Explosive UN report on Eritrea further undermines UK policy

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08 Jun 2016

A UN Commission has accused the highest levels of the Eritrean regime of perpetrating crimes against humanity in an explosive new report.

The UN Commission of Enquiry into Eritrea has published its latest investigations into the country, frequently referred to as ‘Africa’s North Korea’ and found no improvement in the human rights situation since the Commission’s previous report last year.

It has recommended that the UN Security Council refers the situation in Eritrea to the International Criminal Court for consideration and urged the international community to offer protection to Eritrean refugees who are seeking asylum.

The report states that "the façade of calm and normality that is apparent to the occasional visitor to the country, and others confined to sections of the capital, belies the consistent patterns of serious human rights violations.”

The Commission said crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts have been committed ‘by the highest levels of the state’ as part of a campaign to instil fear in, deter opposition from and ultimately to control the Eritrean civilian population.

Investigators found that national/military service is still mandatory in the country, with the Eritrean Government recently confirmed it had no plans to add a limit.

The indefinite duration of military and national service programmes are frequently cited by Eritreans as the main reason for fleeing the country. In 2015, 47,025 Eritreans applied for asylum in Europe, many making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in unsafe boats, exploited by smugglers in search of safety.

The report calls into further question the UK Government’s widely condemned current policy which is resulting in many Eritreans being wrongly refused asylum in this country.

The key guidelines the Home Office uses for helping to assess Eritrean’s claims for protection have been widely discredited and condemned. Last month, most of these guidelines were mysteriously removed from the Government’s website and Immigration Minister James Brokenshire promised new guidelines would be forthcoming.

Last month, the Prime Minister referred to Eritrea as a ‘deeply undemocratic and autocratic country that has done appalling things to its people’ and promised to consider concerns about the Home Offices’ guidelines.

Meanwhile, shockingly, many Eritrean refugees here have to rely on the courts to provide them with the protection they need: with 85% of Eritreans who appeal refusals of their asylum claim being successful.

Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: "This report should send shockwaves throughout Whitehall. It confirms that the ongoing gravity of the human rights situation in Eritrea; once again finding evidence of crimes against humanity.

"When a regime is on the verge of being referred to the international criminal court for gross human rights violations, it is dangerous and absurd that its citizens are being denied refuge in Britain.

"The UK Home Office must urgently change its policies and begin protecting Eritrea’s escapees. It must not continue trying to cover up the situation in Eritrea, however inconvenient it finds the truth to be.”