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The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) is pleased by the release of the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COI). Established by the Human Rights Council Resolution 26/24 of 27th of June 2014, the Commission’s mandate was to conduct enquiry and come up with a report on human rights situation in Eritrea within a period of 12 months.

As expected the Commission’s report depicts in detail “the systematic and widespread human rights violation committed by the Eritrean government.” The report also states that “The enjoyment of rights and freedoms are severely curtailed in an overall context of a total lack of rule of law…widespread extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour that may constitute crimes against humanity” Moreover, the report asserts that Eritreans are “faced with a seemingly hopeless situation they feel powerless to change, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans are fleeing their country... In desperation, they resort to deadly escape routes through deserts and neighbouring war-torn countries and across dangerous seas in search of safety. They risk capture, torture and death at the hands of ruthless human traffickers… Eritreans are fleeing severe human rights violations in their country and are in need of international protection.”

The revelations contained in the reports are not new to Eritreans who experience the atrocities first hand. Nonetheless the report is the first of its kind as it was compiled by an internationally mandated body. The report strengthens what Eritreans and other human rights organizations have been reporting about. Given its past records, the regime in Eritrea wouldn’t spare any effort to rubbish the report and its authors as having ulterior agenda designed by Eritrea’s historical enemies. Neither will the regime in its own volition attempt to take measures to address human rights situation.

EMDHR is therefore calling upon the international community to seriously engage with the report and put in place appropriate measures to ensure that the Eritrean government implements that recommendations made by the COI. Failing to do so means allowing the situation to escalate to a situation with disastrous humanitarian and security consequences for the country and its people, but also for the Horn of Africa region and beyond.

EMDHR also calls upon neighbouring countries and the European Union to provide humanitarian support and protection to the Eritrean refugees.

Most importantly the EMDHR urges Eritreans to use this opportunity to mobilize and organize themselves to assume the fullest agency for democratic change in their country. The international community can only play supportive; the major task of effecting change in the country must remain and is in the hand of the Eritrean people.

Using this occasion, EMDHR would like to express its appreciation to the commission and its three members for carrying out their mandate with professional integrity.

11th June 2015

Pretoria, South Africa

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