UN probe signals 'systematic, widespread' abuses in Eritrea

UN investigation signals severe and systematic abuses in Eritrea leading to mass exodus

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A UN investigation reported on Monday that the Eritrean government is responsible for systematic and widespread human rights abuses, with an estimated 5,000 people fleeing the country every month.

Following a year long investigation, the UN commision of inquiry into the human rights situation in Eritrea has produced a 500-page report detailing the routine arrests, tortures, and killings in the country which has been under autocratic rule of Isaias Afewerki's administration for the past 22 years.

The report underlined the slave-like treatment faced by those forced into the armed forces over the years by the country’s mandatory conscription policies.

"The commission finds that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea under the authority of the government," the report said, adding that some of the abuses "may constitute crimes against humanity."

Sheila Keetharuth, the UN's top expert on the rights situation in Eritrea, said in a statement that the violations in Eritrea were occurring on a "scope and scale seldom witnessed elsewhere."

The report also states that the number of Eritreans attempting to illegally cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe is second only to the number of Syrians.

"Faced with a seemingly hopeless situation they feel powerless to change, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans are fleeing their country," the UN report read.

"In desperation, they resort to deadly escape routes through deserts and neighbouring war-torn countries and across dangerous seas in search of safety."

Last year the UN reported that there were nearly 360,000 Eritrean refugees worldwide, many of whom fled the country during its 30 year struggle for independence from Ethiopia which ended in 1991.

TRTWorld and agencies