Statement in March 2017 at United Nations

On Monday 13 March 2017, the following statement was delivered by Veronica Almedom at the Human Rights Council on behalf of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Projects and on behalf of IFE (Information Forum for Eritrea).

Mr President, on behalf of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the Information Forum for Eritrea, I would like to thank the Special Rapporteur Mrs. Sheila Keetharuth for providing an update that reflects the reality in Eritrea today. The Eritrean regime is about to celebrate its 26 th year in power while the Eritrean population continues to live in fear. Since the end of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, we have yet to see improvements in the lives of everyday people. The terror and the abuse of power have weakened the Eritrean society at its core. According to Médecins sans frontiers, fleeing Eritreans sustain severe scars both physical and psychological.

Mr. President, in June last year Eritreans showed up en masse to demonstrate their support for the Commission of Inquiry in front of this very building. And they have not been heard. The international community has failed to act in accordance with the gravity of the Commission of Inquiry’s report. A Government has been accused of committing crimes against humanity, and it is the duty of this Council and its members to ensure that the individuals responsible are prosecuted.

Finally, I urge the Eritrean government to act responsibly during this migratory crisis and to substantially demonstrate political will to solve it, not by discretely introducing coercive measures within the country but by providing relief and dignity to each individual. Because today Mr. President, although they are well aware of the many dangers on the path to Europe and the tightening of European asylum policies, many young Eritreans still consider that their lives are safer on rafts in the Mediterranean or in freezing camps in Europe than in their home country.