Today members of the Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted [by consensus] a resolution on the human rights situation in Eritrea. Nigeria, Djibouti and Somalia led the drafting of the resolution, which calls for the creation of a Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. This independent human rights expert will focus urgent attention on one of the most dire human rights situations in the world.
The Eritrean government continues to commit widespread human rights abuses. Eritreans suffer arbitrary and indefinite detention; inhumane conditions of confinement; restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, and belief. The government of Eritrea forces men and women to participate in the national service program from which there is no clear criteria for demobilization. Severe violations of religious freedom continue, including torture, detention, and denial of the right to life, liberty, and security. Elections have not taken place since the country’s independence from Ethiopia in 1993. The constitution was unilaterally adopted in 1997, but has not been implemented.
The United States co-sponsored this important resolution along with a cross-regional group of supporters, including a strong African group, EU members, and other delegations. This is the first non-cooperative country mandate created by the Council by consensus. This speaks to both the increased credibility of the Council, and the international community’s concern over human rights violations in Eritrea. Since joining the Council two years ago, U.S. engagement has made the Human Rights Council (HRC) a more effective and credible multilateral forum for responding to the world’s most urgent human rights situations.