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Eritrea has called on UN Human  Rights  Council  (HRC) to stop the “Commission   of Inquiry” (COI)  from preventing  a fair hearing  on the human rights  situation  in Eritrea  by preemptively releasing  its report to the public.

In a letter it sent to the President  and members  of the HRC on May 30,  Eritrea  has asked the Council  to” recognize  and respect  Eritrea’s  right to properly  defend  itself.”  It thus urged the Council  to “suspend  deliberations  on the report until Eritrea has been provided  with a meaningful opportunity  to study and respond  to the allegations.”

Eritrea has further urged the Council  to “prevent  the setting of a dangerous  precedent  that allows for the flagrant  violation  of the HRC’s  own “Commission  oflnquiry  Manual”,  the total disregard for the basic principles  of fundamental  rules of procedure  and established  norms  of fair play, makes a mockery  of human  rights and undermines  the credibility  of the HRC.”

The COI has announced  that it will release  its “findings”  to the media  on June 8, before submitting  its report to the HRC and while Eritrea is on the dark on the contents  of the report.

Following  on last year’s  pattern,  the COI is then expected  to launch a sensational  media blitz asserting  that Eritrea  had already  been found guilty of the accusations,  arrogating  to itself the roles of investigator,  prosecutor  and judge.  In this orchestrated  campaign,  the COI will be joined by “human  rights organizations”   and assorted  “experts”  and “victims”  that will seek to lend it credence  and corroborate  Eritrea’s   guilt.

Eritrea’s  letter to the HRC stresses  that “in effect this is trial by media  and is intended  to preempt and prevent  serious  scrutiny  and sober discussion  of the “report.”   It is intended  to create a charged  and biased  atmosphere  that will render  a fair hearing  virtually  impossible.”

Eritrea  and a number  of member  states and organizations  have repeatedly  shown  that the COI lacks the rudiments  of fairness,  impartiality,  professionalism   and integrity.  Its methodology  has been flawed,  its sources  suspect  and one-sided,  its “evidence”  flimsy.  It has abused and overstepped its mandate.  It has become an activist going to the extent of lobbying governments not to engage with Eritrea, including on matters that advance human rights like education.

The COI willfully decided to base its accusations solely on “testimonies and accounts from Eritrean refugees, asylum-seekers, migrants and other members of the Diaspora.” These selected informants remain nameless and faceless as the COI has not revealed their identity. A substantial number of them were chosen by Ethiopian security officers and interviewed in camps in Ethiopia, a country currently in conflict with Eritrea. There is iron-clad evidence that many are in fact Ethiopians.

Conversely, the COI has studiously refused to listen to the “testimonies and accounts” of the overwhelming majority of Eritreans in the Diaspora. Last year, it simply said it “had no time to meet them.”  This year it completely ignored the request by hundreds of Eritreans who wanted to appear in person in Geneva to present their testimonies after promising that it would give them a hearing in April.

The COI completely ignores any assessment of the status of social, economic, cultural rights in Eritrea. This is in contravention of the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights, which accords equal importance to all rights. It also makes the COI report one-sided, biased and incomplete. It is not difficult to gather that the COI decided to ignore a whole category of human rights precisely because Eritrea’s record is impressive and reporting them would not tally with the picture the COI wants to paint.

The COI has likewise ignored Eritrea’s significant achievements in political and civic rights as well as the peace, stability and harmony that the country enjoys in a region that is rife with extremism, terrorism and violence.  It has refused to acknowledge Eritrea’s serious engagement with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process at the HRC and its acceptance of 92 recommendations, which  it is already implementing.

The COI dismisses offhand all positive changes taking place in Eritrea domestically as well as in its regional and international engagement.

The COI also deliberately ignores fundamental realities which have a profound bearing on the state of the country, including the illegal occupation of Eritrean territory which constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights, repeated armed aggression, sanctions and mistaken policies that consider almost all Eritreans asylum-seekers.

This unfair, unjustified and illegal treatment of Eritrea is only a continuation of the double-standards that developing nations and those who wish to chart an independent path have been subjected to. This  recurring recourse to politically-motivated, selective and country-specific measures and pressures needs to come to an end.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs


02 June 2016   

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