“Systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea”, according to a recent UN investigation. The 484-page report, based on evidence collected from 700 testimonies, says “it is not law that rules Eritreans – but fear". 
Extrajudicial killings, torture (including sexual torture), open-ended national service and forced labour are some of the report’s findings, which also says the government’s promise of democracy that came with Eritrea’s independence in 1993 has been broken under the pretext of national defense. 
Eritrea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the accusations, describing them as “unfounded and devoid of all merit” and said the report is an attempt to undermine their country’s sovereignty and progress. 
This comes as the international community deals with a growing number of refugees taking desperate journeys to escape dire conditions at home. Many of them are Eritreans. The UN estimates that 5000 Eritreans leave the country each month.
So, beyond the accusations of the UN and the government’s dismissal, what are the realities about life in Eritrea and how the government rules?
Join our conversation at 1930GMT. 
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Sheila Keetharuth @UNrightswire
Commissioner on the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea
Filmon Zerai @eritreastruggle
Advocate, blogger
Saleh Johar @salehjohar
Activist, writer
Rahel Weldeab @RahelWeldeab
Former Head of Foreign Affairs, National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students