Unlawful killings and torture in Eritrea – Annual Human Rights Report

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Eritrea, with a population of an estimated 5.5 million, is a one-party state that became independent in 1993 when citizens voted for independence from Ethiopia, following 30 years of civil war. The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), previously known as the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, is the sole political party and has controlled the country since 1991. The country’s president, Isaias Afwerki, who heads the PFDJ and the armed forces, dominated the country, and the government continued to postpone presidential and legislative elections; the latter have never been held. The border dispute with Ethiopia continued, despite international efforts at demarcation. The situation was used by the government to justify severe restrictions on civil liberties. Although civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, consistent and systemic gross human rights violations persisted unabated at the government’s behest.

Human rights abuses included abridgement of citizens’ right to change their government through a democratic process; unlawful killings by security forces; torture and beating of prisoners, sometimes resulting in death; abuse and torture of national service evaders, some of whom reportedly died from their injuries while in detention; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of national service evaders and their family members; executive interference in the judiciary and the use of a special court system to limit due process; and infringement on privacy rights, including roundups of young men and women for national service, and the arrest and detention of the family members of service evaders. The government severely restricted freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion. The government also limited freedom of movement and travel for citizens in the national service, foreign residents, employees of diplomatic missions, the UN, and humanitarian and development agencies. Restrictions continued on the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Female genital mutilation (FGM) was widespread, and societal abuse and discrimination against women, members of the Kunama ethnic group, homosexuals, and persons with HIV/AIDS were problems. There were limitations on worker rights, including forced labor.

The government acted as a principal source and conduit for arms to antigovernment, extremist, and insurgent groups in Somalia, according to a June report issued by the UN Munitions Monitoring Group.

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Posted by on Mar 13 2010 Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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