State of Eritrea
Joined United Nations: 28 May 1993
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 12 February 2013
6,086,495 (July 2012 est.)
President elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term
(eligible for a second term); the most recent and only election held 8
Next election date: uncertain as the National Assembly did not
hold a presidential election in December 2001 as anticipated)
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
According to the Eritrean Constitution, the president is both the
chief of state and head of government and is head of the State
Council and National Assembly
Next scheduled election: Uncertain
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Nine recognized ethnic groups: Tigrinya 55%, Tigre 30%, Saho 4%, Kunama 2%, Rashaida 2%, Bilen 2%, other (Afar, Beni
Amir, Nera) 5% (2010 est.)
Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
Transitional government with 6 regions (zobatat, singular - zoba); Legal system's primary basis is the Ethiopian legal code of 1957,
with revisions; new civil, commercial, and penal codes have not yet been promulgated; government also issues unilateral
proclamations setting laws and policies; also relies on customary and post-independence-enacted laws and, for civil cases involving
Muslims, Islamic law; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: President elected by the National Assembly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); the most recent and only
election held 8 June 1993 (next election date uncertain as the National Assembly did not hold a presidential election in December
2001 as anticipated)
Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly (150 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: in May 1997, following the adoption of the new constitution, 75 members of the PFDJ Central Committee (the old
Central Committee of the EPLF), 60 members of the 527-member Constituent Assembly, which had been established in 1997 to
discuss and ratify the new constitution, and 15 representatives of Eritreans living abroad were formed into a Transitional National
Assembly to serve as the country's legislative body until countrywide elections to a National Assembly were held; although only 75
of 150 members of the Transitional National Assembly were elected, the constitution stipulates that once past the transition stage, all
members of the National Assembly will be elected by secret ballot of all eligible voters; National Assembly elections scheduled for
December 2001 were postponed indefinitely
Judicial: High Court - regional, subregional, and village courts; also have military and special courts
Afar, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other Cushitic languages
Eritrea is an ancient name, associated in the past with its Greek form Erythraía (Greek alphabet Ερυθραία), and its derived Latin
form Erythræa. In the past, Eritrea had given its name to the Red Sea. In 1998 a cranium of a hominid, an intermediate between a
Homo erectus and an archaic Homo sapiens was found in Buya, Eritrea by American scientists dated to over 1 million years old
(the oldest of its kind), providing a link between hominids and the earliest humans. It is also believed that Eritrea was on the route
out of Africa that was used by early man to colonize the rest of the Old World. Furthermore, the Eritrean Research Project Team
composed of Eritrean, Canadian, American, Dutch and French scientists, discovered in 1999 a site with stone and obsidian tools
dated to over 125 000 years old (from the paleolithic) era near the Bay of Zula south of Massawa along the Red Sea coast.
Furthermore it is believed that the Eritrean section of the Denakil Depression was a major player in terms of human evolution and
may "document the entire evolution of Homo erectus up to the transition to anatomically modern humans." Eritrean history is one of
the oldest of sub-Saharan Africa and even the world. Together with Ethiopia and the western Red Sea coast of Sudan, it is
considered the most likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt (or "Ta Netjeru," meaning land of the Gods),
whose first mention dates to the 25th century BC. The earliest known reference to the Sea of Eritrea (referring to the Red Sea,
"Eritrea" meaning "red") from which the modern state takes its name is from Aeschylus (Fragment 67) in which he refers to the
"Mare Erythreum" ("Red Sea") as "the lake that is the jewel of Ethiopia" (though Ethiopia in this case most probably meant Nubia or
Africa south of Egypt in general). Around the 8th century BC, a kingdom known as D'mt was established in northern Ethiopia and
Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia. Its successor, the Kingdom of Aksum, emerged around the 1st century BC or
1st century AD and grew to be, according to Mani, one of the four greatest civilizations in the world, along with China, Persia, and
Rome. Central areas of Eritrea and most tribes in today's northern Ethiopia share a common background and cultural heritage in the
Kingdom of Aksum (and its successor dynasties) of the first millennium (as well as the first millennium BC kingdom of D’mt), and in
its Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church (today, with an autocephalous Eritrean branch), as well as in its Ge'ez language. With the
rise of Islam in the 7th century the power of Aksum declined and the Kingdom became isolated, falling to the pagan or Jewish
queen Gudit in the 9th or 10th century and the rule of the Zagwe dynasty. The Dahlak archipelago, northern and western Eritrea,
came under increasing control of Islamic powers based in Yemen and Beja lands in Sudan. The Beja rulers in Eritrea, while
maintaining their own language and culture, also adopted the local Ge'ez based language of Axumite origins which later came to
evolve into Tigre with a heavy Arabic influence and serve as the regional lingua franca among diverse nomadic tribes. The Beja were
often in alliance with the Umayyads of Arabia who themselves established footholds along stretches of the Eritrean coastline and the
Dahlak archipelago while the Funj of Sudan exacted tribute from the adjacent western lowlands of Eritrea. The culmination of
Islamic dominance in the region occurred in 1557 when an Ottoman invasion during the time of Suleiman I and under Özdemir
Pasha (who had declared the province of Habesh in 1555) took the port city of Massawa and the adjacent city of Arqiqo, even
taking Debarwa, then capital of the local Ethiopian ruler Bahr negus Yeshaq (ruler of Midri Bahri). The Eritrean highland regions
enjoyed significant autonomy from the Ethiopian empire from the Yeshaq, until the early 1800s. The Ottoman state maintained
control over much of the northern coastal areas for nearly three hundred years, leaving their possessions (the province of Habesh, to
their Egyptian heirs in 1865 before being given to the Italians in 1885. In the southeast of Eritrea, the Sultanate of Awsa, an Afar
sultanate, came to dominate the coastline after its founding in 1577, becoming vassal to the Emperor of Ethiopia under the reign of
Susenyos. Meanwhile the central highlands of Eritrea preserved their Orthodox Christian Aksumite heritage. The boundaries of
modern Eritrea and the entire region were established during the European colonial period between Italian, British and French
colonialists as well as the lone landlocked African Empire of Ethiopia which found itself surrounded and its boundaries defined by
said colonial powers. Ethiopia was, for a time until the Italian conquest of Ethiopia in 1935, the only independent country in Africa
(with the exception of Liberia). The Kingdom of Italy created Eritrea at the end of the nineteenth century, using the classical name
for the Red Sea. The Italian possession of maritime areas previously claimed by Abyssinia/Ethiopia was formalized in 1889 with the
signing of the Treaty of Wuchale with Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia (r. 1889–1913) after the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia at the
battle of Adua where Italy launched an effort to expand its possessions from Eritrea into the more fertile Abyssinian hinterland.
Italian administration of Eritrea brought improvements in the medical and agricultural sectors of Eritrean society. Benito Mussolini's
rise to power in Italy in 1922 brought profound changes to the colonial government in Eritrea. Mussolini established the Italian
Empire in May 1936. When the British army conquered Eritrea from the Italians in spring 1941, most of the infrastructures and the
industrial areas were extremely damaged. The following Italian guerrilla war was supported by many Eritrean colonial troops until
the Italian armistice in September 1943. Eritrea was placed under British military administration after the Italian surrender in World
War II. In the United Nations the debate over the fate of the former Italian colonies continued. The British and Americans preferred
to cede Eritrea to the Ethiopians as a reward for their support during World War II. On September 11, 1952, Emperor Haile
Selassie of Ethiopia (r. 1930–74) ratified the constitution. The Representative Assembly subsequently became the Eritrean
Assembly. In 1952 the United Nations resolution to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia went into effect. Militant opposition to the
incorporation of Eritrea into Ethiopia had begun in 1958 with the founding of the Eritrean Liberation Movement (ELM), an
organization made up mainly of students, intellectuals, and urban wage laborers. During the 1960s, the Eritrean independence
struggle was led by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). By 1971 ELF activity had become enough of a threat that the emperor had
declared martial law in Eritrea. The United States played a facilitative role in the peace talks in Washington during the months
leading up to the May 1991 fall of the Mengistu regime. In May 1991 the EPLF established the Provisional Government of Eritrea
(PGE) to administer Eritrean affairs until a referendum was held on independence and a permanent government established.Eritreans
voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence on April 23-25, 1993 in a UN-monitored referendum. The Eritrean authorities
declared Eritrea an independent state on April 27. In July 1996 the Eritrean Constitution was ratified, but it has yet to be
implemented. In 1998 a border dispute with Ethiopia led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War in which thousands of soldiers from both
countries died. Eritrea suffered from significant economic and social stress, including massive population displacement, reduced
economic development, and one of Africa's more severe landmine problems. The border war ended in 2000 with the signing of the
Algiers Agreement. One of the terms of the agreement was the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation, known as the
United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE); Roughly 10% of the population of Eritrea works in the public sector, fuel
is strictly rationed, and all media outlets are state-run. Health care is cheaply available where it exists, and there are state-run
campaigns concerning issues such as HIV infection and female genital mutilation.Due to his frustration with the stalemated peace
process with Ethiopia, the President of Eritrea Isaias Afewerki wrote a series of Eleven Letters to the UN Security Council and
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Despite the Algiers Agreement, tense relations with Ethiopia have continued and led to regional
instability. His government has also been condemned for allegedly arming and financing the insurgency in Somalia; the United States
is considering labeling Eritrea a "State Sponsor of Terrorism," however, many experts on the topic have shied from this assertion,
stating that "If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea." In
December 2007, an estimated 4000 Eritrean troops remained in the 'demilitarized zone' with a further 120,000 along its side of the
border. Ethiopia maintained 100,000 troops along its side. In September, 2012, the Israeli 'Haaretz' newspaper published an
expose on Eritrea. There are over 40,000 Eritrean refugees in Israel.  Eritrea has been nicknamed as the "North Korea of
Africa," and is among the harshest dictatorships in the world, where limitations on freedom of movement are extreme and
punishments severe. The group 'Doctors Without Borders' ranks the place 179th among 179 countries when it comes to freedom of
expression, even lower than North Korea. One of the most glaring reflections of the harshness of the regime in Asmara, the Eritrean
capital, is the mandatory military service that citizens on average serve from age 18 until they are 55 and which has spurred many to
flee. 'Amnesty International' notes that in a country where the average life expectancy is 61 or 62, this means many spend their
entire adult lives in the army, frequently facing hard labor and meager wages. Women have fled the army because the army bars
them from getting pregnant, denying them the opportunity to start a family if they remained in the Eritrean military. On the other
hand, Eritrean army officers have the right to have sex with subordinate female soldiers, as it's not legally considered rape. Every
month about 3,000 people flee the East African country. According to a recent United Nations report, more than 84 percent of
Eritreans who have sought asylum around the world have been recognized as refugees deserving asylum status.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Eritrea
Since independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced the economic problems of a small, desperately poor country,
accentuated by the recent implementation of restrictive economic policies. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the
sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Like the economies of many African nations, a large
share of the population - nearly 80% - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but they produce only a small share of total output.
Since the conclusion of the Ethiopian-Eritrea war in 2000, the government has maintained a firm grip on the economy, expanding the
use of the military and party-owned businesses to complete Eritrea's development agenda. The government strictly controls the use
of foreign currency by limiting access and availability. Few private enterprises remain in Eritrea. Eritrea's economy depends heavily
on taxes paid by members of the diaspora. Erratic rainfall and the delayed demobilization of agriculturalists from the military continue
to interfere with agricultural production, and Eritrea's recent harvests have been unable to meet the food needs of the country.
Eritrea's development of copper and gold production through Canadian mining companies will drive Eritrea's economic growth over
the next few years. The government is likely to continue diverting resources to its military instead of wide-scale economic
development or investment plans. Eritrea's economic future depends upon its ability to master social problems such as illiteracy,
unemployment, and low skills, and more importantly, on the government's willingness to support a true market economy.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Eritrea)
Independent local sources of political information on Eritrean domestic politics are scarce; in September 2001 the government
closed down all of the nation's privately owned print media, and outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held
without trial, according to domestic and international observers, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. In 2004
the U.S. State Department declared Eritrea a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its alleged record of religious persecution.
At independence, the government faced formidable challenges. Beginning with a nascent judicial system, and an education system in
shambles, it has attempted to build the institutions of government from scratch, with varying success. Since then, the impact of the
border war with Ethiopia, and continued army mobilisation, has contributed to the lack of a skilled workforce. The present
government includes legislative, executive, and judicial bodies.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Eritrea
Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision but, neither
party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; Sudan accuses Eritrea of
supporting eastern Sudanese rebel groups; in 2008 Eritrean troops moved across the border on Ras Doumera peninsula and
occupied Doumera Island with undefined sovereignty in the Red Sea
IDPs: 3,773 (Somalia) (2012)
IDPs: 10,000 (border war with Ethiopia from 1998-2000; it has not been possible to confirm whether whether remaining IDPs are
still living with hosts or have been returned or resettled) (2009)
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Eritrea
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
The Government of Eritrea is an authoritarian regime under the control of President Isaias Afwerki. The People’s Front for Democracy
and Justice (PFDJ), headed by President Afwerki, is the sole political party. The PFDJ has controlled the country since 1991. Elections
have not taken place since the country’s independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Elements of the security forces frequently and with
impunity acted independently of civilian control.
There were consistent and persistent reports of serious human rights violations. These abuses included, but were not limited to, harsh
and life-threatening prison conditions that included torture and incommunicado detention, which sometimes resulted in death; forced
labor of indefinite duration through the mandatory national service program; and the severe restriction of civil liberties including freedom
of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion.
Other abuses included the following: unlawful killings by security forces; politically motivated disappearances; 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; the detention of political prisoners and detainees; and infringement of privacy rights. They also
included a lack of due process and excessive pretrial detention, and severe limits on freedom of movement and travel for all citizens,
residents, and humanitarian agencies. All remaining international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were forced to close during the
year, and the activities of the UN were severely restricted. Societal abuse and discrimination against women, the Kunama ethnic group,
gay men and lesbians, members of certain religious groups, and persons with disabilities occurred. Female genital mutilation (FGM) was
prevalent in rural areas. The government limited worker rights. Child abuse and forced child labor were problems.
The government did not take steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere
in the government. Impunity was the norm.
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23 June 2008
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations: ERITREA
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the report, the written replies to its list of issues (CRC/C/ERI/Q/3 and Add.1) and legal
documentation as well as the constructive dialogue with a high-level, cross-sectional delegation. The Committee would have appreciated
the presence of a representative of the inter-ministerial Committee responsible for coordination of policies on the rights of children.
B. Follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
3. The Committee welcomes a number of positive developments in the reporting period, inter alia:
(a) Proclamation No. 158 of 2007 aimed at abolishing female genital mutilation;
(b) The efforts made to reduce the number of infant and under five mortality rates.
4. The Committee also welcomes the accession to the following international human rights instruments:
(a) The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography on 16 February 2005;
(b) The Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 16 February 2005.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
5. The Committee acknowledges that the aftermath of the armed conflict as well as poverty and drought continue to hamper progress in
the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
D. Main areas of concern and recommendations
1. General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6, of the Convention)
The Committee’s previous recommendations
6. The Committee notes with satisfaction that certain concerns and recommendations (see CRC/C/15/Add.204) made upon the
consideration of the initial report of the State party in 2003 have been addressed. However, the Committee is concerned that
recommendations regarding, inter alia, legal reform, national plan of action, independent monitoring, resources allocation, data collection,
harmful traditional practices, birth registration, child labour and juvenile justice have not been given sufficient follow-up. The Committee
notes that those concerns and recommendations are reiterated in the present document.
7. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to address those recommendations contained in the concluding
observations on the initial report that have not yet been implemented and to provide adequate follow-up to the recommendations
contained in the present concluding observations on the second and third periodic report.
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Worst of the Worst Country Targeted by Human Rights Council
Jul 9 2012 - 5:55pm
The Eritrean government’s suppression of the basic political rights and civil liberties of its citizens continued in 2011. Plans for national
elections remained on permanent hold 18 years after independence, and a ban on independent media and foreign organizations remained
in place during the year. Meanwhile, a UN report accused Eritrea of planning a terrorist attack against neighboring Ethiopia.
Freedom House welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s adoption, by consensus, of a much-needed resolution
appointing a special rapporteur to investigate human rights abuses in Eritrea.
The resolution, introduced by Djibouti and co-sponsored by the US, was passed on the final day of the Council’s 20th session. The
special rapporteur will closely monitor a dismal human rights situation as Eritrean citizens continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and
detention, often under brutal conditions of confinement.
Eritrea is identified by Freedom House as being one of the world’s worst human rights abusers. The government remains hostile toward
civil society and media, effectively banning independent press and placing onerous restrictions on NGO activity, often through taxes and
stringent licensure requirements. Public dissent is stifled through the use of arbitrary arrest. Religious freedom is also severely hampered
by the government, which only officially recognizes four faiths. Parishioners of other churches, as well as religious leaders, are reported
to have been jailed or tortured. The patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church has been under house arrest since 2006 for opposing the
state’s regulation of religious activities.
Eritrea is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not
Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
The worst drought to affect the Horn of Africa in 60 years has affected more than 12 million people throughout the region. However,
President Isaias claimed that the drought stopped at his borders, and continued to limit access to food and humanitarian organizations.
Meanwhile, approximately 900 Eritreans risked their lives to flee the country each month.
Eritrea is not an electoral democracy. Created in 1994 as a successor to the EPLF, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice
(PFDJ) is the only legal political party. Instead of moving toward a democratic system, the PFDJ government has become harshly
authoritarian since the end of the war with Ethiopia.
A new constitution was ratified in 1997, calling for “conditional” political pluralism and an elected 150-seat National Assembly, which
would choose the president from among its members by a majority vote. However, this system has never been implemented, as national
elections planned for 2001 have been postponed indefinitely. The Transitional National Assembly is comprised of 75 PFDJ members and
75 elected members. In 2004, regional assembly elections were conducted, but they were carefully orchestrated by the PFDJ and
offered no real choice to voters. The PFDJ and the military, both strictly subordinate to President Isaias, are in practice the only
institutions of political significance in Eritrea.
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24 May 2012
Report 2012: No longer business as usual for tyranny and injustice
Freedom of expression and association were severely restricted. No political opposition parties, independent media, civil society
organizations or unregistered faith groups were permitted. Military conscription was compulsory, and frequently extended indefinitely.
Thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners continued to be held in arbitrary detention. Torture and other ill-treatment
were common. Detention conditions were appalling. Large numbers of Eritreans continued to flee the country.
A severe drought hit the region, leaving more than 10 million people in need of urgent assistance. Eritrea’s government denied the
country was affected by the drought or food shortages, and denied UN aid agencies and humanitarian organizations access to the
In November, the government informed the EU delegation in the capital Asmara that it intended to close all ongoing EU development
In July, a report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea stated that Eritrea had co-planned a bomb attack on an AU summit
in Ethiopia in January.
In December, the UN Security Council reinforced sanctions on Eritrea for continuing to provide financial, training and other support to
armed opposition groups, including al-Shabab; for failing to resolve the border dispute with Djibouti; and for planning to attack the AU
summit. The Security Council demanded that Eritrea cease all efforts to destabilize states, end the use of “diaspora tax” on Eritreans
abroad to fund the destabilization of the region, and stop using threats of violence and other illicit means to collect the tax. It also
demanded transparency on the use of profits from the mining industry and requested that all states promote vigilance in business dealings
with Eritrea to ensure no assets contributed to Eritrea’s violation of Security Council resolutions.
Two Djiboutian prisoners of war escaped from Eritrea, despite the Eritrean government’s denial that it continued to hold such
prisoners since the clashes between the two countries in 2008. In December, the UN demanded that Eritrea publish information about
any Djiboutian combatants held as prisoners of war.
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UN Human Rights Council: Eritrea, Belarus Told to End Abuses
Rights Body Stops Short of Urging Syria Referral to International Criminal Court
July 6, 2012
The United Nations Human Rights Council took bold action to address the chronically poor human rights situations in Belarus and
Eritrea, Human Rights Watch said today, at the closing of the council’s 20th session.
The council unanimously condemned the “widespread and systematic violations” in Eritrea and appointed a UN expert to investigate
rights violations in the country. The council also appointed an expert to monitor the human rights situation in Belarus, in a vote of 22 to
5, with 20 abstentions.
“The Human Rights Council has finally condemned Eritrea for its appalling human rights record,” said Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at
Human Rights Watch. “Now that the UN has appointed an expert to investigate and report on abuses, Eritrea can no longer use its
political isolation to avoid international scrutiny.”
The Human Rights Council resolution on Eritrea condemned abuses including the detention of journalists, human rights defenders,
political reformists and religious leaders; as well as forced conscription, enforced disappearances, torture, and severe restrictions on
freedom of expression. It also denounced the government's “shoot to kill” policy to prevent Eritreans from escaping the country.
The country holds an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 political prisoners, and the resolution called on the government to release them. It also
called on the government to end indefinite military service, torture, and arbitrary detention and the “guilt by association” policy that
targets family members of those who evade national service or seek to flee Eritrea. Eritrea should give free and unhindered access to the
UN expert to carry out the council’s mandate, Human Rights Watch said.
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“Economic Development Means Promoting the Standard Of Living and Improving the Quality Of Life of Citizens” President
Friday, 01 February 2013
They say history repeats itself. However, the fact of the matter is the region that we are living in has its own nature. There is the fact of
state formation that had resulted from colonization. From that perspective we can ask; are these hostilities new? Are they being repeated?
In what way are they being repeated? Ever since the time of state formation what challenged Eritrea as a country and as a nation is not
the condition of the Eritrean people, it is rather the interests of others. The best understanding therefore is obtained when one sees the
bigger picture starting from that point. Eritrea is one of the states that were first established in Africa. And that is not boasting or
twisting history; it is just the plain truth. Eritrea is one of the countries that were formed at the beginning of the expansion of colonization
in the 19th century. Ethiopia, setting aside the conundrum it entails, was not even there back then. The real challenge arose during the
period of the abolition of colonization. When countries were being given their freedom and the right for self-determination, the people of
Eritrea were denied their freedom and their right for self-determination.
The reason was the World War II victors, the allied forces, which were led by America, impeded it saying that it doesn’t match their
strategies and interests of the world. We didn’t get our freedom because we were victims of the strategy and interests of Washington or
America. Then the effort to meet the challenge that had resulted from this condition followed. And that effort went beyond to ensure
freedom and secure the right for self-determination. Freedom didn’t come easy. If we see the Cold War era, where the groups led by the
Soviet Union and US had their own strategic interests, the challenge was even tougher. Yet, we waged an exigent struggle and achieved
independence. Ethiopia got to its real shape. The allied struggle of the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia changed the map of this region.
Two years earlier, a change (regardless of what nature) had come in Sudan. The regime in Somali had collapsed and the Soviet Union
disintegrated due to Gorbachev’s doing. A global change resulted. After the end of the Cold War there wasn’t any sort of strategy taken
as a principle in Washington. The world changed, whether their perception of this change was right or not is another subject. But, how
did that affect our region?
The end of the Cold War encouraged an attitude of “adventurism” in the US. It spread out a mind-set saying “we are alone,” “there is no
one else to control the world,” “and from now on we shall control the world for the next hundred years.” Then, in every region, there
came different sorts of divisions of forces. Within this concept, history repeated itself in a new dimension: ruling Africa through
representatives or regional powers. You put representatives in the north, south, west, and east as well as in the Horn of Africa. This
strategy therefore is the origin of the hostilities towards Eritrea. One of the problems for this strategy was what happened in Ethiopia. A
regime came to power not only to change governance but to change history as well. Because this regime was by nature not legitimate to
dwell or rule Ethiopia, an alliance of convenience came into being. Every regime that came after the end of the Cold War had to endorse
the will of foreign powers and not its own political lines if it were to rule in Ethiopia. We all know this. And so, the alliance of
convenience came in handy to serve the strategy. While we know how the US adventurous policies in the past twenty years ended, the
strategies it drawn for our region and their implementation programs failed miserably. And the problem escalated with the precarious
situation of the existence of the regime in Ethiopia. The prime threat came from inside Ethiopia, which had to be supported by the
Eritrean situation; so you make them both clash and once Eritrea gets marginalized, the regime in Ethiopia would be pampered and cared
for in a way it would serve its master’s interests.
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Behind Isaias Afwerki’s Crocodile Tears About Human Trafficking
Awate Team February 8, 2013
Eritrea’s self-declared president sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to complain that Eritrea has been the “target of
malicious and concerted practices of human trafficking” for the “past ten years or so” and since Eritrea has “statutory obligations as well
as universal morale [sic] and humanitarian responsibilities” to put an end to it, he requests that the UN conduct “an independent and
transparent” investigation. Since Eritreans have been victimized by human traffickers for the “past ten years or so”, why is Isaias
Afwerki demanding an investigation now?
There is, from the standpoint of the UN, already “an independent and transparent” investigative body: it is called the Monitoring Group
on Somalia and Eritrea (UNSEMG). The results of its “independent and transparent” investigations were published in July 2011 and then
again in June 2012. Here are the relevant excerpts (paragraph 77 – 86) from the UNSEMG report* of June 27, 2012:
77. In its July 2011 report, the Monitoring Group described the involvement of senior members of the Eritrean security services, notably
General Teklai Kifle “Manjus”, in the trafficking of weapons and people from Eritrea into Egypt (the Sinai) via Sudan, en route to Israel.
The trafficking of arms and people is managed by the same networks using the same vehicles, and the same Eritrean officials are
78. The Monitoring Group has since learned that this activity exists on a much greater scale than previously believed. According to the
Population, Immigration and Border Authority of Israel 58,088 asylum seekers entered Israel through the Israel-Egypt border between
2006 and February 2012. Of these, 56.5 per cent (or 32,082) were from Eritrea. Statistics of the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate a much higher figure, with 59,969 Eritreans entering Israel via Egypt between 2009 and
79. The experiences of these asylum seekers are well documented. NGOs in Israel have recorded over 1,300 testimonies from African
asylum seekers, more than half of which are from Eritrea. Of these, 61 referred to Rashaida and Bedouin traffickers by name, often
describing the physical and psychological torture they inflicted on their captives.
80. Multiple independent sources in Israel and the Sinai have identified General Teklai Kifle Manjus, and Colonel Fitsum Yishak (see
S/2011/433, para. 262 (b)), as well as a string of intermediaries, as being directly responsible for the cross-border smuggling of humans
and weapons from Eritrea.
81. A sample of transcripts from interviews with Eritrean migrants is contained in annex 2.2.
82. Trafficking operations begin in western Eritrea, under the auspices of General Manjus. According to a former translator for a
smuggling network in the Sinai, weapons for export were organized in 2011 by two military officers under the command of Manjus
named Borhame [Berhane] and Yesef Hadegu [Yosief Hadgu]. The former translator stated as follows: “Manjus gets all the money. They
don’t get anything. They are in the military so they just do what they are told” (see annex 2.2.).
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Eritrea: Mining Investors Risk Use of Forced Labor
Posted on 18-01-2013
(Toronto) – International mining firms rushing to invest in Eritrea’s burgeoning minerals sector risk involvement in serious abuses unless
they take strong preventive measures. The failure of the Vancouver-based company Nevsun Resources to ensure that forced labor
would not be used during construction of its Eritrea mine, and its limited ability to deal with forced labor allegations when they arose,
highlight the risk.The 29-page report, “Hear No Evil: Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Eritrea’s Mining Sector,” describes
how mining companies working in Eritrea risk involvement with the government’s widespread exploitation of forced labor. It also
documents how Nevsun – the first company to develop an operational mine in Eritrea – initially failed to take those risks seriously, and
then struggled to address allegations of abuse connected to its operations. Although the company has subsequently improved its policies,
it still seems unable to investigate allegations of forced labor concerning a state-owned contractor it uses.
“If mining companies are going to work in Eritrea, they need to make absolutely sure that their operations don’t rely on forced labor,”
said Chris Albin-Lackey, business and human rights senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If they can’t prevent this, they shouldn’
t move forward at all.”
Eritrea is one of the world’s poorest and most repressive countries. In recent years the country’s largely untapped mineral wealth has
provided a badly needed boost to its economic prospects. The Bisha project, majority owned and operated by the small Canadian firm
Nevsun Resources, is Eritrea’s first and so far only operational mine. It began gold production in 2011 and produced some $614 million
worth of ore in its first year.
Other large projects led by Canadian, Australian, and Chinese firms are in the pipeline, however. Numerous exploration firms are
scouring other leases for new prospects.
Eritrea’s government maintains a “national service” program that conscripts Eritreans into prolonged and indefinite terms of forced labor,
generally under abusive conditions. It is through this forced labor program that mining companies run the most direct risk of
involvement in the Eritrean government’s human rights violations. Human Rights Watch has documented how national service conscripts
are regularly subjected to torture and other serious abuses, and how the government exacts revenge upon conscripts’ families if they
desert their posts. Many Eritreans have been forced to work as conscript laborers for over a decade.
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President since 8 June 1993
Current situation: Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and
commercial sexual exploitation; each year, large numbers of migrant workers depart Eritrea in search of work, particularly in the
Gulf States, where some likely become victims of forced labor, including in domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation;
thousands of Eritreans flee the country illegally, mostly to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya where their illegal status makes them
vulnerable to situations of human trafficking; the government remains complicit in conscripting children into military service
Tier rating: the Government of Eritrea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not
making significant efforts to do so; the Eritrean government does not operate with transparency and published neither data nor
statistics regarding its efforts to combat human trafficking; it did not respond to requests to provide information for this report; the
government made no known progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking crimes over the reporting period and did not appear
to provide any significant assistance to victims of trafficking during the reporting period (2009)
President since 8 June 1993