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Human Rights Council 32nd Session (13 June-1 July) Interactive Session with the Commission of Inquiry on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

21 June 2016

Ireland aligns itself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union and adds the following.

Mr President,

Ireland welcomes the second report of the Commission of Inquiry, and would like to thank the members of the Commission for their painstaking work, and commend the bravery of all those who provided testimony.

Ireland is deeply disturbed by the conclusions in the Commission’s report that citizens of Eritrea are subject to unacceptable violations of their human rights, including rape, murder, arbitrary detention, enslavement and persecution on religious or ethnic grounds.

Ireland is particularly concerned at the Commission’s finding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea. This confers an urgent responsibility on the Government of Eritrea to end these crimes immediately; and to work with the international community to bring those responsible to justice.

Many of the violations reported are linked to abuses within the national service programme. In many cases, national service does not appear to be related to the security of the country or indeed the civil service, but includes also forced cheap labour in a range of economic activities. Indeed, it would seem that the current structure of the national service is having an overall negative impact on the development of the country, as it prompts thousands of young able citizens to flee Eritrea.

The violations described in the report are compounded by the efforts to conceal them. Ireland deeply regrets that the Commission team was not permitted access to the country. We also regret attempts to undermine the credibility of the Commission and those who gave testimony. Rather than dismissing the content of the report, we would urge the Government of Eritrea to fully cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, lift restrictions on independent media, and grant access by independent monitors to its detention centres.

The people of Eritrea have a long and proud history, and deserve the opportunity to participate fully and freely in the development of their country. We urge the Government of Eritrea to consider carefully the Commission’s report, and to immediately put an end to the violations described therein.