Eritrea must free political prisoners and low-risk offenders to reduce COVID-19 threat in crowded jails, says UN expert

Eritrea must free political prisoners and low-risk offenders to reduce COVID-19 threat in crowded jails, says UN expert   GENEVA (2 April 2020) – A UN rights expert has urged Eritrea to reduce the risk of COVID-19

Eritrea must free political prisoners and low-risk offenders to reduce COVID-19 threat in crowded jails, says UN expert

 

GENEVA (2 April 2020) – A UN rights expert has urged Eritrea to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in its overcrowded jails by immediately releasing all political prisoners, low-risk offenders and others such as the sick and elderly who are particularly vulnerable to illness or death.

 

Daniela Kravetz, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, highlighted the case of an American-Eritrean dual national and daughter of a former information minister being held for more than seven years since she was a teenager.

 

“This Friday, Ciham Ali Abdu is celebrating her 23rd birthday in an Eritrean prison. Ciham has been in incommunicado detention, without charge, since the age of 15. She was arrested in December 2012 as she tried to flee the country into Sudan, shortly after her father requested asylum in a third country. Since her arrest, her family has received no information about her whereabouts,” Kravetz said.

 

She said that repeated appeals for Ciham’s release had been ignored by the Eritrean authorities.

 

“I call on the Eritrean authorities to immediately and unconditionally release those detained without legal basis, including all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and to adopt urgent measures to reduce the number of people in detention to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the Special Rapporteur said.

 

“Eritrea has recently confirmed 18 cases of COVID-19 and has put in place measures to control the spread of the disease, including a 21-day lockdown, describing the situation as very grave. The pandemic could have devastating consequences for the prison population in Eritrea due to the fragile healthcare services, unhygienic conditions, and overcrowding,” Kravetz said.

 

“Over the years, many have died in Eritrean prisons due to malnutrition, lack of basic healthcare and ill-treatment. Essential medical care services are often unavailable for detainees.”

 

She said that some of the many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience being held in Eritrea had been behind bars for decades because of their political views or their faith. In 2019 alone, more than 200 individuals were imprisoned because of their faith.

 

“I also call upon the Eritrean authorities to respect the rule of law and protect human rights in the implementation of their measures to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19,” the UN Special Rapporteur said

 

ENDS

 

Ms. Daniela Kravetz (Chile) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea by the Human Rights Council in October 2018. She is an attorney with extensive experience in human rights, accountability, gender-based violence and access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings. Her experience covers countries in Latin America, Africa, and the former Yugoslavia.

 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

 

For more information and media requests, please contact Dieudonne Munyinga at: dmunyinga@ohchr.org.

 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Xabier Celaya at: xcelaya@ohchr.org

 

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts.

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3 COMMENTS
  • rezen April 2, 2020

    Subject: Eritrea must free political prisoners and low-risk offenders to reduce COVID-19 threat in crowded jails, says UN expert, APRIL 2, 2020, by Ms. Daniela Kravetz

    Commentary, 2 April 2020
    Thank you Ms. Daniela Kravetz (Chile) for the Article taking note that you are one of the:
    QUOTE: “Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. UNUOTE Admirable.

    Now, let me address MYSELF as a full fledged ERITREAN by any concept of measurement applicable to ALL Eritreans. NO Eritrean is less than any other ERITREAN, nor any Eritrean is superior or representative of Eritrea than the other Eritrean. That is obvious >>> but good deep feeling to say it.

    With the above declaration out of my chest, let me go to a cardinal question as a confession. What did I accomplish for ERITREA to extricate it from the yoke of ONE — and only ONE — DICTATOR, who is roasting the entire Eritrea in earthly hell? Answer: NOTHING, I must admit !!! I repeat,NOTHING.

    Being in tranquil living, in foreign country, enjoying the abundant benefit out of the civilized country, my
    attention to Eritrea does not go beyond reading about Eritrea in various news media etc. However, one thing which is credit to myself is that I NEVER insult anybody on the Internet nor on any media for that matter. From my own observation, I see {read] also about my Eritrean compatriots flooding away from ONE DICTATOR for survival, leaving the country to ONE DICTATOR >>> Issayas Afewerki Abraha Miratch of ANY TRIBE that one wishes to attach to his name. With that, I am coming to the end of my ‘haTew. QeTew, but, NOT without giving THANKS to http://www.assenna.com.

    Let History record, as a testimony, for the dedication of http://www.assenna.com — created and being administered by Amanuel Eyasu — to liberate Eritrea from the yoke of a dictator and restoring the space for ONE ERITREA free from all sorts of internal parochial divisions and separations, which seems to be the hallmarks of OUR Eritrean

    I STOP here, feeling that I may have gone over the limitation of Freedom of Expression. THE END

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