Middle East and North Africa

“No progress” on human rights in Eritrea according to UN

Eritrea’s repressive policies have been lambasted by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in a statement which accused the country of making “no progress” in the last six years.

Sheila B. Keetharuth told the UN Human Rights Council dialogue on Eritrea that little had changed since 2012 and that “patterns of human rights violations … continued unabated.”

But her report was criticised by a Geneva-based UN watchdog, which highlighted the ongoing denial of religious freedom and the detention of thousands of Christians, which Keetharuth “failed to closely assess”.

Eritrea has been ruled by a repressive Marxist government since the country became independent from Ethiopia in 1993 following a 30-year war. Religious freedom is severely curtailed and only three Christian denominations are legally permitted, although the government moved to shut down a number of Christian schools and clinics in January 2018.

Non-registered religious groups, which are considered a threat to the state, are severely persecuted; as of April 2017, there were thought be almost 3,000 religious prisoners in Eritrea, most of whom are Christians. Many are detained in appalling conditions.