Hor­rific abuses ‘sys­tem­atic, wide­spread’ in Eritrea: UN

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Eritrea’s gov­ern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for sys­tem­atic and wide­spread hu­man rights abuses on an al­most un­prece­dented scale, driv­ing some 5,000 Eritre­ans to flee ev­ery month, a U.N. in­ves­ti­ga­tion said Mon­day.

Wrap­ping up a year-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion, a U.N. com­mis­sion of in­quiry on the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Eritrea de­scribed a night­mare-like so­ci­ety in the au­thor­i­tar­ian Horn of Africa state.

Its nearly 500-page re­port de­tails how the coun­try, un­der Isa­ias Afw­erki’s iron-fisted regime for the past 22 years, has cre­ated a re­pres­sive sys­tem in which peo­ple are rou­tinely ar­rested at whim, de­tained, tor­tured, killed or go miss­ing.

A sys­tem of in­def­i­nite con­scrip­tion of all Eritre­ans also forces many to toil in slave-like con­di­tions in the mil­i­tary and other state jobs, some­times for decades.

“The com­mis­sion finds that sys­tem­atic, wide­spread and gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions have been and are be­ing com­mit­ted in Eritrea un­der the author­ity of the gov­ern­ment,” the re­port said, adding that some of the abuses “may con­sti­tute crimes against hu­man­ity.”

The three- mem­ber com­mis- sion, which in­cludes the U.N.’s top ex­pert on the rights sit­u­a­tion in Eritrea Sheila Keetharuth, said in a state­ment the vi­o­la­tions in the coun­try were oc­cur­ring on a “scope and scale sel­dom wit­nessed else­where.”

The sit­u­a­tion has sparked a mas­sive ex­o­dus from Eritrea, which af­ter Syria is the sec­ond largest source of mi­grants risk­ing their lives to cross the Mediter­ranean to get to Europe.

“Faced with a seem­ingly hope­less sit­u­a­tion they feel pow­er­less to change, hun­dreds of thou­sands of Eritre­ans are flee­ing their coun­try,” the re­port said, adding that about 5,000 peo­ple were flood­ing out of the coun­try each month.

In mid-2014, the U.N. refugee agency counted nearly 360,000 refugees world­wide from Eritrea, which broke away from Ethiopia in 1991 af­ter a bru­tal 30-year in­de­pen­dence strug­gle.

“In des­per­a­tion, they re­sort to deadly es­cape routes through deserts and neigh­bor­ing war-torn coun­tries and across danger­ous seas in search of safety,” the re­port said, adding that flee­ing Eritre­ans “risk cap­ture, tor­ture and death at the hands of ruth­less hu­man traf­fick­ers.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors urged the in- ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to wel­come flee­ing Eritre­ans, of­fer them pro­tec­tion and make their migration routes safer and, above all, not send them “back to dan­ger.”

They de­scribed an Or­wellian mass-sur­veil­lance so­ci­ety, where neigh­bors and fam­ily mem­bers are drafted to in­form on each other, and where peo­ple can be held for years in hor­rific con­di­tions with­out ever know­ing what crime they com­mit­ted.

The probe was or­dered by the U.N. Hu­man Rights Coun­cil a year ago, and the in­ves­ti­ga­tors will present their find­ings to the body on June 23.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.