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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea will visit Djibouti and Ethiopia between February 16 and 27, to hold meetings and collect testimonies and accounts of the human rights situation in Eritrea.
The Commission of Inquiry said in Geneva that it would continue to seek the cooperation of the Government of Eritrea but it had so far received no response to its request to visit the country. Mike Smith, the Chairperson of the three-member panel said: "While we are still waiting for direct access to Eritrea, we are proceeding - as per the international standards of commissions of inquiry - to investigate alleged human rights violations by collecting information from relevant sources outside the country."
He said the visits to Djibouti and Ethiopia would provide the panel with the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of violations of human rights from those who have recently fled Eritrea. He noted that the decision of victims and witnesses of alleged human rights violations to testify would contribute to increased international knowledge of the human rights situation in Eritrea. The Commission of Inquiry which also includes Sheila B. Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur for Eritrea, was established by the Human Rights Council in June 2014.
The alleged violations to be investigated include, but are not limited to, extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; arbitrary arrests and detentions; torture; violations occurring during compulsory national service; and restrictions to freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly, association, religious belief and movement. Mr. Smith said the Commission would conduct the inquiry with impartiality and with no preconceptions. It would be guided by the principles of independence, impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity and the principle of "do no harm" with relation to guarantees of confidentiality and protection of victims and witnesses. The Commission will present a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June as well as report to the Human Rights Council in March and to UN General Assembly in September.