The following is Dr. Daniel Rezene’s email to Reporter Michael Abraha commenting on the question of UN evidence against the Eritrean government over its involvement in the Somali conflict.
“I have read your latest interviews with Miklias Yohannes (journalist) and Simon W/haimanot (lawyer) and others; job well done for your continued effort in exposing the cunning behavior of the PFDJ regime and its senseless supporters.
I have one observation, though, with regard to one of your questions, which says: “Why the UN has not made public the evidence used to justify the sanctions?”
I believe the formulation of the question is not correct, because it presumes no evidence has been made public by the UN. The question to be asked is whether the evidence passes a certain standard of proof or not – and it should not be whether the evidence has been made public. It is already made public. There is in fact a bulk of evidence made public by the UN and I would like to explain this as follows. And by the way, what has been made public thus far is more than enough to implicate the regime in the violations of the Somalia arms embargo and hence the sanctions are based on sufficient evidence, I believe.
The body of evidence used by the Security Council is based mainly on the following documents, compiled by a Security Council-mandated organ called the Somalia Monitoring Group – I assume you know this group. This group was mandated with the supervision of the arms embargo and monitoring its implementation and/or violation. In so doing, it has compiled several comprehensive periodic reports based on thorough research techniques and methodology. In many of these reports, there is a bulk of information showing that Eritrea has been violating the embargo by sending loads of ammunitions and weapons to Somalia in different times. Of course, the Eritrean government and its supporters are saying the reports are fabrications but such a mere allegation does not make the reports fictions (although there might be some inaccuracies in some part of the reports – we are talking about more than 600 pages of documents).
You may wonder when you see some of the details provided by the Monitoring Group. In one part, for example, the experts even report citing the International Civil Aviation Organization, the type of the plane that flew from Eritrea to Somalia, its registration number, international flight number and other technical matters which cannot be fabrications (as claimed by PFDJ). You can see this in the “REPORT OF THE MONITORING GROUP ON SOMALIA PURSUANT TO SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1676 (2006) - S/2006/913.” See “the case of the IL-76 operated by Eriko Enterprise, Asmara,” narrated on pp. 15 to 16 of the document (paragraphs 43 to 53 of the same document). You will see a breathtaking attention to detail. It is unlikely that all such kind of details provided by the Monitoring Group can be “fabrications.” It could be that the experts may have made some honest mistakes in some of their reports. Even so, this by no means can discredit the entire reports compiled by the experts.
All in all there is a total of 613 pages report on the violations of the Somalia arms embargo. In this report, Eritrea is mentioned probably more than any other country, although several other countries are also mentioned as violators. These reports are publicly accessible to the general public from the web page of the relevant Security Council committee which is: http://www.un.org/sc/committees/751/mongroup.shtml
People may not have time and sometimes the required expertise to distil the information contained in the reports but the reports contain detailed information, including official documents and letters from government authorities and other entities. In the web page you will see 11 reports compiled in different times by the Monitoring Group since July 2002. The length of each report ranges between 22 and 83 pages. Although there are several striking paragraphs with great attention to detail, I quote the following paragraph from one of the reports:
“On 15 July 2006 Colonel Yusuf Negash Warque, an Eritrean military officer, arrived in Mogadishu on a chartered aircraft. The Colonel, who speaks Somali, conducted a meeting with leaders of the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts, including from the Executive Committee and the Majlis Al Shura (Consultative Committee). The following day, 16 July, Colonel Warque departed Mogadishu in a Toyota pickup truck and, escorted by four [technicians], travelled to Mareer-Gur for a meeting with Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.”
This is paragraph 25 of S/2006/913, 22 November 2006.
The bottom line is: there is indeed a bulk of evidence implicating PFDJ on the Somalia arms embargo violations but this information still remains largely unknown by the general public. Work needs to be done in making this accessible to the public and this is one of the daunting tasks we have to do in our campaign strategies but I know it requires enormous amount of resources. I am simply writing this email to clarify matters.
Media and Human Rights Project