Christian group urges action on human rights abuses in Eritrea

Christian Solidarity Worldwide picket against human rights abuses in Eritrea.

Originally published in Premier

A Christian freedom group has written to members of the Human Rights Council urging them to support a resolution to seek peace in Eritrea.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Human Rights Concern Eritrea have written to the member states of the Human Rights Council (HRC) calling on them to support a mandate by Daniela Kravetz, the Special Rapporteur (an independent expert assigned to report back on a country’s human rights record) for Eritrea.

In June, the Eritrean Special Rapporteur expressed serious concern over the curtailment of Catholic Church activities in the country and the arbitrary arrest and detention of members of Orthodox and Christian congregations.

In 2016, the United Nations found “reasonable grounds to believe” that crimes against humanity have been committed by state officials in a “widespread and systematic manner” since 1991.

The campaign groups say these violations continue to occur and in a letter to member states of the HRC they state: “Most recently, in May and June 2019 and in actions that also targeted religious groups ostensibly permitted to operate in Eritrea, a 32-year-old Muslim man died after severe torture while in detention and delayed medical assistance; five Orthodox monks and at least 171 Evangelical Christians were arrested, and 21 Catholic health centres located in remote areas of the country were closed, depriving the most vulnerable of access to affordable healthcare.

“Last Monday, photographs emerged of priests and nuns being evicted from the centres where they had both lived and worked, while property was loaded on to lorries and driven to an unknown location. Credible reports indicate that during the seizures, in-patients were forcibly discharged and, in some cases, even removed from oxygen, and that following the forced closures, a woman died following pregnancy complications.”

They point out that Eritrea has been given a seat on the Human Rights Council and that there have been no signs of improvement since.

Dr Khataza Gondwe from Christain Solidarity Worldwide said: “Recent developments in Eritrea illustrate the need for continued monitoring of the human rights situation.

“The same government which a council-mandated special mechanism deemed responsible for crimes against humanity is still committing violations today, and there is a clear need for accountability and justice. It is imperative that the Human Rights Council renews the Special Rapporteur’s mandate this week. A failure to do so out of political expediency would damage the reputation of the world’s premier human rights body irreparably.”

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