Eritrean Law Society (ELS) News Statement Delivered at the 40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Statement Delivered at the 40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Statement Delivered at the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea (Ms. Daniela Kravetz) UN Human Rights Council 40th Session (Item 4) 25 February – 22 March 2019 Delivered by Dr. Daniel Mekonnen Mr. President, I make this statement on behalf of Europe External Programme with Africa and the Eritrean Law Society (ELS). We commend the relentless effort of this Council of the last seven years, and we wish the newly appointed Special Rapporteur the best of success in the fulfilment of her mandate. In July 2018, Eritrea resolved its long-standing political stalemate with Ethiopia, a situation persistently cited for many years by the Eritrean Government as an excuse to suppress fundamental rights and freedoms. The consequence of this has not only had an impact on the lives of people inside the country, but has driven many thousands into the hands of traffickers in their effort to escape. Now that the dispute with Ethiopia has been resolved, it is incumbent on the government to change course and immediately find a lasting solution to the country’s crisis of human rights. We would also like to express our concern that the election of Eritrea to this august body may be used as a shield to hide the problematic record of human rights violations in the country. This must not be allowed to happen. To the contrary, Eritrea’s election should be seized by this Council as an opportune moment to press harder for transparent accountability, in particular by calling for more stringent, time-bound and measureable steps to ending the pervasive culture of impunity in Eritrea. Without concrete accountability measures, Mr. President, tens of thousands of Eritreans, both inside and outside the country, will continue to live in fear for their lives, with little hope of a meaningful, secure future. We therefore urge the Council to do its level best to ensure accountability for gross human violations, which continue unabated. It is imperative for this Council to keep Eritrea under closer scrutiny until such time when there would be consistent and tangible progress towards ensuring clear adherence to human rights in the country. Thank you, Mr. President.