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African Civil Society Calls for Action on Human rights situation in Eritrea.

More than 14 civil society groups in Africa including Article 19 have written to the permanent representatives to the Unted Nations Human Rights Council urging urgent measures to be taken in response to appalling situation of widespread and systematic human rights abuse in Eritrea. This comes in light of African Union 50th anniversary being commemorated in Addis Ababa with the theme being promoting peace and security in Africa.

While the civil society organizations appreciate the adoption by consensus of resolution A/HRC/RES/20/20 on the human rights situation in Eritrea at the 20th session of UN Human Rights council in July 2012 and the appointment of a UN special rapporteur on Eritrea, there is considerable evidence that gross human rights violation is ongoing in Eritrea, something they expect in the UN rapporteurs report expected in June 2013.

Government officials arrested together with journalists in 2001 are still in detention in communicado while others have since died while in detention. There have been massive arrests of individuals purported to have dissenting views be it on religious or political grounds. Torture , arrests and forced labor are common while the government of Eritrea has systematically ensured that no civil society organizations and free independent media operate in Eritrea since 2001.

Eritrea has been on the spotlight for human rights violation for a while. In 2005 a joint resolution condemning gross human rights violation was adopted by the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. In 2003 and 2007 the commission also found the government of Eritrea guilty of human rights violation contrary to the African Charter on Human and Peoples rights and requested the release of those being held in detention including 18 journalists held incommunicado since 2001 to be given access to their lawyers.