Statement by Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner, on the human rights situation in Eritrea

09.06.2016 - Press release

I was very concerned by the report published yesterday by the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, which notes that there has been no improvement in the situation. I call on the Eritrean Government to uphold its international human rights obligations and to address human rights violations.

The Eritrean Government’s willingness to grant some United Nations organisations and foreign journalists access is a first step in this direction.

The fact that particularly large numbers of people from Eritrea still want to leave their country for Europe reflects the desperation felt by many Eritreans. The most critical issues are indefinite national service and the human rights violations associated with it, the complete lack of rule‑of‑law structures and accusations of torture and rape.

In its report, the Commission of Inquiry writes that it has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea and calls for the situation to be referred to the International Criminal Court for consideration. I urge the Government in Eritrea to address this criticism in a constructive manner. This means working unreservedly with the United Nations and its bodies. The situation in Eritrea will be on the agenda of the negotiations at the Human Rights Council’s 32nd session.Only through dialogue and cooperation will Eritrea be able to continue focusing on the path it is taking towards opening the country.

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