Eritrean Law Society (ELS) News ELS at the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva

ELS at the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva

Over the last five years, the month of June has been the most important month of the year for the on-going fight of ending impunity in Eritrea.

On 14 June 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea (Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth) conducted an Interactive Dialogue (ID) at the 35th Session of the HRC. This was essentially presentation of the Special Rapporteur’s latest report on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, followed by questions and comments from the HRC, including statements made by several Eritrean and non-Eritrean human rights defenders and civil society actors. All of them made calls on the HRC to adopt stringent measures that can help in ending the pervasive culture of impunity in Eritrea.

In the morning hours of 14 June 2017, there was a side event (panel discussion) organised by a broad-based coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs), including ELS. The side event focused on how to operationalize effective prosecutorial initiatives in various national jurisdictions based on the so-called “principle of universal jurisdiction.” This is by way of supplementing and promoting the core findings and recommendations made in various times by the UN commission of inquiry of human rights in Eritrea (COI) and the Special Rapporteur. The side event saw as speakers Suzgo Lungu from the South African Litigation Centre, Rita Mazzochi from the Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum and Adam Kunfu a family member of a victim of enforced disappearance. The panel discussion was moderated by the Executive Director of ELS, Dr. Daniel Mekonnen.

In the morning hours of 15 June 2017, the contents of a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Eritrea were debated by a number of representatives of the permanent diplomatic missions in Geneva. The main aim of the draft resolution is renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another year. This seems to be widely supported by all who were present at the discussion (informal consultation) and who shared opinions on how to improve the contents of the draft resolution. It is widely expected that the resolution calling for renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur will be adopted by consensus, without the need to go for voting, as has been the case with similar other resolutions on Eritrea since the appointment of the Special Rapporteur in 2012.