(London 07-05-2011) UK based Eritrean human rights organisations welcome the designation of Eritrea as a country of serious concern for human rights violations, by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  

The FCO’s 2010 Human Rights and Democracy Report, which lists Eritrea along with 25 other serious human rights violators, as a country of serious concern, was launched earlier this week. The designation is based on the FCO’s serious and wide-ranging human rights concerns warranting high-level UK engagement on human rights in 2010, to effect positive change in the wider region.

The annual report lists various violations in Eritrea that contributed to this designation and concludes that overall, there has been lack of progress in addressing human rights concerns in recent years. Highlighting concerns over the lack of will to implement the ratified Eritrean constitution, the severe lack of access to justice and atrocious prison conditions, as well as violations of freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom of movement and minority rights, the report concludes that, whilst the FCO recognises that Eritrea may have valid security concerns over its unresolved border with Ethiopia, this should by no means justify the  current serious restriction of human rights in the country.

Welcoming the report, Eritreans for Human and Democratic Rights - UK (EHDR-UK), Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea (CDRiE), Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRC) and Release-Eritrea UK, stated that they have been calling for the designation since 2007 and had met FCO officials to highlight the very concerns that led to the designation. Noting the opportunities for close monitoring of the situation in Eritrea, the groups pledge to voice the plight of countless Eritreans at the receiving end of all the violations highlighted here and more. The groups will particularly work with refugees and victims of smuggling and trafficking to strengthen the body of evidence used by FCO and others when engaging with the situation in Eritrea.

The full report can be found on http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/human-rights/around-the-world/human-rights-report

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