The mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, has been renewed for another year, by a resolution adopted today by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. Needless to say, the resolution was adopted by consensus, as has been the case since July 2012, when the Council appointed the SR.
This will be the SR’s last year of mandate with regard to her responsibilities related to the situation of human rights in Eritrea. Since her appointment, the SR has served diligently and in an exemplary fashion, for which many pro-democracy Eritreans, including ELS, are very grateful.
Over and above renewing the mandate of the SR, the HRC resolution of 23 June 2017 strongly condemned “the reported systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and abuses that have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea in a climate of generalized impunity.”
The resolution also includes some innovative measures, by what seems to be a departure from “standard” practice. These include, among others: holding “an enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Eritrea at its thirty-seventh session [March 2018], with the participation of the Special Rapporteur, the Office of the High Commissioner, civil society and other relevant stakeholders.” These are in addition to the presentation of an oral update by OHCHR in March 2017 and a written report of the SR in June 2018. The SR will also have an interactive dialogue at the UN General Assembly in New York in October 2017.
Representatives of the Eritrean government and its sympathisers tried their best to thwart renewal of the mandate of the SR. But as noted in a short update of ELS (dated 15 June 2017), renewal of the mandate was a forgone conclusion, as observed in the first informal consultation of the permanent missions of states in Geneva that took place in the morning hours of 15 June 2017.
In the end, it is imperative to have tangible accountability measures for the on-going situation of crimes against humanity in Eritrea. Although at a very slow pace, the process is moving to the right direction.
(Updated on 28 June 2017)