Eritrea has had no independent civil society or media to speak of since 2001 when the authorities responded to calls for transparency and democratic change by clamping down on reformist members of the ruling party, members of the country’s nascent civil society and on the few private media houses.
The resulting absence of human rights reporting and critical voices has allowed the dire human rights situation in a country where freedom of speech and press are inexistent; freedom of association regularly and violently clampdown on and freedoms of movement, religion and opinion harshly restricted to deteriorate further without significant international condemnation.
The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), along with Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRC-Eritrea), and Human Rights Watch (HRW) will mark the anniversary of the 2001 clampdown by organising a roundtable on Eritrea to speak out against the on-going human rights crisis in the country and to highlight the need for the EU, as one of the main donors, to place human rights at the top of its agenda in Eritrea.
The roundtable will offer an overview of the human rights situation in Eritrea, with a focus on the situation of human rights defenders and the risks facing Eritreans asylum seekers that are returned to their country. It will also seek to offer clear and concrete recommendations to both the EU and other stakeholders aimed at ensuring that further support and engagement in Eritrean is made conditional on a significant improvement in the human rights situation.
Panellists will be Elisabeth Chyrum- Executive Director of HRC-Eritrea, Hassan Shire Sheikh- Executive Director of EHAHRDP and Leslie Lefkow- Researcher on the Horn of Africa at HRW.
The event will be held tomorrow, Thursday 10th September from 14h-16h at the Human Rights Watch office , Ave des Gaulois 7, Brussels 1040 (Metro Merode).