The UN has accused the Eritrean government of committing crimes against humanity for 25 years — since its independence from Ethiopia.
For long the Eritrean government has been rumored to be the major cause for the exodus of Eritreans from their home. Report shows that 47,025 Eritreans applied for asylum in Europe in 2015.
“Crimes against humanity have been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in Eritrean detention facilities, military training camps and other locations across the country over the past 25 years”.
“Particular individuals, including officials at the highest levels of state, the ruling party – the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – and commanding officers bear responsibility for crimes against humanity,” the statement said.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights said President Isaias Afwerki who has ruled the country since its independence is guilty of enslavement, forcible army conscription among other abuses. The commission wants the perpetrators to face justice for their crimes.
“We probably think that there are up to 400 000 people who have been enslaved,” chief investigator Mike Smith told journalists in Geneva.
He also added that when Eritreans try to flee from their country they risk being forcibly conscripted to the army, from which they are hardly ever released.
“Very few Eritreans are ever released from their military service obligations,” he said.
Not only do these emigrants risk such abuses, they also risk their lives in the journey to find a safer haven. Reports have shown that majority of the migrants in boats journeying to Europe are Eritreans.
Yemane Gebreab the Eritrean presidential adviser dismissed the COI’s accusations as ‘ really laughable’.
“The COI’s case against Eritrea is legally indefensible,” he told reporters in Geneva.
The COI which has received reports from abused Eritreans however believes that Eritrea lacks the required judicial apparatus to try the perpetrators and it’s only right the trials be moved to the International Criminal Court.
Mike Smith said Eritrea’s lack of democratic institutions “has created a governance and rule of law vacuum, resulting in a climate of impunity for crimes against humanity,”
The Eritrean government which ranks lowest in the world for its lack of press freedom has barred reporters and UN investigators from entering its territory. This isolation of the Eastern African country has in part led to the aggravation of injustices and crimes against humanity.