UN Accuses Eritrea Leaders of Crimes Against Humanity


The United Nations has accused Eritrea’s government of committing crimes against humanity for the last 25 years.

A UN investigation cites a wide range of human rights violations against the general public dating back to 1991, when the country gained independence from Ethiopia. Since then, more than 400,000 people have been “enslaved” in the country, the UN said on Wednesday.


Human rights violations in Eritrea

The crimes Eritrea’s government has been accused of include extrajudicial killings, imprisonment, rape and murder, according to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights.

Meanwhile, the forced labour of military conscripts is another major concern in the country.

“We think that there are 300,000 to 400,000 people who have been enslaved,” UN investigator Mike Smith told the press on Wednesday. Forced conscriptions can last decades in the East African nation.

“Very few Eritreans are ever released from their military service obligations,” he added.

It’s estimated around 5,000 Eritreans attempt to flee the country every month, despite there being a shoot-to-kill policy for anyone caught trying to escape. It works for many, though: Eritrea is a major source of refugees entering southern Europe. The EU recently spoke of proposals to assist the Somali and Eritrean governments in stabilising their countries in order to stem the flow of migrants into Europe.


Eritrea reacts to accusations

The Eritrean government hasn’t exactly welcomed the accusations made against it by the UN. It quickly denounced the reports as “an unwarranted attack not only against Eritrea, but also Africa and developing nations” – criticising both its findings and the conduct of the investigation.

“From the very get-go, they have shown that they lack independence, impartiality and objectivity,” presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab told reporters in Geneva of the UN’s investigation body.

The UN has called on the international community to hold the Eritrean government accountable for the accusations against it. This includes a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC), however, this process will take some time.


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By Wilfried Huss / Anonymous – Flag of the United Nations from the Open Clip Art website. Modifications by Denelson83, Zscout370 and Madden. Official construction sheet here.United Nations (1962) The United Nations flag code and regulations, as amended November 11, 1952, New York OCLC: 7548838., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=437460