BY RADIO SWEDEN
Based on requests made by the Swedish government, the European Parliament on Thursday voted through a resolution calling for the immediate release of Dawit Isaak, the Swedish journalist who has been imprisoned without trial in Eritrea for more than 15 years.
Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland hopes that the new resolution of the European Parliament will help keep up the pressure on Eritrea for the journalist’s release.
“We are going to push for an immediate release and to strengthen the relations with civil society groups in Eritrea in order to resolve the situation,” Guteland told the Expressen newspaper.
“We are happy that the parliament has chosen to highlight the issue surrounding Dawit Isaak. In our political group, this has been extremely important and the Swedish MEPS have been particularly involved in driving this issue forward.”
Isaak became a Swedish citizen in 1992, but returned to his Eritrean birthplace after the country gained independence the following year, working for and becoming a part-owner of the country’s first independent newspaper.
On 23 September 2001, he was arrested at his house in the captial Asmara, since when he has been released for only two days, when he was allowed out to see a doctor in 2005.
Some fear that he may have since died in prison.
Isaak’s long imprisonment is a cause célèbre in Sweden, with the Eritrean Embassy in Stockholm receiving weekly petitions for his release.
Eritrea: End Arbitrary Detention and Gross Human Rights Violations
MEPs call for the immediate release of Dawit Isaak, journalist and laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2017, who was arrested in Eritrea in 2001 and last heard from in 2005.
They demand that the Eritrean government should end the practice of arbitrary detention and release all prisoners of conscience, including Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, who is imprisoned since 2007.
In a resolution, Parliament condemns “in the strongest terms Eritrea’s systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations”, the ban of independent media, harsh detention conditions amounting to torture, persecution on the basis of religion, forced labour in the national service on a mass scale, and sexual abuse of women conscripts, and reminds the Eritrean Government that “many of its activities constitute crimes against humanity”.
MEPs further denounce the resumption of major EU aid to Eritrea.
They call upon the EU Commission to “carefully consider” Parliament’s concerns and to “ensure that the funding is strictly assigned to meeting the needs of the Eritrean people for development, democracy, human rights, good governance and security”.