Eritrea Rejects Special Rapporteur’s Claims, Sends Official Protest to OHCHR

Eritrea protest to OHCHR

Eritrea rejects Special Rapporteur’s claims, sends official protest to OHCHR

capitaleritrea news, April 13, 2014

The Permanent Mission of the State of Eritrea in Geneva released a statement on Friday rejecting claims by the United Nations Special Rapporteur (Sheila B. Keetharuth) that Eritrean national service is violating human rights.

The Mission released the statement saying that Ms Keetharuth is engaged in a campaign to influence public opinion against Eritrea ignoring Eritrea’s right of self-defense considering Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory. Ms Keetharuth collected information during interviews with Eritrean refugees and migrants, which prove that National Service dominates life in Eritrea, according to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur.

In her report Eritrea: UN expert warns about persisting human rights violations linked to the national service she concluded that the main reasons why Eritreans flee their country is linked to the indefinite national service and the constant fear of being targeted. She also said that the main motivating factors for the youth to flee Eritrea are the lack of freedom to decide their own fate after military service, the fear of being targeted, the planned assignment to civil administration and other sectors after service and the low salary.

The statement by the Eritrean mission said that the Special Rapporteur made no effort to asses the situation objectively and that she showed prejudice being occupied with previously established stances and judgments, which she gained while working for other international institutions such as Amnesty International.

“It is very sad that in the context she continues to defame and try to tarnish the image of the Eritrean National Service program for other political drives and sinister motives unrelated to any human right issue. To say the least, the Special Rapporteur is working in close connection with the Government of Ethiopia as the press release came parallel with the campaign of the Government of Ethiopia to put Eritrea under sanctions as evidenced in the recently leaked document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. The selective and biased collection of information from only anti Eritrea is the result of such orientation”, the statement read.

According to the Eritrean mission in Geneva, Ms Keetharuth refused to meet Eritrean community representatives in Geneva and other Eritrean organizations prior to the release of her report and therefore would lack credibility, professionalism, neutrality and shows  bias.

The mission also said, that it has sent an official protest to the OHCHR and the HRC to reject the Special Rapporteur’s claims and the resulting mandate which would not help to protect or promote Human Rights in Eritrea.