HRW urges AU against endorsing Eritrea for UN rights body


Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the African Union (AU) to not endorse Eritrea’s bid for re-election at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Horn of Africa nation announced this week that it is running for re-election on the council, sparking condemnation from rights groups over ongoing human rights violations in the country. HRW is among the organisations reminding international parties of Eritrea’s “dismal rights record,” suggesting the African Union should publicly refuse to back its re-election bid.

HRW calls for AU stance against Eritrea

Typically, the African Union endorses candidates from member nations seeking election at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) but Human Rights Watch argues that this “carries a responsibility” to endorse credible candidates that uphold the expected standards of human rights set out by the council – something it argues Eritrea “clearly fails to meet”.

“Eritrea’s government continues to severely restrict its population’s fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement on Friday. “It refuses to reform its uniquely abusive indefinite national service system. In September 2020, the government ignored its own stringent Covid-19 restrictions and sent thousands of pupils to the infamous Sawa military camp, where secondary school students must complete their schooling while undergoing military training.”

The rights group documents ongoing human rights violations against Eritreans and “mounting evidence” of atrocities committed by its armed forces in neighbouring Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict.

“States should stop allowing Eritrea to whitewash its own record of abuse and ignore basic Human Rights Council membership requirements. And this should start with the African Union refusing to back Eritrea’s reelection bid.”

Featured image: HRW

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.


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