Eritrea Elected to Human Rights Council Despite Abysmal Human Rights Record

Despite strong opposition from civil society organisations, on 12th October 2018, Eritrea was elected as a new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, dealing a significant blow to the Council’s reputation given the country’s abysmal human rights record. The Council has adopted yearly resolutions on Eritrea’s grave human rights situation since 2012. In 2016, an independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the Council concluded that it had “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity, namely, enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder, had been committed in Eritrea since 1991".

Has­san Shire, Execu­tive Director of DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Def­en­ders Project) said:

“Eritrea is unfit for membership in the Human Rights Council, not the least because of its dreadful rights record and attacks against the UN human rights system.... The government should know that because of its election, its behavior will be more, not less, scru­ti­nised.”

On 14th November, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to lift sanctions it imposed on Eritrea in 2009, which included an international arms embargo, travel bans and the freezing of assets of high-profile Eritrean officials.