Earlier this month, Eritrea was accused of crimes against humanity by a UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) tasked with investigating allegations against the government. Unlike its first report last year, Council members approached the commission’s latest findings with caution as some of its recommendations have the potential to destabilize the country or even prolong repression, an issue that it was set up to prevent in the first place.
Eritrea challenged the commission’s findings as “legally indefensible” as the commission has failed to prove the “crimes” it alleges committed were indeed “persistent, widespread and systematic”. This means that the commission’s preposterous charge of “crimes against humanity” are untenable and are no more than a political accusation.
Besides, Eritrea successfully presented facts and figures to reveal the fundamentally flawed methods the Commission employed in compiling its research, a method that suffered with selection bias with no rigor and balance.
To undercut the destructive and condemnatory recommendations including a potential referral to the ICC, Eritrea tabled its own draft resolution, reflecting primarily its commitments and proactive stance to consolidate human rights.
In light of the unfairness of the accusations leveled against Eritrea and the gravity of its ramifications, Eritrea urged all member states to support the resolution with a fair, just, constructive and collaborative approach. Many countries have already responded to the call positively and the council is expected to come up with a hybrid resolution by the end of this month.
>> ALSO READ : Eritrea’s Preliminary Response to the COI Report
To the complete dismay of the commission, the Council is expected to drop the option to refer Eritrea to the ICC as it is untenable under the current circumstance. Therefore, that specific recommendation will not be included in the final resolution.
Draft Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Eritrea
The Human Rights Council,
PP 1. Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments on human rights,
PP 2. Reaffirming that all States have an obligation to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments on human rights to which they are party,
PP 3. Reaffirming further that it is the primary responsibility of states to conduct investigations into allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and to bring those responsible to justice,
PP 4. Recalling General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 and its annexes 5/1 and 5/2, which inter alia: stressed the importance of ensuring universality, objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues, and the elimination of double standards and politicization; and recognized that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all human beings;
PP 5. Emphasizing the primacy of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process for the promotion and protection of human rights,
PP 6. Welcoming Eritrea’s accession to most international and regional human rights instruments including its recent signing and accession to the Convention against Torture, Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and its continued engagement and submission of periodic reports to the respective treaty bodies,
PP 7. Noting the publishing of new Civil and Penal Codes and their procedures and the holding of awareness campaigns for the public, government officials and law enforcement agencies on the provisions of the new codes,
PP 8. Noting also the steps taken by Eritrea in creating inter-sectoral coordinating mechanisms on implementing its commitment under UPR, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Labour Conventions, as well as the rights of persons with disabilities and addressing the challenges of irregular migration,
PP 9. Noting with appreciation Eritrea’s active engagement in the UPR process as well as the recently signed agreement with the United Nations in support of implementing the UPR recommendations and the mainstreaming of human rights in Eritrea,
PP 10. Welcoming the engagement of Eritrea with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in areas of strengthening the judicial system, addressing the needs of persons with disabilities and enhancing access to clean water and sanitation,
PP 11. Welcoming also Eritrea‘s invitation to UN thematic mandate holders and treaty bodies to visit Eritrea,
PP 12. Noting the formal request for support by the Government of Eritrea to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to strengthen the criminal justice system, including improvement of the penitentiary system,
PP 13. Recognizing the efforts of the Government in providing affordable and quality health services and free education for its citizenry at all levels, and in particular its achievements in the Millennium Development Goals,
PP 14. Noting the launch by Eritrea of the African Union Campaign on Ending Child Marriage in Africa,
PP 15. Encouraging the active role of the Government of Eritrea to combat irregular migration as well as human trafficking and smuggling in persons, including in the framework of the African Union-Horn of Africa Initiative, the EU-led Khartoum Process and the Valletta Plan of Action,
PP 16. Recognizing the need to promote peace and security among countries in order to ensure sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
PP 17. Concerned by the content and recommendations contained in the second report of the UN commission of inquiry on Eritrea (A/HRC/32/47),
OP 1. Rejects the report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea;
OP 2. Notes the response of the Government of Eritrea to the report of the Commission of Inquiry;
OP 3. Recognizes Eritrea’s development achievements as well as its increasing regional and international engagement, in particular its constructive engagement on human rights;
OP 4. Calls on Eritrea to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in line with its international obligations and commitments;
OP 5. Further calls on Eritrea to continue its cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant bodies, including thematic mandate holders and treaty bodies;
OP 6. Urges Eritrea to expedite the implementation of the recommendations it accepted during its second universal periodic review, to submit mid-term report and to enhance cooperation with the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review working group during its third cycle;
OP 7. Urges further the Government of Eritrea to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and abuse and to bring those responsible to justice;
OP 8. Calls upon the Government of Eritrea to ensure compliance with the Penal, Civil, Criminal Procedure and Civil Procedure Codes of May 2015 and ensure they are consistent with international human rights standards with a view to strengthening the administration of justice and the rule of law;
OP 9. Acknowledges Eritrea’s initiative to draft a new constitution and urges it to ensure transparency and wide participation in the process as well as conformity to universal human rights standards and the conventions to which Eritrea is a party;
OP 10. Calls on the Government of Eritrea to build upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and to embark into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
OP 11. Commends Eritrea for its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of women’s rights and encourages it to take additional measures to promote economic and social empowerment as well as to combat harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation;
OP 12. Calls on Eritrea to continue its efforts to combat irregular migration and human trafficking, including through the regional and international initiatives;
OP 13. Requests the High Commissioner to expand and consolidate the ongoing engagement with Eritrea and initiate the implementation of technical support to strengthen national institutions, including civil society organizations;
OP 14. Requests all member states to support the Cooperation Agreement of May 2016 between Eritrea and the United Nations to mainstream human rights, focused on the development and promotion of social equality, social services for an adequate standard of life, liberties, administration of justice, constitution, and international cooperation;
OP 15. Decides to support Eritrea to consolidate human rights through the UPR process, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, thematic-mandate holders and treaty bodies.