Persecution Watchdog Welcomes Renewal of Special Rapporteur


NEW MALDEN, UNITED KINGDOM (ANS) – A Christian group monitoring persecution around the world welcomes the resolution passed on July 11 at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for one year.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says the resolution was tabled by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

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According to CSW, the Special Rapporteur’s reports are a key tool for monitoring the human rights situation in the country.  However, Eritrea has refused to cooperate with successive mandate holders, and the country’s human rights situation has continued to deteriorate.

Speaking on behalf of the core group, The Netherlands described the resolution as a “technical roll over,” initiated once it became clear the mandate would end if the Council took no action, since original proposers Djibouti and Somalia were no longer in a position to take it forward, and in view of the lack of domestic and institutional reforms in Eritrea.

By placing the mandate under Agenda Item 2 of the Council’s agenda, the core group was recognising the positive momentum towards peace in the Horn of Africa, and expressing the hope that this would eventually translate into human rights improvements in Eritrea.

In response Eritrea reiterated its objection to the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, which it described as a “relic from a bygone era of confrontation in the Horn of Africa.”

Eritrea also called for separate votes on the removal of three operative paragraphs (OPs) referring to the mandate.  The first OP renews the special rapporteur’s mandate, ensuring the mandate holder gives an oral update during an interactive dialogue with the HRC during its 43rd session, and presents a report during an interactive dialogue with the General Assembly during its 75th session.

The second OP asks Eritrea to cooperate fully with the mandate holder, including by granting access to the country, and the third requests the UN Secretary General to provide the Special Rapporteur with everything needed to fulfil the mandate. Eritrea lost each votes by the same margin: 22 countries voted in favour of keeping the paragraphs, 13 voted for their removal, and 12 abstained.

The final vote on adopting the resolution in its entirety, which again was called for by Eritrea, also went against the government, with 21 countries voting in favour of the resolution, 13 voting against it, and 13 abstaining.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW welcomes the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea and expresses our gratitude to the UN member states that tabled and voted in favour of the resolution. The mandate holder plays an essential role in maintaining scrutiny on a government which is responsible for crimes against humanity and ongoing gross violations.

“We reaffirm our commitment to fully support the Special Rapporteur, and call on member states to assist the mandate holder wherever and whenever possible.  We also encourage the government of Eritrea to cooperate fully with the mandate holder in order to meet the modest benchmarks stipulated in her report, and to view its time on the Council as an opportunity to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms for its citizens”

CSW also said that due to a typographical error in the second paragraph, which should have referred to the 74th session of the General Assembly, and Eritrea’s subsequent refusal to allow this to be changed, the Special Rapporteur will not be presenting a report at the General Assembly this year.

Every HRC session contains ten agenda items, each pertaining to different human rights issues. Item 2 refers to the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. Eritrea was previously considered under Agenda Item 4, which refers to human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.

The author of this story, Michael Ireland, is a self-supported media missionary with ANS. Click here to support him as a missionary journalist.