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Creeping paranoia in Djiboutian diplomatic circles

%PM, %21 %597 %2018 %15:%Jul Written by

Postby Waachis » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:45 pm

Creeping paranoia in Djiboutian diplomatic circles
Image result for Mahmoud Ali YoussoufIn a missive addressed to his ambassadors which The Indian Ocean Newsletter has obtained a copy of, the Djiboutian foreign minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf has expressed himself in very undiplomatic terms, reflecting the anxiety of the Djiboutian authorities in the face of the current rapprochement between Addis Ababa and Asmara. The minister is of the view that the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali is guilty of 'reckless haste' and is using his country's status as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to secure the lifting of sanctions on Eritrea, without giving due thought to the negative impact this may have on Djibouti...
After this diatribe against the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the policies of the Ethiopian prime minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf goes on to express his concern at 'the interference and meddling of the United Arab Emirates in this reconfiguring of alliances in the sub-region'. He describes this Gulf state as 'the armed wing and bankroller of the strategy of the new US administration' and claims that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MbZ), has pledged 'billions of dollars in deposits and investments' in exchange for Ethiopia extending the hand of friendship to Asmara.
He then seizes the opportunity to criticise the Frud arme, 'hosted and supported by Eritrea', a country which will soon be seeing Ethiopian businesses setting up shop and operating out of the port of Assab rather than the port of Djibouti. He therefore recommends 'a clear and unambiguous statement to Ethiopia of our position and our displeasure'.
The end of this memo reads almost like a threat to Ethiopia, 'this country [which] has not yet left its turbulent times behind' and where 'the risk of implosion is not to be underestimated [...] given[the forthcoming] operations to harness the oil and gas resources of the Ogaden'.

The Global Slavery Index 2018

%AM, %20 %227 %2018 %06:%Jul Written by

from Walk Free Foundation

Published on 19 Jul 2018 —

Executive Summary

Depriving someone of their freedom is a terrible violation. Modern slavery is a destructive, personal crime and an abuse of human rights. It is a widespread and profitable criminal industry but despite this it is largely invisible, in part because it disproportionately affects the most marginalised. This is why measuring this problem is so crucial in exposing and ultimately resolving it. The information contained within the Global Slavery Index is critical in these efforts.

The 2018 Global Slavery Index measures the extent of modern slavery country by country, and the steps governments are taking to respond to this issue to objectively measure progress toward ending modern slavery. The Index draws together findings from across estimates of prevalence, measurement of vulnerability, and assessment of government responses, alongside an analysis of trade flows and data on specific products. When considered as a set, the data provide a complex and insightful picture of the ways modern slavery is impacting countries around the world. This enables us to refine our thinking on how to better respond to modern slavery, and also how to predict and prevent modern slavery in future.

As reported in the recent Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, published by the International Labour Organization and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery in 2016. In other words, on any given day in 2016, there were more than 40 million people – about 70 percent of whom are women and girls – who were being forced to work against their will under threat or who were living in a forced marriage. In the past five years, 89 million people experienced some form of modern slavery for periods of time ranging from a few days to the whole five years. These estimates are conservative, given the gaps in existing data in key regions such as the Arab States and also exclusions of critical forms of modern slavery such as recruitment of children by armed groups and organ trafficking due to lack of data. From this starting point, the 2018 Global Slavery Index uses predictive modelling, based on data from nationally representative surveys and the Walk Free Foundation Vulnerability Model, to estimate the prevalence of modern slavery country by country.

The contributing factors

Findings from the 2018 Global Slavery Index highlight the connection between modern slavery and two major external drivers - highly repressive regimes, in which populations are put to work to prop up the government, and conflict situations which result in the breakdown of rule of law, social structures, and existing systems of protection.

The country with the highest estimated prevalence is North Korea. In North Korea, one in 10 people are in modern slavery with the clear majority forced to work by the state. As a UN Commission of Inquiry has observed, violations of human rights in North Korea are not mere excesses of the state, they are an essential component of the political system. This is reflected in the research on North Korea undertaken through interviews with defectors for this Global Slavery Index. North Korea is followed closely by Eritrea, a repressive regime that abuses its conscription system to hold its citizens in forced labour for decades. These countries have some of the weakest responses to modern slavery and the highest risk.

The 10 countries with highest prevalence of modern slavery globally, along with North Korea and Eritrea, are Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Iran. Most of these countries are marked by conflict, with breakdowns in rule of law, displacement and a lack of physical security (Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Pakistan). Three of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence stand out as having state-imposed forced labour (North Korea, Eritrea and Burundi). Indeed, North Korea, Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Iran are the subject of various UN Security Council resolutions reflecting the severity and extremity of the situations there.

A global issue

One of the most important findings of the 2018 Global Slavery Index is that the prevalence of modern slavery in high-GDP countries is higher than previously understood, underscoring the responsibilities of these countries. Through collaboration, the number of data sources which inform the Index has increased. This has allowed the Index to more consistently measure prevalence in countries where exploitation has taken place. More surveys in sending countries has resulted in more data about receiving countries, most of which are highly developed.
Following these changes, an interesting pattern emerges: the prevalence estimates for the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and several other European nations are higher than previously understood. Given these are also the countries taking the most action to respond to modern slavery, this does not mean these initiatives are in vain. It does, however, underscore that even in countries with seemingly strong laws and systems, there are critical gaps in protections for groups such as irregular migrants, the homeless, workers in the shadow or gig economy, and certain minorities. These gaps, which are being actively exploited by criminals, need urgent attention from governments.

The realities of global trade and commerce make it inevitable the products and proceeds of modern slavery will cross borders. Accordingly, for the first time we examine the issue of modern slavery not only from the perspective of where the crime is perpetrated but also where the products of the crime are sold and consumed, with a specific focus on the G20 countries. The resulting analysis presents a stark contrast of risk and responsibility, with G20 countries importing risk on a scale not matched by their responses.

Citizens of most G20 countries enjoy relatively low levels of vulnerability to the crime of modern slavery within their borders, and many aspects of their governments’ responses to it are comparatively strong. Nonetheless, businesses and governments in G20 countries are importing products that are at risk of modern slavery on a significant scale. Looking only at the “top five” at-risk products in each country identified by our analysis, G20 countries are collectively importing US$354 billion worth of at-risk products annually.

Of greatest concern is the continuing trade in coal from North Korea, alongside other products that are subject to UN Security Council sanctions. However, most of the at-risk products examined for this report are not subject to existing sanctions. Rather, information about risk of modern slavery can be found in research and media reports, and occasionally court cases. G20 countries are only just beginning to respond to this risk, through a growing focus on modern slavery in the supply chains of business and government, but existing efforts are not nearly enough. The Government Response Index reveals that more than half of the G20 countries are yet to formally enact laws, policies or practices aimed at stopping business and government sourcing goods and services produced by forced labour (Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Turkey). The exceptions are China, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, UK, and the United States, each of which has begun to take some steps in this regard. Australia has announced it will introduce supply chain transparency laws in the second half of 2018.

Government responses

While much more needs to be done to prevent and respond to modern slavery, the Government Response Index suggests that national legal, policy, and programmatic responses to modern slavery are improving, with an upward trend overall in ratings for government responses. Globally, governments are taking more action to strengthen legislation and establish coordination and accountability mechanisms. Protection measures are being strengthened, with improvements in access to justice for adults and children in some countries. Nonetheless, in every country, there are enormous gaps between the estimated size of modern slavery and the small number of victims that are identified. This suggests efforts that exist on paper are not being implemented effectively. Furthermore, in many countries, critical gaps in services remain, with 50 percent of countries excluding either migrants, men, or children from accessing services. Not only are certain groups of victims not being identified, even when they are detected they are not able to access support and other services.

Moreover, high-GDP countries such as Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait, Brunei and Hong Kong are doing very little to respond despite their wealth and resources, while low-GDP countries such as Georgia, Moldova, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Mozambique are responding strongly.

Government engagement with business on modern slavery has increased dramatically since the 2016 Global Slavery Index. In 2018, 36 countries are taking steps to address forced labour in business or public supply chains, compared to only four countries in 2016. However, these steps are often to establish the bare minimum of reporting requirements; individual governments can do much more than they are doing to proactively engage with business to prevent forced labour in supply chains and in public procurement.

Progress, but challenges remain

The 2018 edition of the Global Slavery Index introduces new ways to look at an existing problem, drawing on a growing data set and increasingly sophisticated analysis. This deepens our understanding of the different contexts where modern slavery is likely to flourish and helps us predict the next flashpoint. For example, it is clear that if the international community does nothing to address the enormous risks resulting from the mass displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people to temporary camps in Bangladesh, this will be the next population of deeply exploited and abused people – further compounding and reinforcing what is already a deeply entrenched conflict. It is equally clear that businesses and governments continuing to trade with highly repressive regimes such as North Korea and Eritrea are contributing to the maintenance of forced labour.

The research also highlights the responsibilities held by both low-GDP and high-GDP countries. All governments have committed to work together to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 on eradicating modern slavery. In this regard, high-GDP countries cannot simply rely on doing more of the same – there is an urgent need to prioritise prevention, through a focus on discrimination and safe migration. Equally, high-GDP countries have an obligation to take serious and urgent steps to address the risks they are importing. They owe this obligation both to consumers in their own countries and to victims along the supply chain, where products are being harvested, packed and shipped.

This edition of the Global Slavery Index introduces important improvements to the ways prevalence of modern slavery is measured. Building on the collaborative work undertaken with the ILO and IOM on the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, the Global Slavery Index results reflect changes to scope, methodology, and expanded data sources. The estimates are presented as a stock (or point in time) calculation rather than a flow (total over a period of time), include state imposed forced labour, and better estimates of sexual exploitation, and children in modern slavery. Further, we were able to count exploitation where it occurred more consistently due to a considerably larger number of national surveys.

As a result of these advancements, the national prevalence estimates are not comparable with previous editions of the Global Slavery Index. Nonetheless, the strengthened methodology reflects stronger data, increased levels of data, and more systematic coverage of different forms of modern slavery. As such, while comparability from previous years is lost, the changes are justified by the need to continually improve our knowledge base.


1. Governments and businesses prioritise human rights in decision making when engaging with repressive regimes.
Deliver on financial and trade restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council, such as those in place against North Korea.
Conduct due diligence and transparency of business operations, to ensure that any trade, business or investment is not contributing to or benefiting from modern slavery (or other human rights abuses).
Establish active efforts to drive positive social change through economic and business relationships

2. Governments proactively anticipate and respond to modern slavery in conflict situations.
Create protective systems to identify and assist victims, and at-risk populations both during conflict and in postconflict settings (including in neighbouring countries).
Collect and preserve evidence to ensure perpetrators can be punished.
Prioritise international cooperation to investigate and prosecute perpetrators

3. Governments improve modern slavery responses at home.
Improve prevention, including through prioritising safe migration and steps to combat deep discrimination, whether against ethnic minorities, women and girls or migrants.
Close the gap between the estimated size of modern slavery and the small numbers of victims that are detected and assisted, through implementing laws to identify victims. If laws are not working, the question should be asked why, so barriers can be found and overcome.
Ensure labour laws protect all workers, including migrant workers, temporary and casual workers, and all people working in the informal economy.
Ensure all victims can access services, support and justice, whether they are male, female, children, foreigners or nationals and regardless of migration status.

4. G20 governments and businesses address modern slavery in supply chains.
Conduct due diligence and transparency in public procurement to guarantee public funds are not inadvertently supporting modern slavery.
Conduct due diligence and transparency in private supply chains, using legislation that is harmonized across countries.
Ensure the ethical recruitment of migrant workers, including through prohibiting charging workers fees to secure work and withholding identification documents.

5. Governments prioritise responses to violations against women and girls.
Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
Eliminate harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
End abuse and exploitation of children.
Facilitate safe, orderly and responsible migration.

Country level recommendations can be found in the country studies under findings. Regional level recommendations can be found in the forthcoming regional reports.
Read the full report here
Reuters Staff
ASMARA (Reuters) - Eritrea has pulled troops back from the heavily militarized border with Ethiopia as a “gesture of reconciliation” with its giant neighbor and long-time foe, the pro-government Eritrean Press agency said on its Facebook page.

“It is imperative for all those who care about the long-term stability and economic viability of the region to do everything they can to help the two countries move beyond the senseless war that wrought so much suffering on both people,” the agency said.
Reporting by Omar Mohammed and Ed Cropley; Editing by James Macharia
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
AsiaJuly 19, 2018 / 7:57 AM / Updated 5 hours ago
Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - North Korea and Eritrea have the world’s highest rates of modern slavery, said a global survey on Thursday that highlighted how conflict and government repression are the main drivers of a crime estimated to affect more than 40 million people worldwide.
The Central African nation of Burundi also has a high prevalence of slavery, according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index published by the human rights group Walk Free Foundation.
“Each of these three countries has state-sponsored forced labor, where their government puts its own people to work for its own benefit,” said Fiona David, research chair of Minderoo Foundation, which led the data collection.

More than 40 million people were enslaved around the world as of 2016, according to an estimate by the Walk Free Foundation and the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO).

India was home to the largest total number with an estimated 8 million slaves among its 1.3 billion population, according to Walk Free’s 2018 calculation.

Two years ago, the index showed 18.3 million people living in modern slavery in India. The difference is due to changes in methodology, Walk Free said, reflecting ways of counting people enslaved on any given day or over a longer time period.
China, Pakistan, North Korea and Nigeria rounded out the top five nations with the largest number of slaves, accounting for about 60 percent of victims globally, according to Walk Free.
But North Korea had the highest percentage of its population enslaved, with one in 10 people are in modern slavery and “the clear majority forced to work by the state”, the index said.
Researchers interviewed 50 North Korean defectors who spoke of long hours and inhumane conditions in forced unpaid labor for adults and children in farming, construction and roadbuilding.

“This index makes us visible,” said Yeon-Mi Park, a defector who spoke at a news conference at United Nations headquarters.

“These people simply were born in the wrong place, and that’s what they are being punished for,” she said, describing being trafficked into China where she was sold as a child bride.
Another defector Jang Jin-Sung said North Koreans do not consider themselves slaves.

“They’ve been indoctrinated all their lives to think that whatever they do for the state is a good thing,” he said.
In Eritrea, the report said the government is “a repressive regime that abuses its conscription system to hold its citizens in forced labor for decades”.

Burundi’s government also imposes forced labor, Walk Free said, while rights groups including Human Rights Watch have implicated its security forces in murders and disappearances.
Other countries with the highest rates of slavery were the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Pakistan.

“Most of these countries are marked by conflict, with breakdowns in rule of law, displacement and a lack of physical security,” the report said.

With more than nine million people living in slavery - nearly eight in every 1,000 people - Africa had the highest rate of enslavement of any region, according to the report.

The researchers also warned that consumers in affluent countries may be purchasing billions of dollars worth of products manufactured with slave labor, including computers, mobile phones and clothing.

“Modern slavery is a first-world problem,” said Andrew Forrest, a co-founder of Australia-based Walk Free. “We are the consumers. We can fix it,” he added.
Slavery is likely more widespread than the research suggests, activists and experts say. The report noted gaps in data from Arab states, as well as a lack of information on organ trafficking and the recruitment of children by armed groups.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Jared Ferrie and Kieran Guilbert Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

By Abraham T. Zere

In barely the blink of an eye, Eritrea’s unpredictable president has completely reversed his rhetoric of the past two decades.

Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea's President Isaias Afewerki at an official dinner in Asmara. Credit: Yemane Gebremeskel, Minister of Information, Eritrea.

Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki at an official dinner in Asmara. Credit: Yemane Gebremeskel, Minister of Information, Eritrea.

In just a few weeks, relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have not just shifted dramatically but – in many ways – turned upside down.

For two decades, President Isaias Afwerki had demonised Ethiopia, seeing it as an existential threat. He used the supposed Ethiopian menace as a pretext to establish one of the world’s most repressive regimes, ban widespread freedoms, and impose indefinite military conscription. Some of the only bits of music to get official approval from Asmara were toxic war songs that reinforced this all-encompassing enmity on which the nation’s identity was based.

Now, this could not have flipped more completely. In the past month, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias have embraced warmly in both Asmara and Addis Ababa, greeted by huge doting crowds. Eritrean praise-singers have literally changed their tunes to praise peace in Amharic and Tigrinya. Today, the first flight between the two countries in 20 years landed in Asmara, carrying a fully-booked plane that included Ethiopia’s former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

In barely the blink of an eye, full-throated enmity seems to have turned into whole-hearted love – to the extent that hopeful Eritreans, whose lives have long been determined by the mood of one man, are starting to worry.

Given the opaque way in which the regime governs, Eritreans are used to following Isaias’ words and actions carefully in search of any hints. But for even those unaccustomed to observing him, his recent performance in Ethiopia was startlingly. He appeared out of character, praising the leader of his long-time foe excessively, and proclaiming that the two nation’s populations are “one people”. He then remarkably told Abiy “you are our leader” and announced happily to the crowd: “I’ve given him all responsibility of leadership and power”.

It was not long ago that it was almost unthinkable that Isaias – a man who played a leading role in Eritrea’s battle for independence and based his leadership on the need to protect against Ethiopia – might one day shake hands with his counterpart in Addis. But now, some Eritreans are afraid that the president might be about to declare Eritrea reunited with Ethiopia.

Petitions have reportedly been started and demonstrations called. There are claims being circulated on social media that certain army commanders have said that Isaias has compromised Eritrea’s national interest and should not be allowed home.

[Ethiopia-Eritrea peace: Some unanswered questions]

[Resolving the Ethiopia-Eritrea border: What actually needs to be done?]

[Ethiopia and Eritrea: Turning the promise of peace into the real thing]

The unthinkable

Amidst all this uncertainty, one thing that is clear is that the former status quo has been broken. So many of the regime’s actions were justified by referring to Ethiopian hostility, but this pretext no longer exists.

If we are to follow the logic previously laid out by Isaias, Eritrea should now be able to undergo a dramatic and rapid transformation. There have already been some swift changes, such as the opening up of telecommunications and flight routes, but there ought to be much more to come.

There should, in theory, no longer be the need for such a large army and the oppressive system of indefinite military service. Political prisoners and jailed journalists should be freed now they no longer pose a national security threat as the government had claimed. The border should be opened up and trade resumed. And people should be allowed to move freely both within and out of the country.

Eritreans are eagerly listening out for any signs that these moves may be coming, but the government is remaining characteristically quiet on these fronts. If it were to try to resume normal life in the country, however, it would take quite some time. Thanks to the government’s short-sighted and reclusive policies for two decades, the state has been reduced to a mere shell. Institutions have been dismantled over the years and power has been concentrated into the hands of a few. Those with authority are old and incapable of overseeing dynamic change, while the country loses thousands of young people every month as they flee across the border.

If Isaias is genuine in his desire for change, he could use the justification that “new blood” is needed – as he did in 1994 – to overhaul the government, removing senior officials and go after those accused of corruption. He might also place the blame for abuses and mistakes on military commanders and dispose of them. He could try to transfer power to the next generation. But he would face the problem that there is huge gap between the old and young, while decades of alienation have made most people feel like mere observers in their own affairs.

Finally, even with all these changes, the elephant in the room would remain: the same capricious individual responsible for creating one of the world’s most repressive regimes – involving systemic torture, the imprisonment of opponents and much more – would still reign supreme.

In reality, the only way that Eritrea can meaningfully move forwards now is for President Isaias to step down after a quarter of a century in control. If he did take such a courageous step, he might be remembered for playing a positive role in Eritrea’s history. Both of these things seem unthinkable. But recently, the unthinkable has been happening.




ሬድዋን ሑሴን

ኣቶ ሬድዋን ሑሴን ኣብ ኤርትራ ኣምባሳደር ኢትዮጵያ ኾይኑ ከገልግል ከምዝተሸመ፡ ወሃቢ ቃል ሚኒስትር ጉዳያት ወፃኢ ሎሚ ኣማስዩ ኣፍሊጡ።

ቅድም ኢሉ ኣብ ኣየርላንድ ኣምባሳደር ኢትዮጵያ ኮይኑ ከገልግል ዝፀንሐ ኣቶ ሬድዋን ሑሴን ድሕሪ ዒስራ ዓመት እዩ ናብ ኤርትራ በዓል ሙሉእ ስልጣን ኣምባሳደር ኮይኑ ይኸይድ ዘሎ።

ኣብ 1971 ዓ.ም ኣብ ዞባ ስልጤ ዝተወለደ ኣቶ ሬድዋን ሑሴን፡ ቅድም ክብል ሚኒስትር መናእሰይን ስፖርትን ከምኡ ድማ ብመዓርግ ሚኒስተር ሓላፊ ቤትፅሕፈት ጉዳያት ኮሚዩኒኬሽን መንግስቲ ኮይኑ ሰሪሑ'ዩ።

ዝሓለፈ ሰኑይ ድሕሪ 20 ዓመት ኣብ ኣዲስ ኣበባ ዝነበረ ኤምባሲ ኤርትራ፡ ፕረዚደንት ኢሳይያስ ኣፈወርቂ ኣብ ዝተረኸበሉ እዋን'ኳ እንተተኸፈተ፡ ኤርትራ ክሳብ ሕዚ ኣምባሳደራ ብወግዒ ኣይሸመትን።

ቅድሚ ኩናት ኢትዮ ኤርትራ ንነዊሕ ዓመታት ኣምባሳደር ኢትዮጵያ ኣብ ኤርትራ ኮይኑ ዘገልገለ ኣቶ ኣውዓሎም ወልዱ ምንባሩ ይፍለጥ።


On Monday Radio Erena broadcast news that Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia were being pressurised to return home.

I put out this tweet: “According to Radio Erena, Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia are being told to sign the regret form at the new Eritrean embassy and to go back home. What is UNHCR doing? This is refoulment and against international law.”

I have now received this email from the UNHCR clarifying the situation.

“Thanks for writing and I did see your tweet.  In response, I can tell you that while UNHCR welcomes the initial peace negotiations between the Government of Eritrea and Ethiopia as a sign of willingness to put an end of decades of dispute between both states, the discussions over the fate of the over 200,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia have yet to take place.

If and when these discussions take place, UNHCR will work with both governments to ensure that the possibility of any repatriation process is done voluntarily and that it is sustainable, so that it can signify a durable solution to the refugees’ plight. However,  as I stated above, with the peace deal having just been signed, and the embassy  only opening yesterday, the official  repatriation discussions involving UNHCR have not taken place.

While many refugees may dream of going home, it may not be the solution for others who feel they have compelling reasons to not yet do so. Voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity requires the full commitment of the country of origin to help reintegrate its own people, of the host government to help facilitate it, as well as the refugees’ willingness to do so. The answers to these uncertainties will depends on how the peace deal develops in due course, which will require meaningful discussions with both governments as well as the refugees.”

Dana Hughes
Snr Regional Comms and Spokesperson, UNCHR


July 16, 2018 Martin Plaut News

The British government has just published its 2017 Human Rights Report.

The human rights situation in Eritrea showed no improvement in 2017. The main problems related to civil and political rights. The authorities restricted freedom of expression: Eritrea is a one-party state with no political opposition or independent media. Citizens continued to be subject to arbitrary extension of national service, a form of modern slavery. The
right to freedom of religion or belief was violated. Citizens suffered arbitrary detention on religious grounds, with a lack of due process in subsequent criminal proceedings.
This contrasts with the progress which  Eritrea made in 2017 on social, cultural and economic rights. The UK has supported the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the government of Eritrea to address gender inequality in education and wellbeing. The UNDP assess that more girls are now in school compared with 15 years ago, and most
regions have reached gender parity in primary education. Eritrea achieved antenatal care attendance of 98% of pregnant mothers, skilled delivery of 60% of births, and immunisation coverage of 95% of babies.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea, Sheila Keetharuth, was continually denied access to the country by the government and was therefore unable to fulfil the mandate given by  the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). However, we welcome the Government of Eritrea’s continued cooperation with the UN OHCHR, including with representatives who visited Eritrea for the second year in succession, in October. Despite cooperating with this visit, the government gave no update regarding progress made on the four-year implementation programme agreed with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) following Eritrea’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2014.

The UK continued to work bilaterally and with international partners in the EU and the UN to press Eritrea  to improve its human rights record. The UK made statements in human rights dialogues on 14 June in the HRC in Geneva and at the UN General Assembly Third Committee meeting in New York on 27 October. On both occasions, the UK stressed the need
to ensure that those engaged in the national military service system had a clearly defined limit to their period of service, and received financial compensation commensurate to their duties. We also reiterated calls for the Government of Eritrea to implement the Eritrean Constitution, to respect fully the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to release individuals held in
arbitrary detention.
Severe constraints on media freedoms have resulted in the absence of independent media in the country. The diaspora radio station, Radio Erena, received an award from the London-based charity World One Media on 6 June, in recognition of the continued absence of a free press and media in Eritrea. The station provides an alternative voice through its cultural, social, political and entertainment programmes. A number of journalists and politicians remained in long-term detention. Among these is Dawit Isaac, who was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in absentia on 31 March.
In late October, several senior Catholic and Muslim figures were arrested as the government sought to exert influence over religious schools and colleges. This led to protests on 31 October by between 100 and 200 students, parents and administrators from a Muslim school in Asmara, who were dispersed by gunfire from the Eritrean security forces. The UK will continue to monitor closely reports of the excessive use of force, of arbitrary arrests, including of minors, and of the lack of clear due process. FCO officials raised these
issues in November with the Eritrean Ambassador to London.
On 26 June, the UK joined international partners in calling attention to the prolonged detention of Patriarch Abune Antonios, the former head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. The Patriarch has been under house arrest since 2007. For the first time since his detention, he was allowed on 16 July to attend mass. However, he has not been seen in public since, and he
appears to remain under house arrest. The European Parliament, in a resolution on 6 July, condemned human rights violations in Eritrea and in particular highlighted the cases of Dawit Isaac and Patriarch Antonios.
In 2018, the UK will continue to press  the Government of Eritrea to improve its human rights record. Alongside international partners, the UK will seek to work constructively with Eritrea, encouraging engagement with the UPR process and OHCHR, and urging improved cooperation with the HRC and any Special Rapporteur appointed.


Ethiopia based journalists have been asked to go to Addis Airport early on Saturday
Eritrean President Isaias to visit Ethiopia: Eritrea minister

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will visit Ethiopia on Saturday, Eritrea’s information minister Yemane Meskel said on Friday, days after the two neighbors declared their “state of war” over.

The visit comes a week after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea and signed a pact on resuming ties with Isaias.

Under the historic deal, the Horn of Africa neighbors agreed to open embassies, develop ports and resume flights, in concrete signs of rapprochement away two decades of hostility since war erupted over their disputed border in 1998.

(Reporting by Aaaron Maasho; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely)