On 6 July 2017, the European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution whose terms have never been so strong and direct. The first point of the resolution „condemns in the strongest possible terms the systematic, widespread and flagrant violations of human rights in Eritrea.„. The beginning of this document sets the tone for the rest of the resolution. It also reveals a certain frustration of the EP that sees no improvement in the country since the beginning of discussions with Eritrea in 2016.
Financial aid to Eritrea
Also, point 11 of the resolution „denounces the resumption of significant EU aid to Eritrea, including the adoption of the national indicative program for Eritrea amounting to € 200 million; Calls on the Commission to review its monitoring arrangements with the European Parliament, to take account of the concerns and suggestions expressed by Parliament and to ensure that these are communicated to the European Development Fund (EDF) Committee; Considers that the EDF Committee should have taken into consideration the previous recommendations of Parliament not to adopt the national indicative program and to prolong the discussions;„. Before the payment of the sums in question, the EP had rightly insisted that the Eritrean State provide the European Commission with solid guarantees for democratic reforms and human rights reforms which it intended to implement artwork. The EP reiterated this request by requiring the Commission to obtain these guarantees.
Point 12 of the resolution raises the question of the transparency of the funds allocated. The EP calls for these funds not to go to the Eritrean government, „but that they be used solely and transparently to cover the needs of the Eritrean population in terms of development, democracy, human rights , Governance and security, as well as freedom of expression, pressure and assembly … „. Many human rights defenders, some of whom were former officials of the Eritrean state, had repeatedly warned the European Commission of the opaque financial management of the Eritrean authorities.
Paragraph 19 of the resolution „(…) urges member states not to return Eritreans seeking asylum to Europe, in accordance with the Geneva Convention; Calls on the EU Member States to adhere to the concept of non-refoulement and recalls that asylum-seekers returning to their country are likely to be arbitrarily detained and tortured for attempting to flee; „.
To date, no referrals have been made by asylum seekers to Eritrea. Nevertheless, a change in asylum policy towards Eritreans has been observed since the decision of the Federal Administrative Court indicating that persons who are illegally leaving the country are no longer threatened in the event of their return. This decision is inconsistent with the rest of the TAF ruling, which points out deficits in terms of justice, governance and respect for the rule of law. The judgment also mentions continuing arbitrary arrests and other gross violations of human rights.
IFE stresses that asylum policy must not only comply with international law, but must also be faithful to the humanitarian tradition of Switzerland and make the protection of people a priority.
The priorities of the European Parliament
Finally, the 22nd and penultimate paragraph of the resolution stresses the priorities of the EP, namely:
– „the fight against the deficit of justice;
– democratic governance; and
– restoration of the rule of law in Eritrea by ending an authoritarian regime based on the fear of arbitrary and secret detentions, torture and other human rights violations, some of which may constitute crimes against humanity. “
* * *
IFE shares this order of priorities which addresses in a realistic and direct way the heart of the challenges to be met in Eritrea. It is necessary to address them with the utmost insistence if a positive change in the country is to be observed. In the meantime, and as long as the rights to liberty and security are threatened in the country, asylum requests must be granted to Eritreans accordingly.