Still Waiting for Sanctions on Eritrea for Human Rights Abuses
As we celebrate International Human Rights Day, we welcome the Security Council Sanctions on Eritrea as a means of bringing to light some of the human rights abuses being perpetrated every day on Eritreans in Eritrea and in some of the countries they flee to, but we would welcome a more human-rights based approach focussing on the internal terrorism inflicted on the Eritrean people.
The sanctions address the issue of Eritrea’s destabilizing effect on the Horn of Africa: it condemns, for example, the financing of terrorist organisations, such as Al-Shebab, by the Eritrean Government; it condemns the use of the Diaspora Tax to fund said destabilization, and effectively makes illegal any attempt to collect the tax; it also addresses the issue of the Eritrean Mining Sector operations, asking for transparency in its financial dealings. It does not, however, address the issue of how Eritrean workers, some of whom are conscripts on little or no wages, are exploited and abused at these mining sites.
This is the problem with the sanctions as they stand: they do not address the human rights issues directly. They seem to be more concerned with the political angle of Eritrea’s foreign policy.The average Eritrean will be more in the public eye, perhaps, where the international media is concerned, but no sanctions have been passed on the inhuman treatment of Eritreans by the Eritrean government.
All kinds of freedom – of press, worship, association, etc. – have been forcefully suspended. There are over three hundred prisons detaining dissenting voices, and torture -in the form of beatings, electric shocks, genital torture, rape and sex slavery- are common in those prisons.
There is nothing in the sanctions to stop this, or to limit it in any way.
Out of Eritrea’s population of about 4 million, 300,000 men and women are serving the never-ending military service imposed by the regime. Children as young as 15, have been rounded up from schools and streets for training in military camps. The conscripts are forced to work in government construction companies and mining projects for 16 hours per day and $10 per month. The indefinite nature of the horrors of military service best illustrates the human rights abuses in the nation.
This forced conscription and endless military service have caused a mass exodus of the youth from the nation. Parents of army deserters are punished if their children flee the country, even taken hostage – yet another cruel step that the regime has taken to stop the flow of conscripts and army personnel.
Female conscripts are sexually, emotionally and physically abused, and are made servants and sex-slaves of military commanders. The only university in the nation has been closed, and all other colleges are now military boot camps. Generally, the government has been conducting its domestic policy through nothing else but terror.
Owing to the severity of the situation and continued violations of fundamental human rights in Eritrea, there is an urgent need to address the situation at the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of the Eritrean people. It is to be hoped that by putting Eritrea more in the public eye, the Human Rights abuses that so badly need to be addressed will be the next logical focus.
A deadline of 120 days has been given to begin to implement some of the sanctions. When will there be a deadline to save the Eritreans who are suffering in the country’s prisons, and army barracks, or while attempting to escape to other countries, and even upon reaching some of those countries’ and again when attempting to live there?
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea
10 December 2011