The EU thanks the Special Rapporteur for her presentation and reaffirms its support to her mandate.
The EU welcomes Eritrea’s increased engagement with regional and international actors such as the cooperation agreement between the countries of the Horn of Africa and the ongoing dialogue between Eritrea and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights. These developments have not translated into tangible human rights reforms on the ground in Eritrea.
We remain concerned about the indefinite National Service, one of the main drivers of emigration, and about related issues as reported by the Special Rapporteur. The serious violations of human rights, including indefinite and arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, inhumane prison conditions and persistent forms of gender-based violence, as also reported by the Special Rapporteur, need to be addressed urgently. The European Union stands ready to assist Eritrea in addressing these challenges. We urge the government of Eritrea to lift the severe restrictions imposed on religious communities and church-based organisations. The closure and confiscation of faith-based health facilities exemplify violations of the freedom of religion or belief and the right to health of all persons in Eritrea, as well as of land and property rights, including those of foreign communities. In particular during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to health facilities is urgently needed.
We urge Eritrea, a member of this Council, to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur as well as with thematic special procedure mandate holders and UN human rights mechanisms, notably by granting them full and unhindered access to the country and to adopt the proposed benchmarks.
In your view, how can the international community best assist Eritrea in urgently reforming the national service?