African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Posts Tagged ‘Eritrea’

A call for the Protection of Eritreans in their quest for safety

Posted by African Press International on November 25, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 25, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, expressed great concern about rampant human rights violations in Eritrea which caused hundreds of thousands to leave their country for an unknown and precarious future.

“I call on the Eritrean Government to respect its human rights obligations and to put an immediate stop to human rights violations that are committed in the country”, Ms. Keetharuth stressed after interviewing Eritreans during an official mission* to Tunisia and Malta.

The blanket disrespect of fundamental human rights in Eritrea is pushing some 2,000 to 3,000 people to leave the country monthly, although the risks along the escape routes are of a life-threatening nature. In 2012, the total Eritrean population of concern to UNHCR amounted to 305,723.

During her ten-day mission, the indefinite national service was quoted as the main reason inciting Eritreans to leave their home country. “The open-ended national service is a system which keeps Eritreans captive in a situation of despair, forcing them to take unimaginable risks in search of freedom and a safe haven,” she noted.

Young Eritreans, both women and men, often before reaching 18 years, are recruited into a compulsory national service characterised by severe human rights abuses. Punishment amounting to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment as well as detention in inhumane conditions is routine in the military. Women explained they were particularly vulnerable to sexual abuses by officers.

“These violations are committed with complete impunity, without any structures and procedures in place for victims to bring the perpetrators to justice”, she said.

Most of those she interviewed described difficult economic and social conditions in their home country; however, they noted that the daily struggle for access to food and water, and lack of adequate health care and electricity had not motivated their departure.

“It is the complete deprivation of the freedom and security of the person, a fundamental human right also recognised by Eritrea that drives entire families to leave their country in the hope to find a place where they feel protected”, Ms. Keetharuth explained.

Many refugees she met during her mission were rescued at sea after a dangerous journey across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea. One young man told her: “We are aware of the risks associated with crossing the desert and the sea. Nobody in his right mind would take such a decision. We do it because there is no other choice.”

Ms. Keetharuth called for the protection of those fleeing from risking their lives by undertaking highly dangerous journeys to reach a place they feel is safe. She also urged the international community to address the root causes of the refugee situation by listening to the voices of victims of human rights violations in Eritrea who reach the conclusion that their only option is flight.

The human rights expert reiterated the importance to end bilateral and other arrangements between Eritrea and third countries that would provide for Eritreans to be returned to their home country where they risk facing persecution, torture, inhuman treatment, and forced recruitment into indefinite military service.

Since her appointment in November 2012, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit Eritrea, which have so far not been granted. Consequently, the Expert resorted to gathering first-hand information from those who have left Eritrea. She reiterates her call for access to the country to assess the human rights situation.

The expert’s findings will be presented in her second report to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

Advertisements

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Assistant Secretary on a mission to UK and Etiopia

Posted by African Press International on November 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/: Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel to London, United Kingdom and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 12-21.

While in London, Assistant Secretary Richard will attend the Protecting Girls and Women in Emergencies conference hosted by the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening. The conference will build on Safe from the Start, the U.S. Government’s initiative to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls from the very onset of a crisis.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Assistant Secretary Richard will provide closing remarks at the International Conference on Family Planning and visit U.S. Government-funded health clinics that provide sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and services to survivors of gender-based violence. She will also meet with government officials and representatives of both international and nongovernmental organizations. Later in the week, Assistant Secretary Richard will travel to the Tigray Region in northern Ethiopia with U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia Haslach, to visit Eritrean refugees living in camps and to witness refugee programs and assistance provided on the ground. Ethiopia is hosting 77,000 refugees from Eritrea, and hosts refugees from Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, as well.

 

SOURCE

US Department of State

 

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Human rights in Eritrea

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 7, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth , will undertake an official visit to Tunisia and Malta from 11 to 20 November 2013 to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Since her appointment in November 2012, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit Eritrea, which have so far not been granted. She has repeatedly urged the Eritrean authorities to collaborate with her mandate with a view to addressing its human rights challenges.

Due to lack of access to Eritrea, the Special Rapporteur has decided to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees. The Special Rapporteur appreciates that Tunisia and Malta have agreed to provide her access to the Eritrean refugee population residing in those two countries.

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur will interview Eritrean refugees about the situation of human rights in Eritrea to corroborate allegations of widespread and systematic violations of human rights in Eritrea contained in reports she has received from a variety of interlocutors . The result of her findings, which will be strictly limited to the situation inside Eritrea, will be reflected in her second report to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ethiopian political leadership must respect human rights; says Bizualem Beza

Posted by African Press International on August 13, 2013

www.africanpress.me/ - Mr . Bizualem Beza - Ethiopian Human Rights Activist based in Norway

http://www.africanpress.me/ – Mr . Bizualem Beza – Ethiopian Human Rights Activist based in Norway

Ethiopia, officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With over 91,000,000 inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populated nation on the African continent. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.

The sudden death in August 2012 of Ethiopia’s long-serving and powerful prime minister, Meles Zenawi, provoked uncertainty over the country’s political transition, both domestically and among Ethiopia’s international partners. Ethiopia’s human rights record has sharply deteriorated, especially over the past few years, and although a new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, took office in September, it remains to be seen whether the government under his leadership will undertake human rights reforms.

Ethiopian authorities continued to severely restrict basic rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly in 2012. Thirty journalists and opposition members were convicted under the country’s vague Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009.The security forces responded to protests by the Muslim community in Oromia and Addis Ababa, the capital, with arbitrary arrests, detentions, and beatings.

The Ethiopian government continues to implement its “villagization” program: the resettlement of 1.5 million rural villagers in five regions of Ethiopia ostensibly to increase their access to basic services. Many villagers in Gambella region have been forcibly displaced, causing considerable hardship. The government is also forcibly displacing indigenous pastoral communities in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley to make way for state-run sugar plantations.

Hostility for independent media

Since the promulgation in 2009 of the Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO Law), which regulates nongovernmental organizations, and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, freedom of expression, assembly, and association have been increasingly restricted in Ethiopia. The effect of these two laws, coupled with the government’s widespread and persistent harassment, threats, and intimidation of civil society activists, journalists, and others who comment on sensitive issues or express views critical of government policy, has been severe.

INTERVIEW:

“One on One with Bizualem Beza, Human Rights Activist: Part 1 of 2″

“One on One with Bizualem Beza, Human Rights Activist: Part 2 of 2”

Ethiopia’s most important human rights groups have been compelled to dramatically  scale-down operations or remove human rights activities from their mandates, and an unknown number of organizations have closed entirely. Several of the country’s most experienced and reputable human rights activists have fled the country due to threats. The environment is equally hostile for independent media: more journalists have fled Ethiopia than any other country in the world due to threats and intimidation in the last decade—at least 79, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation is being used to target perceived opponents, stifle dissent, and silence journalists. In 2012, 30 political activists, opposition party members, and journalists were convicted on vaguely defined terrorism offenses. Eleven journalists have been convicted under the law since 2011.

On January 26, a court in Addis Ababa sentenced both deputy editor Woubshet Taye and columnist Reeyot Alemu of the now-defunct weekly Awramaba Times to 14 years in prison. Reeyot’s sentence was later reduced to five years upon appeal and most of the charges were dropped.

On July 13, veteran journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who won the prestigious PEN America Freedom to Write Award in April, was sentenced to 18 years in prison along with other journalists, opposition party members, and political activists. Exiled journalists Abiye Teklemariam and Mesfin Negash were sentenced to eight years each in absentia under a provision of the Anti-Terrorism Law that has so far only been used against journalists. Andualem Arage, a member of the registered opposition party Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), was sentenced to life for espionage, “disrupting the constitutional order,” and recruitment and training to commit terrorist acts.

Activists demand respect for human rightsin Ethiopia because the government is insensitive for good governance and allows corruption to be the order of the day. According to the U.S. Department of State‘s human rights report for 2004 and similar sources, the Ethiopian government’s human rights“remained poor; although there were improvements, serious problems remained.” The report listed numerous cases where police and security forces are said to have harassed, illegally detained, tortured, and/or killed individuals, who were members of opposition groups or accused of being insurgents. Thousands of suspects remained in detention without charge, and lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a problem. Prison conditions were poor. The government often ignores citizens’ privacy rights and laws regarding search warrants. Although fewer journalists have been arrested, detained, or punished in 2004 than in previous years, the government nevertheless continues to restrict freedom of the press. The government limits freedom of assembly, particularly for members of opposition groups, and security forces have used excessive force to break up demonstrations. Violence and discrimination against women continue to be problems. Female genital mutilation is widespread, although efforts to curb the practice have had some effect. The economic and sexual exploitation of children continues, as does human traffickingForced labor, particularly among children, is a persistent problem. Low-level government interference with labor unions continues. Although the government generally respected the free exercise of religion, local authorities at times interfere with religious practice. In order to improve Ethiopia’s image, they hired US agencies to improve Ethiopia’s image for 2.5$ million.

During the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was the only African country to defeat an European colonial power and retain its sovereignty as an independent country. It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the UN. When other African nations gained their independence following World War II, many of them adopted the colors of Ethiopia’s flag. In 1974, at the end of Haile Selassie I‘s reign, Ethiopia became a federal republic ruled by a communist military junta known as the Derg, until it was defeated by the EPRDF, which has ruled since 1991.

Ethiopia is a multilingual society with around 80 ethnic groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara. It is one of the founding members of the UN, the Non-Aligned MovementG-77 and the Organisation of African Unity, with Addis Ababa serving as the headquarters of theAfrican Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the UNECA, theAfrican Standby Force and much of global NGOs focused on Africa. Despite being the main source of the Nile, the longest river on earth, Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s, exacerbated by civil wars and adverse geopolitics. The country has begun to recover recently, and it now has the largest economy by GDP in East Africa and Central Africa

End

———-

 

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Global Journalists Congress begins in Ireland

Posted by African Press International on June 7, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

More than 200 journalists and leaders of journalists unions and associations have converged in Dublin, Ireland for the 28th World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) which is expected to focus attention on media freedom, the safety of journalists and job security amid growing austerity measures in many countries.

The 5 day event, which runs to June 7, kicked off yesterday with a meeting of the Gender Council, which discussed strategies for improving gender parity in journalists unions and associations at the national, regional and global levels.

The Congress, which will today focus attention on job security for journalists under the themes “Decent Jobs, not Austerity’’, will  officially be opened by the President of the Republic of Ireland,  Michael D. Higgins.

Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA), an affiliate of IFJ, is represented at the Congress by its National Chairman William Oloo Janak who is expected to speak about media freedom, safety and security of journalists and the uncertainty of jobs facing Kenyans journalists.

“This is an important platform to discuss challenges facing journalists and we will highlight the case of Kenya given the problems journalists face, including increasing safety and security concerns and violation of journalists labour rights by employers,” said Janak in a statement from Dublin.

The Congress is expected to discuss the killings of journalists in Somalia and other hot spots, the continued threats, intimidation, arrests and detentions of journalists in a number of countries including in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, among others.

On Wednesday June 5, the Executive Council of the Irish National Union of Journalists (NUJ) will lead the delegates in a “Freedom Walk” to remember the those journalists killed since the last World Congress in Cadiz, Spain in June 2010.

The Congress, which has representatives from over 110 countries, has a strong African delegation drawn from more than 40 journalists unions and associations under the continental grouping of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) which seeks to play an important role within the global journalists’ body.

During the Congress, the delegates will elect a new leadership to steer the IFJ for the next two years till the next congress in 2015.

 

 

END

 

 

Posted in AA > News and News analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: