ERITREA participated at the 24th Session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice that was held on 18 – 22 May 2015 in Vienna, Austria.
In its annual Session, the Commission discussed on various global challenges from transnational organized crimes, including trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, corruption, drug trafficking, etc.
Following deliberation, members of the Commission adopted nine resolutions aimed at enhancing international cooperation in the prevention and combating of transnational organized crimes.
During the meeting Eritrea shared its experiences and views on preventing combating human trafficking and smuggling as well as efforts made by the government to strengthen the criminal justice system.
Eritrea was elected by the UN Economic and Social Council in April 2014 to serve as the member of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for the year 2015-17.
Mr. Nebil Said, First Secretary at the Eritrean Permanent Mission to the United Nations represent Eritrea at the session. His full statement on agenda Item 4 was as follows:
Item 4: Thematic discussion on the follow-up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Let me at the outset congratulate you and the other members of the bureau on your respective elections and assure you of Eritrea’s support as you steer this session of the CCPCJ to a fruitful conclusion.
I would like also to thank the Executive-Director, Mr. Yuri Fedotov, for his briefing. Eritrea values the work of the UNODC.
Eritrea welcomes the Doha Declaration and would also like to thank the State of Qatar for an excellent organization of the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
My delegation fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by Chile and Namibia on behalf of the G77 and China and African Group respectively.
Migration and movement of people from one place to another place internally and externally is a historical and global phenomenon. But what we are discussing today is the issue of illegal migration and the criminal activities perpetuated by the human traffickers and how to tackle these problems in a sustainable and collective way.
Eritreans are not spared from these criminal individuals and groups. Many Eritreans have been lured or forced into the hands by human smugglers and traffickers and are exposed to the agony of death and misery. Combating and eradicating these heinous crimes has become one of Eritrea’s major priorities.
- In February 2013, recognizing the danger of human trafficking and smuggling H.E. Isaias Afwerki, President of the State of Eritrea formally requested the UN Secretary General H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon to launch an independent and transparent investigation on these abominable affairs and bring justice to its victims.
- In September 2014, Eritrea acceded to United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
- The government has also taken several steps to combat and mitigate the effects of these crimes. It has:
- Established legal, institutional, and administrative frameworks to prevent human trafficking and smuggling as well as to protect the victims and prosecute the criminals;
- Intensified public awareness campaigns on the nature and manifestations of these crimes through mass media and community based meetings;
- Provided protection and assistance to victims both inside and outside the country including repatriation and reintegration of those willing to return;
- Dismantled criminal networks and taking punitive actions against persons involved in human trafficking and smuggling;
- Implemented various projects aimed at creating economic and educational opportunities for the youth;
- Embarked on close and mutually beneficial, partnerships with regional organizations and countries to address the problems of irregular migration and the crime of human trafficking through the AU-led Initiative and the Khartoum Process;
In conclusion, let me reiterate that Eritrea is determined to work with all its partners to combat and eradicate all forms on transnational crimes, especially, human trafficking and smuggling and to address the root causes of the problem.
The following principles can be taken by all of us as a guiding framework in combating human trafficking:
- Robust cooperation amongst countries of origin, transit and destination must be established and strengthened.
- Economic and educational opportunities for the youth must be improved and guaranteed.
- Migration and granting refugees status policies of destination countries must be reviewed and corrected. In the case of Eritrea, selectivity and politicization of the problem must stop. Prima-facie categorization is not only wrong but has opened an opportunity to the human traffickers to target and lure the Eritrean youth. This categorization has also created a loophole for non Eritreans to claim Eritrean origin so that they are automatically granted a refugee status. Some European countries have sent fact finding missions to Eritrea and have rectified their approach and mistake.
We encouraged other countries to do the same.
- Human and institutional capacities of the government institutions and communities must be enhanced.
- The rights of all migrants must be protected, including their right to education, skills training, employment as well as their right to maintain their links to and visit their home country.
I thank you Mr. Chair.
– – – – –
Regarding the Rule of Law and strengthening of criminal justice in Eritrea, Mr. Nebil made the following remarks:
I would like to recognize the skillful manner in which you are steering the work of the CCPCJ.
The people of Eritrea, who fought thirty-years of war for justice and self-determination, are this week celebrating their 24th anniversary of independence. Since its independence the Eritrean government has diligently been working to put in place proper legal instruments and institutions to strengthen criminal justice system, including:
- Increasing people’s access to the national justice system In 2003, the Eritrean government enacted a proclamation to establish ‘community courts’ to:
(a) enable greater participation of communities in the judicial process, make judicial process accessible to the larger communities particular to the poor, and allow communities to elect judges, one of whom must be a women;
(b) integrate the customary dispute resolution mechanisms in the national legal system; and
(c) alleviate the burden from the higher courts. Today, hundreds of community courts are giving services.
- Reforming of the legal systemLast week, Eritrea launched new Penal and Civil Codes and their related procedures. The drafting and the deliberation process of these Codes took more than eight years of public consultations; examination of more than 80,000 customary laws from all over the country was part of the exercise. International and universal human rights issues were also taken into consideration. To ensure wider understanding of these laws by all sectors of the society today extensive and concerted sensitization campaign has been launched to civil society. These timely legal documents are already translated into Tigrinya, Arabic and English.
- Building human and institutional capacityThe Ministry of Justice and law enforcement and implementing bodies in cooperation with international partners are fully engaged in enhancing the institutional and human capacity of the judiciary organs as well as police and other law enforcement agencies.
While hailing the achievements in the areas of strengthening the criminal justice system, The Eritrean government is mindful that penal codes and procedures and rule of law are evolutionary processes that require sustained involvement of every sector of society and stakeholder.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.