ERITREA: No improvement in Human Rights

A new report on Eritrea was submitted at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva by Special Rapporteur Sheila B. Keetharuth. The report acted as a follow-up on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, which was extended last June.

In her report, Special Rapporteur Keetharuth notes that “the Government of Eritrea has not made any effort to address the human rights concerns highlighted by the Commission of Inquiry and that it has shown no willingness to tackle impunity with regard to perpetrators of past and ongoing violations.”

The submission of the report came just weeks after World Watch Monitor had first reported the arrest of 90 Christians on May 26. An additional 17 Christian men were arrested on May 28, while 5 more were taken from their homes on June 6, bringing the number of Christians arrested since the beginning of May to over 120.

Christians are particularly vulnerable to arrest around Eritrea’s Independence Day, which is on May 24, because they refuse to participate in activities that are contrary to their beliefs. Christian Solidarity Worldwide has reported that at least 28 Christians have died from incarcerations in Eritrea.

Although Christianity is technically not prohibited in Eritrea, the government only allows three denominations: the Roman Catholic Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church of Eritrea. However, the churches are heavily influenced by the government, often having leaders appointed by the State and messages that have been pre-approved to fit the government’s agenda. Individuals of other Christian denominations are prohibited from practicing their beliefs.

Despite efforts by the United Nations to urge the government of Eritrea to improve their human rights, there have not been any positive developments. Approximately 5,000 Eritreans flee the small country as refugees every month.

Please continue to pray for the human rights conditions in Eritrea to improve, and for the Christians to be strengthened in the Lord.