Human Rights Mandate in Eritrea: Sudan votes against extension

After the Special Rapporteur reviewed his report before the UN, 21 countries voted on Monday in favor of extending his human rights mandate in Eritrea for a new year, 13 countries abstained, while Khartoum joined 11 other countries that voted against the extension.


AlTaghyeer: Amal Mohammed al-Hassan

Dawit Isaak, Eritrean journalist, has been imprisoned in the Eritrean regime’s secret prisons since 2001 without trial, with information about his health or his life still unavailable after nearly two decades.

Dawit is one of the ten freelance journalists who were arrested along with 11 former members of the government known as the (G-15) by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki without trial.

Human rights organizations are still calling on the Eritrean government to disclose the whereabouts of these prisoners, in addition to the many individuals currently imprisoned by the regime, according to Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Mohamed Abdel Salam.

Term Extension

Sudan’s vote has raised wide questions in social media, with activists and a number of interested people describing its position as contradictory in regards to the Sudanese transitional government’s desire to head in the direction of supporting of human rights principles, freedom of belief, and freedom of opinion.

Khartoum has ratified a number of international conventions that enhance the human rights conditions of its citizens, and has repealed a number of freedom-restricting laws (such as the Public Order Law).

The decision to vote against extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights for another year is a bizarre one, coming at a time when the report described the human rights situation in the Eritrea is “a source of grave concern.”

In addition, Eritrea prevented the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Mohamed Abdel Salam, from entering its territory, or responding to his report submitted to it, which he described within the report as a lack of governmental cooperation to develop the human rights situation.

In addition to arbitrary detention and indefinite military service, the report spoke of allegations of grave human rights violations committed by Eritrean forces in the Ethiopian Tigray region.

Abdel Salam expressed his concern that the Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region would be subjected to violations, assassinations, physical violence, and possibly being forced to return to their country, noting that currently, their assessed numbers exceed 90,000 refugees.

Khartoum’s Refusal

Meanwhile, a diplomatic source confirmed to AlTaghyeer that the Sudanese diplomats’ recommendation was in favor of voting in favor an extended mandate, but that the final vote came out against it.

Expectations indicate that the vote against the decision represents a patterned African position, aligned with Afwerki after all African countries had voted against the extension.

It is worth noting that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea has been extended annually since 2012.

The Sudanese jurist, Mohamed Abdel Salam, is the third rapporteur after having been chosen by the United Nations for the post last year.

Eritrea – independent since 1993 – is considered one of the worst countries in terms of human rights.

The country has no elections, the establishment of parties is not allowed, the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, the party took over the management of the war until Eritrea was able to gain its independence, is the only party in the country.

Isaias Afwerki has ruled the country with an iron fist since independence and no elections have been held so far. There is no parliament, no unions, nor any modern state institutions.

It is considered one of the countries with the worst freedom of press records, due to the government’s policies that restrict the press greatly.

Eritrea has been occupying the last rank in the Reporters Without Borders classification for a number of years.

In 2000, Afwerki expelled international organizations due to the conflict with then arch-nemesis, the neighboring Ethiopia, but the two sides were able to reconcile their differences and sign a peace agreement in July 2018.

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