Elsa Chyrum, director of Human Rights Concern, Ertrea, delivered a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council, 28th Session, on 16th March 2015 on Agenda Item 4, Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea. Here is the full content of the speech:
Thank you Mr President,
The International Fellowship of Reconciliation, together with Human Rights Concern – Eritrea, thanks the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for its update and for its commitment to bring the human rights tragedy in Eritrea to the Council’s attention .
We strongly supported the creation of the COI having reached the sad conclusion that the Eritrean government showed no interest in combatting the gross and systematic human rights violations perpetrated within its borders.
We reluctantly argued that sustained international exposure through a COI mechanism was the only means of calling those responsible to account for their abuses, and giving a voice to those suffering, largely in silence.
It is noteworthy that the establishment of the COI was a consensus decision of this Council, appropriately reflecting the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for action.
Since the creation of the mandate last year we have seen no improvement on the ground. Stories of widespread human rights violations continue to emerge. Of particular concern is the forced military training in harsh environments of senior citizens up to the age of 84, including the disabled, that has resulted in the deaths of at least six people, and the demolition of hundreds of homes in several localities that have left families without shelter. In addition up to 7000 people are fleeing the country on a monthly basis.
We therefore urge the Council, together with the Office of the High Commissioner, to ensure the Commission continues to receive the support and access it needs to complete its work.
We reiterate our call to Member States, particularly those in the region, to do all that they can to assist the Commission in conducting its work, including providing access to Eritrean diaspora communities. We also call in advance on the Council to do all it can to honour and implement the recommendations the COI will make when it delivers its final report in June.
In this way we may finally provide some justice to the Eritreans we are all mandated to speak up for and protect.