisoners missing in action since clashes between Eritrea and Djibouti in June 2008