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Eritrea’s Ministry of Information accuses the UN Commission of Inquiry of “overstepping its remit”

Eritrea’s Ministry of Information issued a press statement on Friday (May 6) claiming that the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea has “overstepped its remit.” The Commission was mandated to provide another report on Eritrea’s Human Rights last year, following its unequivocal conclusions that the Government of Eritrea was responsible for “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations;” and that these had created a climate of fear in which dissent was stifled, where a large proportion of the population was subject to forced labor and imprisonment, and hundreds of thousands of refugees had fled the country. Some of these violations, it added, may constitute “crimes against humanity”.

The Commission’s report provided a mass of detailed evidence of violations including the use of forced labor in the construction of the Bisha Mine, subject of a court case in Canada,  and reasons for the continued flight of the up to  5,000 people or so from Eritrea each month. The Commission of Inquiry is due to report to the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in the second half of June. The Ministry of Information says it has received reports that that the Commission of Inquiry intends to publicly release its forthcoming report in advance of submission to the Council. This, the Ministry says would be unlawful. It says it is intended to be part of a “vitriolic press campaign ” directed against Eritrea, as it claims happened  last year with the Commission’s first report.

The Ministry also describes the Commission of Inquiry as “essentially involved in a politically motivated witch-hunting campaign against Eritrea to literally regurgitate innuendos and unsubstantiated allegations that stem from certain quarter.” Eritrea similarly dismissed the Commission’s last report as offering no more than “outrageous claims,” “vile slanders,” and “wild accusations”.