IFOR issued a statement expressing gratitude for the work of the Special Rapporteur for her steadfast reporting on human rights violations in Eritrea. It has not been an easy task, she has faced threats and dangers and nonetheless stayed true to her commitment of exposing human rights violations to the world.
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IFOR’s Main Representative to the United Nations in Geneva made a statement warning of the dangers of businesses exploiting the procedures of of the Human Rights Council in order to advance their narrow interests. The concern was illustrated by a British corporate lawyer posing as an African NGO in order to deny well-documented human rights violations by her client, exploiting slave labor in Eritrea. Download statement here
During the 38th session of the Human Rights Council held in Geneva, IFOR organized a side event, co-sponsored by War Resisters International, focusing on the causes of migration from Eritrea and the struggles of Eritrean refugees.
The event was well attended and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea, Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, offered a valuable contribution to the discussion.
Among the speakers was Father Mussie Zerai, a well known advocate for the rights of refugees and chairman of the Habeshia Agency. In addition to his participation on the panel, Father Zerai offered an additional statement calling on European governments to respond to migration in humane ways.
From June 6-23 IFOR's Representatives in Geneva attended the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. IFOR's Representatives Derek Brett, Hans Ulrich Gerber and IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza worked with IFOR's members and contacts around the world to provide make oral statements, submit written statements and host side events during the council.
In March of 2017 IFOR's representatives in Geneva engaged two important UN Human Rights bodies: the Human Rights Council (34th session) and the Human Rights Committee (119th session).
During the Human Rights Council session, IFOR delivered seven oral statements addressing critical concerns of IFOR members around the world. IFOR spoke to situations in Colombia, Eritrea, Turkey, and Western Sahara in particular as well as issues of torture and the forced recruitment of child soldiers in general.
IFOR's Main Representative to the UN in Geneva, Derek Brett, submitted a report on Eritrea to the 119th Session of the Human Rights Committee. The report specifically focused on matters of military service, conscientious objection and related human rights concerns in Eritrea.
From the Report:
Of all the world's states, Eritrea is the only one in which military service issues are widely considered to be one of the major human rights concerns. Both men and women are subject to conscription; since 2002, under a situation of general mobilization, the period of service has been prolonged indefinitely. Forced recruitment and abusive treatment within the military are widespread. The right of conscientious objection is not recognized; the only way to escape enlistment is to leave the country. Travel restrictions however mean that few citizens are able to do this legally, and it is believed that a “shoot to kill” policy is in place to prevent persons crossing the border clandestinely. Nevertheless, almost throughout its independent existence Eritrea has, proportionate to population, suffered one of the largest refugee outflows in the world.
To read the full report click here.
At the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, IFOR partnered with several organizations to offer testimony on the human rights situations in Tibet, Eritrea, and Bolivia.
Tibet: March 13
John Gaudette who works with the IFOR Affiliate, The Tibetan Center for Human Rights spoke under Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights civil, political, economic, social and cultural including the right to development.