NEW YORK, 27 February 2021 – Human Rights Watch has called on the African Union (AU) to deny support to Eritrea’s bid to run for re-election on the UN Human Rights Council.
African countries should “stop allowing Eritrea to whitewash its own record of abuse,” the New York-based rights group wrote, adding:
“And this should start with the African Union refusing to back Eritrea’s reelection bid”.
The appeal accuses Asmara of refusing to “constructively engage with much of the UN rights system, including with successive special rapporteurs whose access requests have been repeatedly ignored – another violation of standards for membership of the UN rights body”.
The appeal from HRW follows Eritrea’s announcement this week that it is running for reelection.
The rights group says Eritrea’s dismal rights record disqualifies the Horn of Africa country as a credible candidate for the Human Rights Council whose members should meet “the highest standards of human rights”.
During a briefing to the Council on Wednesday, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea highlighted the lack of tangible improvements in human rights in Eritrea.
The government of Eritrea has been accused of notably maintaining a uniquely abusive indefinite national service system which begins with young secondary school students completing their schooling while undergoing military training at the infamous Sawa military camp.
Eritrean journalists have been jailed for decades, the statement lamented.
Besides the dire rights situation inside Eritrea, said HRW, there is mounting evidence of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Eritrean armed forces since they joined the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
Human Rights Watch also called attention to absuses carried out by Eritrean forces in Tigray, including their role in a massacre, indiscriminate and extrajducial killings, and the widespread pillaging of civilian property and burning and looting of crops.
The absuses included the arrest and “disappearance” of Eritrean refugees in Tigray and in camps in neighboring Sudan.