African Union urged to act on the recent UN report on Eritrea

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More than 3,000 Eritrean refugees staged a demonstration in Addis Ababa today (June 23, 2016) in support of the recent report of the UN Commission of Inquiry, which states unequivocally that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea over the past 25 years. "The findings of the commission have established what we, the victims, had already known and felt for years," Tewodros Aregay, vice president of Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia, told Anadolu Agency. Demonstrators have urged the African Union to take action in light of the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea. "We urge the African Union to address, promote and protect human rights, and condemn grave violations of human rights, thus ending impunity in Eritrea," the Vice President added.

Zeray Wolday, an Eritrean who came to Addis Ababa from the U.S. to take part in the rally also told Anadolu: "We are here to request the AU to save Eritrea. The AU should support the report of the commission and stop the sufferings of Eritreans." Demonstrators also told FBC reporter, "We staged the demonstration to express our support to the report and urge the United Nation to apply the report so that the Eritrean people could live in peace and with freedom in their country." Eritrean refugees who sheltered in Shimelba, Maiayni, Etsets, Adiabish, Semera and Asaita camps also staged a demonstration against the Eritrean regime.

The recent report by the UN Commission of Inquiry, released on (June 8), lists "crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts" that were, the report says, all "part of a campaign to instill fear in, deter opposition from and ultimately to control the Eritrean civilian population since 1991". The 94 page report provides detailed evidence of its claims. Mike Smith, chair of the Commission of Inquiry said these crimes were still occurring today.

The Commission's report describes Eritrea as "an authoritarian State without an independent judiciary or a national assembly or any democratic institutions", and Mr. Smith said, "There is no genuine prospect of the Eritrean judicial system holding perpetrators to account in a fair and transparent manner. The perpetrators of these crimes must face justice and the victims' voices must be heard. The international community should now take steps, including using the International Criminal Court, national courts and other available mechanisms to ensure there is accountability for the atrocities being committed in Eritrea." The report noted there had been no improvement in the human rights situation in Eritrea documented in the first Commission of Inquiry report published just a year ago.

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