HRC 32 - Agenda Item 4 COI on Eritrea

Speaker: Elizabeth Chyrum

Title: The situation of human rights in Eritrea

Date: 21 June 2016

Thank you Mr. Vice President,

We thank the Commission of Inquiry for its final report.  We also take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of women and men who bravely came forward with evidence for the Commission's report, risking government reprisals.  This report is their voice as it is for the millions of other ordinary Eritreans, our brothers and sisters.

Mr. Vice President,

Many years ago, when I first started attending this Council, I found there was limited knowledge of the reality of Eritrea's human rights situation.  Diplomats were deeply moved when they heard about the tragedy, but often felt powerless to act through a lack of substantive international documentation.

It is now four years since this Council established a Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, and two years since it established a Commission of Inquiry.  Both mechanisms have left us no more room for ignorance.  In particular, the Commission's report has captured the voice of my people, crying out in their agony and their suffering.

However, the report has not just provided cast iron evidence of government-sponsored atrocities.  It has also mandated and empowered this Council to end them.

The report concludes that crimes and violations occurring in my country are of the highest order and almost certainly constitute crimes against humanity.  It also says that the Eritrean government is not in a position to ensure accountability for these crimes.  However, the report empowers this Council to seek justice at a higher level.  Diplomatic friends and colleagues can - and now must - act.

Listen to the voices of Eritreans in the report.  The grandparents, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters: act for them, act for their futures, and act for the good of Eritrea.  Do all that you can to ensure their voices are now heard at the Security Council and beyond, and let us bring an end to this suffering.

Thank you.