We need to send Eritrea to the International Criminal Court

By Joseph K. Grieboski, contributor As one of the world's most oppressive regimes, the Eritrean government has committed extensive crimes against humanity over the past 25 years, according to a report released June 8 by the

By Joseph K. Grieboski, contributor

As one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, the Eritrean government has committed extensive crimes against humanity over the past 25 years, according to a report released June 8 by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea. President Isaias Afwerki, in power since Eritrea’s independence in 1991 following the 30-year war with Ethiopia, has led an increasingly repressive authoritarian regime. The U.N. commission found that enslavement, enforced disappearance, rape, murder, torture and religious persecution are systematically used to instill fear in Eritreans and maintain the regime’s power. These blatant violations of international law clearly constitute crimes against humanity as widespread, systematic attacks against the civilian population.

The Eritrean leadership’s brutality is particularly evident in its enslavement of up to 400,000 people, primarily through military conscription. Eritrea’s system of open-ended service forces conscripts to serve indefinitely, often for decades at a time. This deprivation of liberty amounts to modern-day slavery and allows for inhumane treatment, which Eritrea currently has no legal mechanisms to redress. In military camps, conscripts are frequently subjected to torture, sexual and gender-based violence, forced labor and domestic servitude. Recent developments could further exacerbate their situation. On June 21, Eritrea accused Ethiopia of contemplating full-scale war, strengthening the Eritrean regime’s justification for compulsory military service as a necessary response to perceived Ethiopian aggression.

Based on the testimony of 833 Eritreans in exile, the U.N. commission also found that mass detainment and enforced disappearance are wielded as tools of control over the population, often in an arbitrary manner that flouts international law. In 2015, thousands of Eritrean prisoners of conscience, including politicians, journalists and practitioners of unauthorized religions,continued to be imprisoned without charge or trial. In a testimony to the commission, a former detainee detailed the horror of incarceration in Eritrea: “There is a saying in prison: If you scream, only the sea will hear you.” The report did not specify individuals responsible for ongoing crimes, but indicated that they operate within the military, National Security Office, ruling party and the highest echelons of government.

In light of these appalling human rights abuses, referring Eritrea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is crucial given the country’s virtually nonexistent rule of law. The nation has no functioning judiciary, national assembly or civil society; opposition to the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice Party is prohibited; and the Constitution of 1997, which established democratic institutions, has never been enforced. The vacuum created by this lack of a coherent legal foundation generates a climate of impunity for human rights abuses, one incapable of protecting citizens and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Eritrea’s human rights record is not merely a domestic issue. The regime’s continued disrespect for human life poses an imminent threat to international peace and security through its role in the ongoing refugee crisis. The horrifying violence countless Eritreans face on a daily basis is a powerful force driving close to 5,000 citizens to flee the nation each month, contributing to a global humanitarian emergency. In 2015, Eritreans comprised the third-largest nationality after Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans undertaking the dangerous journey in search of asylum and safety. The weight of the ICC’s authority is urgently needed to ensure the protection of the Eritrean people and to stem this alarming flow of refugees.

As Eritrea is not a state party to the ICC, the tribunal can only exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed in Eritrea if the nation ratifies the Rome Statute, or if the U.N. Security Council refers the situation to the court. The Security Council must treat Eritrea’s serious human rights abuses as the atrocities they are by referring the country to the ICC. In doing so, it can ensure those responsible for these crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent.

International mechanisms set in place by the Security Council and the ICC can play a pivotal role in ensuring the victims of the Eritrean government’s heinous abuses have their voices heard. No population should be forced to live in an atmosphere of fear while its oppressors are given broad latitude in their actions without facing consequences. Eritrea’s human rights abuses are still occurring today, and they must not slip through the cracks of global attention when they should be instead condemned and prosecuted for what they are: deliberate, systematic violations of fundamental humanity.

Grieboski is the chairman and CEO of Grieboski Global Strategies, founder and chairman of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, and founder and secretary-general of the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom.


Review overview
  • dawit Canada June 30, 2016

    The wife in the TV commercial says to her husband “You disgust me”,
    Dressed in a funny way the husband, while chewing food replies to her “Prove it”.
    Similarly, prove it to us that this time around you are going to send Esayas and his gangsters to the ICC not on a picnic day but to punish them severely. Otherwise, we’ve heard it all and you are just playing with our emotions and injuries.

  • Qancha June 30, 2016

    Mr Joseph K. Grieboski, rightly, said
    “We need to send Eritrea to the International Criminal Court”

    I agree 100% and more. This is a nation that is making its own citizens slaves at home and Abeeds in the Arab world.
    The greatest contribution of Eritrea in the 21 Century is a system called Slavery or Abeedism.
    Eritrea is a shame not only to Africa but also to humanity

    • dawit Canada July 1, 2016

      Well said but as K.Tewolde correctly stated it is not Eritrea that would be referred to the ICC but the brutes, corrupt and criminal Isaias and his mafia HEGDEF regime.
      Dictators are not created in empty space and Eritrean dictators were born and raised/flourished in evil meda Eritrea. What breeds dictatorship is above all the disgraceful silence of complacency. It is those who looked other way because they didn’t want to see, those who didn’t see although they could see, those who are neither deaf nor mute but refuse to hear to the cries of suffering compatriots and refuse to speak on behalf of the persecuted.

  • Berhe Tensea July 1, 2016

    Put the world’s worst criminal in jail where he belongs..

  • k.tewolde July 1, 2016

    Please ,I urge the statement to be rewarded properly,because HGDEF exploits it routinely.It is not Eritrea that is been referred to ICC,they are the goons at the helm that put the nation and its proud people through misery of an epic proportion.Remember the argument about targeted sanctions against the goons not the the country and its people.Lets not give HGDEF inadvertent hand. HEGDEF’S NUCLEUS AND IT’S CAPO TO ICC.

  • eritrea for eritreans only July 1, 2016

    ;In light of these appalling human rights abuses, referring Eritrea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is crucial given the country’s virtually nonexistent rule of law. :

    The above are the words of UN security council. what do we learn from their own statement ? This is 1950s repeatition, it is not individuals that are being reffered to icc ,when it came to sudan it was not sudan ,serbia nazi germany..it was not the countries that were reffered to ICC ,but the leadership and close collaboraters..But as it has been planned for long ,it is aimed against Eritrea,and now Ethiopia is non binding member of un security council the deliberate disintegration of our country begins. Are we so blinded by the hate of higdef that we are willing to flush our country down the toilet. Are we like the bull (ox) that sees the mirage of the green grass but fails to see the cliff.I could care less if the higdef goes to hell ,but at the expense of Eritrea. please let us remmember our tegadelti slept on rocks suffering from leeches and ticks ,are we ready to betray the plea of our martyrs and throw our country to the abyss or abyssinia.
    We need to say no to iCC. Yes to Eritrea, Are we ready to fall to UN’s trap again.

    glory to our martyrs
    no to ICC
    no to higdef but we decide to decide our future ,not ethiopia and un.

    • Haile July 1, 2016

      First and foremost if you want to be taken seriously then for once and for all stick to one pen-name and not so many deceiving ones like Khaled, Khalid, meg, Mokie, Nsane, ertra n ertrawiyan, Hagherawi, Wedi Hagher and your latest one eritrea for eritreans only, crap!!!!!!!
      Your main problem is your delusional and over-inflated ego that brought poor Eritrea to its present predicament, and has made you blind to the present Eritrean awful reality.
      Simply, stop being the devil’s criminal gedli and so-called tegadelti’s advocate to cover up the crimes of your criminal ELF’s and EPLFs. Your evil gedli and tegadelti simply brought all the killings from meda to Asmara so it is just continuation of your past evil habits that is making life a living hell for genuine Eritreans in today’s Eritrea/
      What is your problem with Ethiopia being elected as a non-permanent member of the United Security Council for the next two years? Your favourite Muslim country Egypt is currently a non-permanent member of the United Security Council but soon to be kicked out and that’s way you are so depressed otherwise to us black Africans with Eritrea included is a wonderful news. Ethiopia will represent the continent of Africa for the next two yrs in the Security Council and that’s all but as usual you are twisting things and trying to confuse people. Get real for a change and also get your facts and priority right. Leave Eritrean issues to real Eritreans.

      • GOODBYE eritrea July 2, 2016

        Dearest Haile ,

        Wedi hager has extreme hatred because of past history that happened during Hatsei Youhas era in Tigray..We need to forgive and forget.This is 21st century.

  • eritrea for eritreans only July 1, 2016

    ነቶም እንግሊሽ ዝጽግመኩም ደቂ ሃገር

    ናይ ሕቡራት መንግስታት ጸጥታዊ ባይቶ ኣብ ክንዲ ነቲ መሪሕነትን ናይ ቀረባ መቃላጠፍቱን ንኤርትራ እዮም ናብ ፍርዲ ከቕርብዋ።መራሕቲ ሱዳን ሰርብያ ናዚ ጀርመንን ነተን ሃገራት ዘይኮኑ ናብ ፍርዲ ኣቕሪቦመን ነቶም መራሕትን ተሓባበርቶምን እዩ ንዓና ግን ብሜላ ንኢትዮጵያ ኣባል ዘይቀዋሚ ኣባል ጸጥታ ብምግባር ኤርትራና ክፈናጥሑ ካብ ዝኣለምዎ ሱሳ ዓመቱ ዝቐረበ ውዲት ነታ ሃገር ንምፍንጣሕ እዩ።ወርቁን ፖታሽን ናይ ህግደፍ እናበልዑ ንህ ግደፍ ፈልዮም ኣብ ፍርዲ ኣየቕርብዎን እዮም ፣ከምታ ናይ መንግስቱ መጽለሊ ሃገር ክህብዎ እዮም።ትፋናጨልን ዝገደደ ውግእ ሓድሕድ ተዳልዩላ ዘሎ ሃገርና ኤርትራ እያ።ብዕራይ ነቲ ልሙዕ ሳዕርስ ርኢኻዮ ነቲ ጸድፊ ግን ዘይርኣኻዮ ከም ዝብሃል ዕዙዝ ጽል ኢህግደፍ ሃገርና ንከነፍርስ ተሓባበርቲ ክንከውን ዲና፣ህግደፍ ገደል ገዲፉ ግሃነብ እሳት እንተኣተወ ይሕጎስ እምበር ኣይጉህን።እዚ ግን መፈንጠራ እዩ።ግደፉ ንሳላሳ ዓመት ቁንጭን ቁማልን ዝተበላዕናላ ሃገርና ኣብ ሽቓቕ ክትፍለሽ ከላ ሕራይ ኣይንበል።እወ ህግደፍ ካብ ግዝ ኣት ኣምሓራ ዝገደደ ጨቍኑና እዩ።ጨካን ጸላኢና እዩ ግን ነቲ ሕጻን (ኤርትራ)ምስቲ ረሳሕ ሕጻቡ (ህግደፍ) ምድርባዩ፣ደርሆ ተዓዊትና ብዕራይ ከም ዘጥፋእና እዩ።ደቂ ሃገር ኤርትራና ትጠፍእ ኣላ ሕድሪ ስዉኣትና ኣለና።

    ዓወት ንስዉኣትና
    ሕቡራት መንግስታት መሊሱ ኣይቁርነናን እዩ።
    ኤርትራውያን ባዕልና መጻኢና ንውስን


    Fellow baHre negash (Eritreans

    If you listen to the Somalian UN repressentative in the case of Eritrea, little, as young as 5 year old children being raped ) should make every Eritrean with conscience (may not be more than 50), ,how does this not make us sick and remmember these children are not sexually abused by Isaias or his ministers ,we all know who brought these pedophile culture ,in any case the rest 49 Eritreans with conscience ,I want you to be sad with me and shout as much as you can.

  • Desalegn July 1, 2016

    I strongly believe that the HGDEF regime in Erirea commutted crime against humanity. I SUPPORT FOR DECISION of the COI 100% +++

  • Desalegn July 1, 2016


    I suggest to removee this topic as soon as posible. Because it is not important at all. Why ….

  • Desalegn July 1, 2016


    I suggest to removee this topic as soon as posible. Because it is not important at all. Why ….