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Ms Vice-President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
The European Union has been following the case of Dawit Isaac from the outset and remains concerned about his whereabouts and health. We have shared these concerns with the authorities in Eritrea on numerous occasions.
Violations of human rights, including the arbitrary detention of political prisoners and non-respect for the freedom of speech and the media, are of continued concern to us. We have addressed them and we will continue to do so.
We have raised these concerns bilaterally and at the appropriate international fora, such as the Human Rights Council, urging the government of Eritrea to take concrete steps to address and remedy them.
But we can not only criticise, we have to engage proactively to promote positive change. This is not something that happens overnight: it requires continued, energetic efforts.
I believe that our robust engagement on the political and cooperation track has improved bilateral relations, increased the level of trust and allowed us to discuss sensitive issues with a view to improve the respect for human rights.
We do that in the interest of improving the living conditions of the people of Eritrea and increasing our ability to promote reforms. Results, whatever small, bring us closer to where we would like to be.
The bilateral engagement on human rights between the government of Eritrea and Eamon Gilmore, our Special Representative for Human Rights, Eritrea’s engagement within the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review and our support to help them implement some of the recommendations they have accepted are concrete cases in point.
The European Union looks forward to Eritrea’s Action Plan on the recommendations and is making good progress with the government to start activities soon.
I trust that by engaging in dialogue and exploring ways to work together we stand a better chance to make our voice heard and to positively influence the country’s human rights record, promote the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms – and advance the case of Dawit Isaac.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-195730