Ethiopia and Eritrea under United Nations review – By EthioGuardian
Human rights violations in Eritrea are causing great concern all over the world. While world leaders join together this week in Copenhagen for a fight against climate change, the topic in Geneva is of a different, yet even harmful kind. Last Monday, 30th of November 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed Eritrea’s human rights record. This Universal Periodic Review is a four-year recurrent process in which all 192 members of the United Nations participate, review and make recommendations on the member countries human rights record.
The three hour session in the Geneva-based Council was characterized by countless appeals to the Eritrean delegation to sign and adhere to the Convention against Torture and other international conventions. Besides credits given for Eritrea’s battle against Female Genital Mutilation, statements by participating members included numerous references to reports of widespread violations of freedom of expression, torture, cruel and degrading treatment by the police and military, and the situation of detained political prisoners and journalists.
Consequently denying human rights violations in Eritrea, the Eritrean delegation came up with excuses for every situation questioned by members, ranging from being a ‘developing country’ to ‘concerning sensitive national security issues’. On freedom of expression, the Head of the Eritrean delegation, Economic Advisor in the Ministry of National Development, Dr. Girmai Abraham, surprisingly admitted Eritrea’s bad reputation, saying “the experiences of Eritrea with free press are negative” and “measures needed to be taken”. Dr. Girmai Abraham was “overwhelmed by the number of questions” and had to postpone answering a number of them to a next session.
Before the Outcome of the Review (the final report) is adopted, within two weeks after the session, Eritrea can make editorial changes to their comments. The draft report is available here. It is mandatory to implement the recommendations that are given by the participating countries and outlined in the Outcome of the Review.
While the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, is making a paradoxical attempt to boost his international image in Copenhagen, his administration and his handling of human rights will be under review this week in Geneva. In the past years, many human rights organizations and groups have condemned Eritrea’s neighbor, the government of Ethiopia, for a crackdown on human rights. On the day of the review, Ethiopian Diaspora members from all over Europe will protest against the Ethiopian regime in front of the United Nations office in Geneva.