In December 2020, a Rome-based Eritrean Catholic Priest said that his local sources had confirmed that Eritrean forces were taking part in the violent conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
Last year, Eritrea confirmed that its security forces were taking part in the Ethiopian war and promised to pull them out in the face of mounting international pressure.
In the May 20 letter, the Christian leaders call on the Eritrean government, which was among the 18 member States that were elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 14 October 2021, to address the human rights injustices in the country.
As UNHRC member, an entity responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights across the globe, Eritrea is expected to foster and protect all human rights among its citizens.
“Use Eritrea’s current term on the UN Human Rights Council to cooperate with its special procedures to address the nation’s human rights crisis,” the Christian leaders say in their letter addressed to Ambassador Ghebreyesus.
Eritrea was re-elected to serve on the UNHRC despite being found by a Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry in 2016 to have committed crimes against humanity since 1991, a longstanding refusal to cooperate with UN special procedures, and a lack of progress in implementing key recommendations made and accepted during its Universal Periodic Reviews, the Christian leaders say.
They also call on Eritrea’s ambassador to the UK and Ireland to encourage the government of President Isaias Afwerki to “release every prisoner of conscience unconditionally” and to withdraw their forces from Ethiopia.
At present, at least 373 Protestant Christians are confirmed jailed and subjected to severe torture across the country for refusing to recant their faith, some for nearly two years.
Eritrea has been under the leadership of President Isaias Afwerki since May 1993; he serves as both head of state and head of government.
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.
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