It has long been the case that concern for ‘human rights’ by western powers has been used as a Sword of Damocles — an ever dangling threat over nations that refuse to the tow line. The UN’s silence of the deplorable deportation of Eritreans and those of Eritrean origin from Ethiopia in the late 1990’s is evidence of the selectivity of the ‘concern’ for human rights.
In the latest manifestation of the selective attitude of the UN’s Special Rapporteur to Eritrea towards human rights, it has released yet another rehashed, biased and fundamentally flawed report on Eritrea, a report which has little or no bearing at all to the reality in Eritrea — especially in a year that was dominated by the Covid19 pandemic. It is most regrettable that the UN through its Special Rapporteur has chosen to unnecessarily politicise human rights and use human rights as a tool to try and bring pressure to bear on sovereign nations like Eritrea.
Although the Special Rapporteur is only mandated to report on human rights inside Eritrea, in what is clearly an overstepping of the remit of its mandate, the Special Rapporteur seems to be under the illusion that it has the right to interfere in the internal matters of Eritrea and has the temerity to demand that the government of the State of Eritrea, a government of a sovereign African nation, justify its polices to it — in a manner that no sovereign nation would find acceptable.
While the report spends considerable time and effort trawling through the copious amounts of unverified, unsubstantiated and untrue reports about Eritrea, it makes no mention of the positive engagement of the Eritrean government with the UN in three cycles of the Universal Periodic Review. Neither is there any mention of the fact that of the recommendations submitted to Eritrea in these three cycles, the Eritrean government has accepted and implemented nearly 80% of the recommendations put forward by the review, and that the Eritrean government has explained the reasons behind why it has been unable to implement the remaining recommendations.
Eritrea’s participation in the Cotonou Agreement and its engagement with the European Union through the mechanisms outlined in the agreement is yet another example of Eritrea’s willingness to engage with those in the international community who are ready for a genuine engagement with Eritrea.
It is most unfortunate that the UN’s Special Rapporteur has chosen to deliberately or unwittingly misrepresent the facts in Eritrea. Although the UN’ Special Rapporteur’s latest report was supposedly covering the period between 5th May 2020 to 28th April 2021 — a period in which Eritrea, much like the rest of the World, was doing all it could to limit the devastating spread of the Corona pandemic and had implemented strict lockdown rules in Eritrea — in what can only be considered to be a clear indication of how much the report is far removed from the reality in Eritrea, the report condemns Eritrea for prohibiting the congregation in public of more than seven people during this period.
Whereas the Special Rapporteur had been tasked to report about the situation in Eritrea, it is unclear as to why it chose to focus so profoundly on the war in neighbouring Ethiopia, when there are already several ongoing investigations into what has been happening there since November 2020. The covering of the war in Ethiopia and the apportioning of blame on Eritrea without due process, while lamenting the supposed lack of rule of law in Eritrea, is the very epitome of hypocrisy. There can be no doubt that the real reason behind the Special Rapporteur’s decision to comment on the conflict in Ethiopia, is to try and unduly influence the outcome of the ongoing investigations and a vain attempt to legitimise dubious sources of news — by using them as references in the report. Although the report goes into some detail about the alleged involvement of Eritrean troops in the fighting in northern Ethiopia — despite the war being outside of the scope of mandate of the Special Rapporteur — in a glaring display of the inherent bias that permeates throughout the report, there is no mention of the rocket attack on Asmara — a World heritage site and the capital of Eritrea — by the Tigray People Liberation Front ( which has since been designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian Parliament) in November 2020, in which no less than sixteen rockets were fired at densely populated areas of the capital city of Eritrea. The fact that the report makes no mention of the attack on Eritrean civilians, severely undermines its claim to be concerned for the rights of Eritreans and is a clear indication — if any was needed — that the report has chosen to completely ignore the challenges and threats that Eritrea faced and continues to face. For the report to ignore the attack on Eritrea and to then go on and condemn the Eritrean government for the measures it took to safeguard its border and the security of its citizens, can only be seen as a tacit acknowledgement by the UN, that the right to defend one’s sovereignty, is the sole preserve of the rich and powerful.
In a manner reminiscent of past colonial times, the report has the audacity to prescribe to Eritrea, a sovereign African nation, programmes that have little or no bearing to the current challenges faced by Eritrea.
Although the Special Rapporteur has expressed a desire to visit Eritrea to carry out an investigation, what is unclear is what such a visit is supposed to achieve, when clearly the Special Rapporteur will be going to Eritrea with its mind already made up and determined to prove itself right — regardless of the reality on the ground. It is therefore very doubtful that if the Special Rapporteur were to be granted access to Eritrea, that it will have the integrity or the courage to amend its currently held deeply entrenched views. The Special Rapporteur’s call to be allowed into Eritrea cannot be seen as nothing more than a disingenuous attempt to further tarnish the image of Eritrea and its government.
The role of Eritrea in bringing peace and stability in the Horn of Africa is there to be seen by all. The UN, rather than work against Eritrea, should aim to be a genuine partner to bring about peace, stability and development in the region.