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Eritrea holding top politicians and journalists arrested 15 years ago – UN worried

Eritrea holding top politicians and journalists arrested 15 years ago – UN worried

Eritrea

The United Nations (UN) says it is concerned about grave human rights violations going on in Eritrea where the government has arrested detained top politicians and journalists for 15 years without charge.

The UN’s special rapporteur on Eritrea’s human rights situation, Sheila B. Keetharuth, has called on the government to urgently provide information on all persons who were arrested in 2001. The UN also wants the detained persons to be unconditionally released and or charged to court immediately.

“The Eritrean Government has denied those arrested their fundamental right to liberty and security of the person, right not to be subjected to torture, right to a fair trial as well as right to freedom of expression and opinion,” Ms. Keetharuth said ahead of the 15th anniversary tomorrow.

Those arrested have been detained incommunicado and in solitary confinement. Even family members have never been allowed to have any contact whatsoever with them.

“Those arrested have been detained incommunicado and in solitary confinement. Even family members have never been allowed to have any contact whatsoever with them.”  

Fifteen years ago, the authorities arrested and detained a group of senior cabinet ministers, members of parliament and independent journalists without charge or trial. The Government has refused to share any information on their whereabouts and state of health.

“The 2001 clampdown set in motion a chain of egregious, widespread and systematic human rights violations that continues to this very day, including arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, denial of the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time,” the Special Rapporteur added.

Earlier this year, the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea concluded that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Eritrean officials have committed among others the crime of enforced disappearance, a crime against humanity.”

The Government of Eritrea has in the past defended their actions of 18 September 2001 stating that they were in response to national security threats posed by the prominent politicians and independent journalists – a situation that has negatively impacted press freedom.

However, the rights expert stressed that “invoking national security as the main reason to violate basic fundamental human rights of Eritreans cannot be perpetual.”

Eritrea is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since 2002, to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights since 1999 and to the Convention against Torture since 2014.