Conservative Party Human Rights Commission holds hearing on Eritrea

The Conservative Party Human Rights Commission held a hearing in Parliament on the human rights situation in Eritrea on July 12.

The Commission heard evidence from four speakers, and invited contributions from the floor. Eritrea, according to Noel Joseph, Director of Eritreans for Human and Democratic Rights, is ruled by “one of the most brutal regimes in the world”. Thousands are reportedly in prison for their political or religious beliefs, some in shipping containers and small cells. Torture is routine and widespread and many prisoners are held in solitary confinement. There is no press freedom in the country and religious freedom for Christians and Muslims is heavily restricted.

Evidence was also presented of the intimidation of Eritrean dissidents in the UK by agents of the Eritrean regime. Video footage was shown of a meeting in London of Eritrean exiles being violently disrupted by representatives of the regime. The number of Eritrean asylum seekers in the UK has risen from 20 in 1993 to 1,105 in 2004, as more people flee the country. “Our basic rights have been trampled on,” said Selam Kidane, Co-ordinator of Release Eritrea.

The speakers urged the Commission to work with other Parliamentarians of all parties to urge the British Government to increase pressure on Eritrea to respect human rights. The European Union should increase efforts to facilitate the border demarcation process and urge the Eritrean Government to immediately ratify the Constitution.

The Commission will continue its investigation of human rights violations in Eritrea. We welcome continued submissions from Eritrean groups and will invite the Eritrean Ambassador to respond to the allegations later in the year.