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GENEVA (8 June 2015) — The Government of Eritrea is responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that have created a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled, a large proportion of the population is subjected to forced labour and imprisonment, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the country, according to a UN report released Monday. Some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity.

Citing an array of human rights violations on a scope and scale seldom witnessed elsewhere, the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea describes a totalitarian state bent on controlling Eritreans through a vast security apparatus that has penetrated all levels of society.

“Information gathered through the pervasive control system is used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety,” the 500-page report says. “It is not law that rules Eritreans – but fear.”

The release of the report comes as the international community, particularly governments in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, struggles to cope with a growing exodus of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants across the Mediterranean and along other irregular routes. Many of them are Eritreans, a significant proportion of whom fall victim to human traffickers while trying to reach Europe. The UN refugee agency placed the number of Eritreans under its concern outside the country at more than 357,400 in mid-2014.

The report strongly urges continued international protection for Eritrean refugees fleeing human rights violations, and warns against sending them back to danger in a country that punishes anyone who tries to leave without permission.

“Faced with a seemingly hopeless situation they feel powerless to change, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans are fleeing their country,” the report says. “In desperation, they resort to deadly escape routes through deserts and neighbouring war-torn countries and across dangerous seas in search of safety. They risk capture, torture and death at the hands of ruthless human traffickers. To ascribe their decision to leave solely to economic reasons is to ignore the dire situation of human rights in Eritrea and the very real suffering of its people. Eritreans are fleeing severe human rights violations in their country and are in need of international protection.”

The commission of inquiry was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014 to conduct an investigation of all alleged violations of human rights in Eritrea, including: extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and inhumane prison conditions; violations of freedom of expression and opinion; freedom of association and assembly; freedom of religion and belief; freedom of movement; and forced military conscription.

The three-member commission is chaired by Mr. Mike Smith (Australia), with Mr. Victor Dankwa (Ghana), and Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth (Mauritius), who also serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, as commissioners.

Announcing the release of the report Monday, Ms. Keetharuth urged renewed commitment from the international community to help end the climate of fear in Eritrea.

“With the end of the commission’s investigations and the publication of this report detailing our findings on human rights violations in Eritrea, I look forward to a renewed commitment by the international community to address the justice deficit and to support our call for a restoration of the rule of law,” she said. “Rule by fear – fear of indefinite conscription, of arbitrary and incommunicado detention, of torture and other human rights violations – must end.”

The commission is scheduled to formally present its report to the UN Human Rights Council on June 23 in Geneva.

Eritrean authorities ignored repeated requests by the commission for direct access to the country as well as for information. The commission travelled to eight other countries and carried out some 550 confidential interviews with Eritrean witnesses who had fled the Horn of Africa nation. In addition, it received some 160 written submissions.

The report says fear of reprisals, even among witnesses now in third countries, was a major challenge.

“Many potential witnesses residing outside Eritrea were afraid to testify, even on a confidential basis, because they assumed they were still being clandestinely monitored by the authorities and therefore feared for their safety and for family members back in Eritrea,” the report says.

The report notes that the initial promise of democracy and rule of law that came with Eritrea’s independence in 1991 has been extinguished by the Government under the pretext of national defence.

“The commission finds that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea and that there is no accountability for them,” it says. “The enjoyment of rights and freedoms are severely curtailed in an overall context of a total lack of rule of law. The commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour may constitute crimes against humanity. The commission emphasizes that its present findings should not be interpreted as a conclusion that international crimes have not been committed in other areas.”

The report lists the main perpetrators of these violations as the Eritrean Defence Forces, in particular the Eritrean Army; the National Security Office; the Eritrean Police Forces; the Ministry of Information; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Defence; the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ); the Office of the President; and the President.

The report describes the repressive systems used by the Government to control, silence and isolate individuals, including a pervasive domestic surveillance network in which neighbours spy on neighbours and even family members mistrust each other.

“As a result of this mass surveillance, Eritreans live in constant fear that their conduct is or may be monitored by security agents and that information gathered may be used against them, leading to arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, disappearance or death,” it says.

The judicial system in the country lacks independence and the administration of justice is “completely deficient,” the report says. Arbitrary detention is ubiquitous and conditions of detention in the country’s vast network of jails are extremely harsh. Holding prisoners incommunicado is a widespread practice, and many detainees simply disappear. In addition, many detainees have no idea why they are being held, nor of the length of their imprisonment.

“The commission finds that the use of torture is so widespread that it can only conclude it is a policy of the Government to encourage its use for the punishment of individuals perceived as opponents to its rule and for the extraction of confessions,” the report says. “Monitoring of detention centres is non-existent and perpetrators are never brought to justice.”

The report also describes how the Government, under the pretext of defending the integrity of the State and ensuring national self-sufficiency, has subjected much of the population to open-ended national service, either in the army or through the civil service. When they turn 18 or even before, all Eritreans are conscripted. While national service is supposed to last 18 months, in reality conscripts end up serving for an indefinite period, often for years in harsh and inhumane conditions.

Thousands of conscripts are subjected to forced labour that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years. Women conscripts are at extreme risk of sexual violence during national service.

Many others – detainees, students, members of the militia – are also subjected to forced labour: “The use of forced labour is so prevalent in Eritrea that all sectors of the economy rely on it and all Eritreans are likely to be subject to it at one point in their lives,” the report says.

“The commission concludes that forced labour in this context is a practice similar to slavery in its effects and, as such, is prohibited under international human rights law.”



Up to 3,400 migrants rescued off Libya coast in a single day as navies from European nations run massive rescue mission.

07 Jun 2015 01:40 GMT

Up to 3,400 migrants have been rescued off the coast of Libya, as navies from a number of European countries launched a massive rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

Fifteen rescue operations were carried out in the last 24 hours. Ships from the British, Irish, Italian and German navies have been involved in the operations.

"Migrants are being brought back to southern Italy. About 100 migrants arrived in Lampedusa earlier, and some more are headed to the ports of Palermo and Trapani city in Sicily," Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from the Italian island of Lampedusa, said.

"We don't know when the rest will be arriving, because it's simply a logistical nightmare for Italian authorities as many of them are ending up on mainland Italy," she said.

The European navies as part of the Triton Mission rescued migrants from nine wooden fishing boats and six rubber dinghies, our correspondent said.

One million migrants

British authorities have warned that up to 500,000 people could attempt the perilous crossing this summer.

Captain Nick Cooke-Priest, on the British warship HMS Bulwark, told reporters onboard: "Indications are there that there are 450,000 to 500,000 migrants in Libya who are waiting at the border" for voyage from the North African country's Mediterranean coast in hopes of reaching Italian shores.

There is an uptick in the number of migrants leaving the Libyan coast on weekend. If we compare the number of migrants leaving at this point compared to the last year, there is a radian increase of 30 percent, Al Jazeera's Abdel-Hamid said.

"There are an estimated one million migrants waiting in Libya to cross the sea. These arrivals are an indication that it could be a very busy summer for all the ships that are patrolling the Mediterranean," she said.

Nearly 1,800 migrants are thought to have drowned attempting to make the crossing since the start of this year, including some 800 in one sinking that was the biggest maritime disaster in the Mediterranean since World War II.

That disaster prompted European governments to significantly increase search and rescue operations between Italy and North Africa but they have been unable to agree on a longer-term strategy to ease the migration crisis.

Watch Hamid's previous reports on board the Italian patrol boat: Witnessing rescue efforts for Mediterranean migrants and Rescued migrants reflect on desperate journeys to European waters.

Source: Al Jazeera

ISIL militants are believed to have kidnapped 86 refugees

Militants fromIslamic State of Iraq and the Levant(Isil) are believed to have kidnapped 86 Eritrean refugees from a smugglers' caravan in westernLibya.


The militants struck at dawn on Wednesday morning, stopping the vehicle before separating Christian refugees from their Muslim counterparts, according to Meron Estafanos, the co-founder of the Stockholm-based International Commission on Eritrean Refugees.

Many of the refugees – among them 12 women – were forced to lie about their faith. Those who claimed to be Muslim were grilled on their knowledge of the Koran, as well as their prayer habits.

Wednesday's kidnapping bears chilling echoes of asimilar incident in April when Isil militants kidnapped 79 Eritrean and Ethiopian Christian refugees. Days later, more than thirty of the men were beheaded or shot dead in scrubland while young survivors were forced to watch.

Details of Wednesday's attack will emerge in the coming days as a handful of escapees tell their stories. At least nine men were able to dive silently from the back of the jihadists' speeding truck.

A group of Eritrean refugees walk along a railway line into central Calais

According to Mrs Estafanos, who has spoken to some of the men, the hostages mostly hail from the Eritrean town of Adi Keyih. "Those who escaped are in the middle of nowhere right now and we need to get them to a safer place – but it is hard while there are no NGOs there, no one able to help," said Ms Estafanos.

"If it is known they were taken by (Isil), no one will protect them."

After formally announcing the establishment of three Isil-run "provinces" across Libya, the jihadists are solidifying their grip over chunks of territory through a mix of spectacular violence and strict implementation of their clerics' rulings.

This is at least the third time in three months that Eritrean migrants in Libya have been targeted by the militants. Reports emerged earlier this week that two Eritrean refugees has been shot dead after the jihadists stopped a truck carrying 75 African migrants. Once again, the passengers were separated according to their faith before the killings were carried out.

Twenty two per cent of people entering Italy by boat in 2014 were from Eritrea, according to the UN, a statistic prompted by "ruthless repression" in their home country.

Rights abuses perpetrated by Eritrea's government, coupled with dismal economic prospects, are driving hundreds of people out of the country every day, according to an interim report by the UN's commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea.



|  01 JUNE 2015

An extraordinary meeting of the SI Migrations Committee was held in Rabat on Monday 1st June, to focus on a social democratic response to the migrations crisis unfolding in different parts of the world. The meeting took place at the Moroccan Parliament, hosted by the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, the USFP.
The Committee, chaired by Habib el Malki (USFP), focused on three key themes: a. Asylum seekers and migrants fleeing conflict and violence: the obligation of the international community to save and protect; b. The moral and humanitarian responsibility to address the plight of migrants escaping poverty and hunger; and c. Building a response to the current crisis based on our values and principles.
Driss Lachguar, First Secretary of the USFP, addressed the opening session. He highlighted the need for a roadmap to develop a comprehensive new approach to today’s migrations phenomenon which is not only due to economic factors but also a consequence of the ideology inherited from the cold war, fuelling instability and insecurity, and the correlation with arms merchants and those who finance terrorism. He emphasised the diversity of Morocco with its Moorish and Jewish heritage from immigration in the 16th century and regretted the lack of a medium or long term strategy by today’s government in Morocco to effectively deal with this problem.
The meeting also heard a contribution from Driss El Yazami, from the National Council of Human Rights in Morocco who outlined the mutations in migrations over recent decades. He emphasised the current diverse nature of migrants, including those with university degrees and today’s high number of women and children, and pointed out that today all countries in the world are affected and all are countries of departure. He also highlighted that the use of migration as a tool for political campaigns should be a subject of debate, as well as the key issue of international governance and the rise of xenophobia.
The SI Secretary General, in concluding the opening session, recalled the point that human history has shown that migration is a source of wealth both economically and culturally and in today’s crisis too many people are being denied fundamental rights and too many states are not respecting them. The level of injustice today is immense, bearing in mind the millions displaced by wars, conflicts, persecution, famine and economic hardship. He particularly underlined the need, in facing this crisis, to act in accordance with the values that unite our movement and constitute our identity, and to work for political and human solutions rather than to rely on the use of force.
Outlining the tasks ahead, the Committee chair emphasised the urgent need to come up with a plan of action; to agree on a diagnosis of the situation in different parts of the world to identify the true causes of the circumstances in order to deal with the origins rather than the consequences; to treat the migrations phenomenon as a symptom of the chaos and institutional destruction we see in many states; to seek solutions other than military ones that are repressive; and to take a fresh look at the concept of security, placing people at the center.
As a specially invited guest, Tun Khin, a Rohingya activist recognised internationally, made a presentation on the history and plight of the Rohingya people, an ethnic group in Burma who are denied nationality. Of a population of 3.5 million, more than1.5 million have been forced to flee their homeland in Burma due to persecution and violence against them. Presently, 8,000 Rohingya people are stranded on boats at sea, being turned away from neighbouring countries. He stressed the importance of addressing the root cause of this displacement of his people.
During the discussions, it was recalled that although the focus was currently on the plight of migrants at sea, migration was also a matter of crossing the desert where many people in Africa died. While emphasising the benefits of migration, it was pointed out that migration itself was not the problem, it was illegal migration that needed to be addressed. There was also a perceived need to bridge a link between migration and development and to adopt programmes for the transfer of technology to stimulate development where needed. Globalisation and the IT revolution had been expected to bring progress, but in some cases it had brought terror, wars, tanks and more deaths. Greater political efforts were required by the international community to work towards liberating oppressed peoples. With regard to Europe, the need to share the burden was emphasised as well as the need to urgently act to save lives.
Formulating an approach that is gender based was underlined, bearing in mind the high number of female migrants and their particular vulnerability to abuse.
At the conclusion of its discussions, the Committee adopted a Declaration and agreed to continue advancing with the Charter of the Rights of Migrants, whose elaboration had begun at previous meetings, with a view to presenting it for adopton at the next Council of the Socialist International due to take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 6-7 July. The objective of the Charter is to provide a code of conduct for political action by member parties.
Original: Spanish
  1. Migration is a global phenomenon that affects all countries on all continents.
  2. Migrants are first and foremost human beings and, as such, they have rights.
  3. Crisis situations and acute conflicts in various regions of the world are producing a tragic and irreversible loss of innocent lives among victims of situations that are not of their making. Given the increasing number of tragedies of this kind, the Migration Committee has decided to convene urgently to discuss the situation and call for immediate action.
  4. The Socialist International hopes to find comprehensive, lasting and fair solutions that might resolve the root causes of forced migration.
  5. However, the Socialist International is aware of the urgent moral imperative to act to stop the human bloodshed that undermines the basic foundations of social order.
  6. The Socialist International Migrations Committee urges all its member parties to stand true to their principles and to act decisively in circumstances in which neutrality or indifference are not an option.
  7. We must reject solutions to humanitarian crises that are founded on a logic of force or based exclusively on maintaining security. We also reject the criminalisation of migrants. In their precarious situation, they cannot, under any circumstances, be considered guilty of their situation.
  8. We socialists must be guided by the principles and values that we share as socialists: respect for the dignity of all people, equal rights and opportunities and the pursuit of justice in all actions: there is no greater or more urgent political aim than that of safeguarding these principles.
  9. We urge socialist Governments and Party representatives at all levels immediately to put forward effective initiatives committing themselves to act with all their strength and resources to stem the loss of human lives resulting from illegal migration.
  10. Agreement and commitment must be sought between the various States, both in regional institutions and in the context of the United Nations, but the responsibility of individual States cannot wait or be dependent on the existence of these supranational agreements or undertakings.
  11. States not only have an obligation to comply with international law, under the treaties and conventions to which they are party, but also the unavoidable moral duty to act without delay to save human lives who depend on actions and decisions that are within their reach.
  12. The Socialist International wants to highlight the case of victims of the situations covered by the 1951 Convention and to urge all signatory countries to comply with it scrupulously. 
  13. The case of the Rohingya people in Burma requires the international community as a whole, and the neighbouring countries in particular, to take responsibility for protecting these people, persecuted as they are in their place of origin, while lacking any international protection to stop the oppression to which they are subjected or even the slightest degree of solidarity that might provide them with a safe haven. The Socialist International urges the Burmese authorities to cease all forms of persecution of the Rohingya people, to recognise their nationality and the human rights to which they are entitled.
  14. The people of Sub-Saharan countries are being affected by armed conflicts, as well as social and gender conflicts and extreme poverty. Emigration is the only escape for many of these people. While the media spotlight is focused on Mediterranean crossings, the new geopolitical map of migration flows shows that the majority of these migrants travel to other African countries. The Socialist International urges socialist parties in the region to strengthen their immigrant protection policies to guarantee their safety and respect for their rights.
  15. Countries such as Morocco are an example of a transit country which has become a destination country for many, the authorities of which have sought to establish a policy of acceptance and integration.
  16. On numerous occasions, immigrants whose final destination is Europe are subject to abuse by people trafficking networks, whose greed and ruthlessness lead them into situations where their lives are put at risk. The Socialist International urgently calls upon all policy makers to fight these criminal organisations, but also to use all means to prevent the loss of any more lives. It is also a priority to address the different causes, prospects and solutions in an honest dialogue involving European and African political leaders, in order to find global, fair and lasting solutions to the crises that are causing forced migration.
  17. In addition to the actions taken directly by States, organisations like the UNHCR, which devote their efforts to caring for millions of refugees and victims of conflicts, urgently need more financial resources to meet their growing needs. Therefore, we call upon all States to contribute jointly to meeting these unavoidable costs.
  18. At its next meeting, which will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 6th and 7th July, the Socialist International will discuss the adoption of international undertakings of a global nature, which will include the adoption of a Charter of the Rights of Migrants, which will become a mandatory code of conduct for political action by its member parties.

EU stärker diktaturen

Friday, 05 June 2015 20:00 Written by

DEBATT Förändra EU:s bistånd till Eeritrea så att det gynnar kampen för demokrati, skriver fem debattörer.

De senaste veckorna har ett ofattbart stort antal människor mist livet i Medelhavet, när de försökt nå Europa på överlastade båtar. De har betalat dyrt till flyktingsmugglare för att få komma ombord på båtar som inte haft rimliga möjligheter att klara färden.

En stor andel av flyktingarna har flytt från Eritrea eftersom livet där har blivit alltmer outhärdligt. Där styr en järnhård regim, ledd av diktatorn Isaias Afewerki, som för 25 år sedan var en frihetshjälte i Eritreas kamp för självständighet.

Den självständigheten har inte lett till demokrati och respekt för mänskliga rättigheter, utan till motsatsen.

De unga tvingas till en militärtjänstgöring, som inte har någon sluttidpunkt. De får mindre än två dollar per dag att leva på. Den konstitution som antogs några år efter självständigheten har aldrig trätt i kraft. Militära och andra ledare har fängslats. Det finns ingen yttrandefrihet eller pressfrihet.

Svensk-eritreanen Dawit Isaak sitter fängslad sedan många år, utan vare sig rättegång eller dom. Genom vittnesbörd från personer som sett anläggningarna där regimen förvarar sina kritiker, känner vi de fruktansvärda förhållandena för de fängslade. Vilka personer som sitter i dessa fängelser, eller om de redan har dött, får omvärlden inte veta.

FN:s råd för mänskliga rättigheter (HRC) har nyligen genomfört en undersökning om situationen i Eritrea. Rapporten presenterades den 16 mars.

De som skulle genomföra undersökningen blev inte insläppta i landet. De har därför samlat vittnesbörd från fler än 500 eritreaner i exil.

Av dessa framgår att de flesta eritreaner inte har något hopp inför framtiden. De känner att de knappt har något val när det gäller viktiga beslut, som var de ska bo, vilket yrke de ska ägna sig åt, när de ska gifta sig eller vilken gud de ska tillbe. Ofattbart många har erfarenhet av att bli frihetsberövade. Det finns både officiella och inofficiella fängelser, både ovan och under jord. I fängelse är det sannolikt att man blir utsatt för tortyr. Ingen ställs till svars för brott mot mänskliga rättigheter.

Människor som flytt lever i många olika länder, bland annat i Sverige. En del flydde på grund av kriget mot Etiopien, som slutade med att Eritrea blev självständigt 1991. I dag är det regimens förtryck. Det har förvärrats under 2000-talet. I världen finns en stor diaspora av eritreaner i exil. Bland dem finns olika organisationer med uppfattningar om vad som bör göras för att få slut på den tragiska situationen.

En sådan är Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP). I sin tidskrift Liberty, som kom ut i maj framför de sin besvikelse över att EU än en gång planerar att anslå medel till regimen i Eritrea. De menar att detta stärker diktaturen och motverkar den respekt för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter som EU vill främja.

Andra organisationer i diasporan delar EPDP:s uppfattning.

Det är inte första gången som EU anslår pengar till regimen i Eritrea. Efter gränskonflikt mellan Eritrea och Etiopien 1998 fann EU anledning att bedriva utvecklingssamarbete med Eritrea. Inför ett beslut om nytt sådant stöd år 2009 skrev EU-kommissionen att situationen för mänskliga rättigheter är mycket dålig i Eritrea och att den trodde att landet kommer att nå en ekonomisk och social utveckling endast om det sker en förbättring av den situationen. I ett brev den 15 april 2015 till EPDP från EU:s höga representant för utrikesfrågor och säkerhetspolitik, Federica Mogherini, framhålls att EU-stödet genom åren syftar till att trycka på för att nå en förbättring av de mänskliga rättigheterna.

Någon sådan förbättring har dock inte kommit till stånd.

I dag är det år 2015, och vi ser hur Eritreas befolkning stadigt minskar när invånarna flyr förtrycket. Vi tror, liksom EPDP, att det är hög tid för EU att upphöra med stödet till regeringen eftersom det inte lett till ökad respekt för de mänskliga rättigheterna.

EU och dess medlemsstater har biståndsorganisationer med kunskap om hur krafter som verkar för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter bäst ska stödjas. Vi, i likhet med EPDP, menar att denna kunskap måste utnyttjas i stödet till Eritrea. Massiva utbildningsinsatser inom grundutbildning, yrkesutbildning eller grundläggande akademisk utbildning till de hundratusentals eritreaner som sedan många år befinner sig i flyktingläger i östra Sudan och norra Etiopien kan vara ett bland många sätt. Ett exempel är flyktingskolan Wad Sherifey i Kassala i Sudan, som med minimala resurser kämpar för att ge grundläggande kunskaper till barn i ett sådant läger.

Människorna i dessa läger behöver rustas för att kunna delta i uppbyggnaden av den demokratiska stat som måste komma till stånd när diktaturen försvinner.

Under åtskilliga år har många länder avstått från att ge bistånd till Eritrea på grund av regimens omfattande brott mot mänskliga rättigheter. Program av det här slaget borde därför kunna få brett stöd.

Vår förhoppning är att Sverige ska påverka EU:s bistånd till Eritrea i den här riktningen och därmed förmå EU att överge den hittillsvarande linjen, som i praktiken underlättar för diktaturen att fortsätta förtrycket av medborgarna.

Görel Sävborg-Lundgren, medlem i Tro och Solidaritet

Rezene Tesfazion, f d riksdagsledamot (S)

Carl Lindberg, ledamot i Uppsala kommunfullmäktige (S)

Bo Nylund, teol dr hc

Sigbert Axelson, professor em

WorldMapPublished on Thursday 12 February 2015.

The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.

Top of the list, as so often, are three Scandinavian countries: Finland, which has been in first place for five years in succession, followed by Norway and Denmark. At the other end of the scale, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, in last place, were the worst performers. France is ranked 38th (up one place), the United States 49th (down three places), Japan 61st (down two places), Brazil 99 (up 12 places), Russia 152 (down four places), Iran 173rd (unchanged) and China 176th (down one place).

The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide deterioration in freedom of information in 2014. Beset by wars, the growing threat from non-state operatives, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, media freedom is in retreat on all five continents.

The indicators compiled by Reporters Without Borders are incontestable. There was a drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. Two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed for the 2015 World Press Freedom Index performed less well than in the previous year. The annual global indicator, which measures the overall level of violations of freedom of information in 180 countries year by year, has risen to 3,719, an 8 percent increase over 2014 and almost 10 percent compared with 2013. The decline affected all continents.

Indices 2015 EN

The European Union-Balkans region is in the lead by far, but nonetheless recorded the biggest fall between the 2014 and 2015 editions. This disturbing trend reflects a two-fold phenomenon: the excesses of some member countries on the one hand and the inability of EU mechanisms to contain them on the other. The region that is bottom of the freedom of information list, North Africa and the Middle East, this year once again contained information “black holes”. Comprising entire regions, these are controlled by non-state groups in which independent information simply does not exist.

The most striking developments in the 2015 edition

The fallers

Andorra (32nd), the sharpest fall, has paid the price for the lack of independence of its media from financial, political and religious interests. It fell by 27 places as a result of the many conflicts of interests and the great difficulty experienced by journalists in covering the activities of Andorran banks, coupled with the lack of any legal protection for freedom of information, such as the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.

In Asia, East Timor (103rd) fell by 26 places. The creation of a press council and the adoption of a code of ethics in October 2013 have been a disappointment. In 2014, the government proposed a tough new media law, which has led to widespread self-censorship.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Congo (107th) fell 25 places after a difficult year for independent news outlets. The government stepped up its witch-hunt of critical journalists, at times resorting to extreme violence. Journalists who refuse to keep quiet are forced to flee the country or are expelled.

Western Europe saw numerous countries in decline. Italy (73rd) fell 24 places after a difficult year for journalists for whom threats from the mafia, among others, and unjustified defamation suits, skyrocketed. Iceland (21st, down 13) paid the price of worsening relations between politicians and media. The drop was an alarm call for this “model of democracy”.

In South America, Venezuela (137th) fell 20 places. The National Bolivarian Guard (national army) opened fire on journalists during demonstrations, although they were clearly identified as such. In Ecuador (108th, down 13), the promising Organic Law on Communication soon revealed its limitations. Forced corrections became a means of institutional censorship.

Journalists working in Libya (154th, down 17 places) have lived through a chaotic period since the fall of Gaddafi, during which Reporters Without Borders recorded seven murders and 37 kidnappings of journalists. Faced with such violence, more than 40 people working in the media decided to leave the country in 2014. Reporting on the activities of the militias that have carved up the country is an act of heroism.

In South Sudan (125th, down 6 places), gripped by civil war, the radical polarisation and constant harassment of news organizations caused it to fall down the rankings. Press freedom was suspended “because of civil war”, as a Reporters Without Borders headline said in July last year on the third anniversary of the country’s birth.

Pressure on independent media continued to intensify in Russia (152nd, down 4), with another string of draconian laws, website blocking and independent news outlets either brought under control or throttled out of existence. The repressive climate encouraged some local despots to step up their persecution of critics.

In the Caucasus, Azerbaijan (162nd, down 2) suffered an unprecedented crackdown on critics and registered the biggest fall in score among the index’s 25 lowest-ranking countries. With media freedom already limited by one-sided regulation and control of the advertising market, the few remaining independent publications were either collapsing under the impact of astronomic damages awards or were simply closed by the police. The number of journalists and bloggers who were jailed turned Azerbaijan into Europe’s biggest prison for news providers.

In the Americas, the United States (49th, down three places) continues its decline. In 2014, the New York Times journalist James Risen came under government pressure to reveal his sources. Although the Obama administration backed away in that case, it continues its war on information in others, such as WikiLeaks.

The risers

There are few of these. Mongolia (54th) rose 34 places, the Index’s biggest jump. It had few violations in 2014, while the benefits of legislation on access to information began to be seen. Problems remain, however, including on the legislative front, but there has been a clear improvement.

Tonga (44th), which held its first democratic elections in 2010, strengthened its position thanks to an independent press, which has established its role as a counter-weight to the government. The Polynesian nation has risen an enviable 19 places.

The long-running political crisis in Madagascar (64th) came to an end with the election of Hery Rajaonarimampianina as president in January 2014 and the departure of the information minister. This democratic transition eased the previous polarisation and boosted the country by 17 places. Yet some subjects remain taboo, such as the financial monopolies in the hands of leading political figures.

In Europe, Georgia (69th, up 15) continued to rise for the third year running and is now close to where it was before the 2008 war. It is enjoying the fruits of reforms undertaken after a change of government through elections, but it continued to be handicapped by the extreme polarization of its news media.

In 86th place, Ivory Coast (up 15 places) continued to emerge from the political and social crisis that plunged the country into full-scale civil war in 2010. The results are still mixed in a country where the broadcasting sector is expected to be opened up in 2015, although there are some fears that this might usher in institutional censorship.

Nepal (105th) was up 15 places thanks to a drop in violence by the security forces against journalists, especially at demonstrations. This improvement remains to be confirmed in 2015.

Tunisia (126th) rose seven places, a relative increase although in absolute terms the country stagnated. However, the fact remains that political stabilisation in 2014 had benefits for news and information. On the other hand, the number of attacks on journalists remains too high and the implementation of measures to ensure freedom of information has been long in coming.

A cause for satisfaction was Brazil (99th, up 12 places), which rose above the symbolic 100 mark thanks to a less violent year in which two journalists were killed compared with five in the previous year.

Still in the Americas, Mexico (148th) managed to pull itself up four places. In November, which is not included in the 2015 Index, journalists were attacked during demonstrations about the disappearance of 43 trainee teachers in thesouthwestern state of Guerrero. Reporters Without Borders recorded three cases in Mexico of journalists killed as a direct result of their work, compared with two in 2013.

2015 Index: Reasons for the worrying decline

Conflicts proliferated in 2014: the Middle East, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq… All warring parties without exception waged a fearsome information war. The media, used for propaganda purposes or starved of information, became strategic targets and were attacked, or even silenced.

See the analysis: “News control - powerful weapon of war”

Non-state groups follow no laws and disregard basic rights in pursuit of their own ends. From Boko Haram to Islamic State, Latin American drug traffickers and the Italian mafia, motives may vary but their modus operandi is the same – the use of fear and reprisals to silence journalists and bloggers who dare to investigate them or refuse to act as their mouthpieces.

See the analysis: “Non-state groups: tyrants of information”

Stretching sacrilege prohibitions in order to protect a political system is an extremely effective way of censuring criticism of the government in countries where religion shapes the law. The criminalization of blasphemy endangers freedom of information in around half of the world’s countries. When “believers” think the courts are not doing enough to ensure respect for God or the Prophet, they sometimes take it upon themselves to remind journalists and bloggers what they may or may not say.

See the analysis: “Blasphemy: political use of religious censorship”

Can journalists be seen as the common enemy of protesters and police alike at some demonstrations? This is the sad conclusion of Reporters Without Borders this year. 2014 saw an increase in violence towards reporters and netizens covering demonstrations.

See the analysis: “The growing difficulty of covering demonstrations”

The European Unions recorded a bigger decline in 2015 than in the 2014 Index, exposing the limits of its “democratic model” and highlighting the inability of its mechanisms to halt the erosion. The EU appears to be swamped by a certain desire on the part of some member states to compromise on freedom of information. As a result, the gaps between members are widening – EU countries are ranked from 1st to 106th in the Index, an unprecedented spread.

See the analysis: “European model’s erosion”

Democracies often take liberties with their values in the name of national security. Faced with real or spurious threats, governments arm themselves routinely with an entire arsenal of laws aimed at muzzling independent voices. This phenomenon is common to both authoritarian governments and democracies.

See the analysis: “National security” – spurious grounds”

These authoritarian governments are in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and also the Middle East. Most are headed by cartoon characters come to life who would be a laughed at if they did not exercise total control over news and information. In 2014 they further tightened the grip they have had on the media for many years. Among the lowest-ranking 20 countries in the 2015 Index, 15 performed even worse than they did in the 2014 edition.



Sesadu 2

The Swedish- Eritrean Partnership For Democray and Development/ SESADU cordially invites all forces for democratic change in Eritrea to a meeting in support of Geneva Demonstration that will be conducted on June 26th 2015. The aim of this meeting is coordinate the trip of those will participate and ask support from the public to succeed the rally in Geneva.

Date; Sunday 14th, 2015

Time: 15.00-21.00

Place: ABF Sundbyberg- Esplanaden 3C

Welcome all!

Swedish- Eritrean Partnership for Democracy and Development/ SESADU

                             አገዳሲ ሕዝባዊ ኣኼባ

ጽላል ስዊደናዊ ኤርትራዊ ንደምክራያን ምዕባለን ኤርትራ ንኩሎም ሓይልታት ንደሞክራስያዊ ለውጢ ነቲ ብዕለት 26 ሰነ ኣብ ጀነቫ ክካየድ ተመዲቡ ንዘሎ ሰላማዊ ሰልፊ ንምድጋፍ ናይ ሕዝቢ አኼባ መዲቡ ስለዘሎ ንኩሉኩም ብኽብሪ ይዕድም። ዕላማዚ ኣኼባ ንሰላማዊ ሰልፊ ጀነቫ ንመእዋትን መገሻ እቶም ዝሳተፉ ንምውሃድን ሓገዝ ካብ ሕዝቢ ንምሕታትን ኢዩ፡፤

ብደሓን ምጹ1

ጽላል ስዊደናዊ ኤርትራዊ ንደሞክራስያን ምዕባለን ኤርትራ

Sesadu 1


Swedish Foreign Minister

Margot Wallström

Dear Madam,

We, the undersigned representatives of Eritrean political and civil society organizations and community members residing in this country, have jointly decided to submit to you this urgent message regarding the extremely critical situation in our country of origin, Eritrea. This appeal seeks your most immediate attention and action to prevent Eritrea from becoming another full-fledged failed state in the region because of a regime that has turned to be one of a couple of worst of the worst in suppressing fellow citizens on this planet.

We above all appeal for mistakes by fraternal countries to be corrected as soon as possible. Dictators may keep the peace only for some time. But extreme repression as the one in Eritrea does always lead to the worst situation that cannot be imagined until it happens.

We Eritreans submitting this appeal fully understand the ill-advised feeling growing in this country and in the diplomatic corridors of the rest of continent that, observing the harmful developments in the region (e.g. Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria), what Eritrea deserves is simply a repressive dictatorship that it already has!But we cannot disagree more.

After 30 years of liberation war and additional 24 years of military bravado and hostilities with all neighbors by dictator Isaias Afworki, Eritrea’s 6 million people today constitute one of the two most militarized societies on the globe. Many learned estimates indicate that up to 90% of Eritreans inside the country and abroad are today opposed to the regime in Asmara and wish to get rid of it anytime soon by any means possible.

Presently, the regime’s security apparatus may appear hard to break. However, the situation is already humanly unbearable and cannot be reversed by any amount of support. It is thus very likely that, if the repressive regime which already lost the trust of the entire population is helped to continued, the highly militarized Eritrean society will at any moment implode and sow chaos to Ethiopia, the Sudan and much beyond the immediate region. We know nothing worse can happen to this fragile region than Eritrea’s imminent implosion/explosion if the regime is helped to continue to stay in power. It will not stay in power. It can only lead to a regrettably disastrous chaos.


The vast majority of us Swedish- Eritreans residing are today opposed to the autocratic regime in Asmara and are of the full conviction that the country will become another war zone like Somalia or Libya ONLY if the lawless regime that caused untold suffering to our people for the past 24 years is appeased with and let to continue its stay in power. Only to reiterate: we cannot hide that we are appalled by the unjustified appeasement with the reprehensible regime by the EU and a number of European countries.

Therefore, we are submitting to the Government and Parliament of Sweden this joint appeal of all Eritreans opposed to the dictatorship in Eritrea and struggling for justice and democracy to ask your support and most immediate action on the following major areas:

  1. Initiation of a Robust Program in Support of Eritrean refugees:
  • Eritrea should be considered a humanitarian disaster area. The hundreds of thousands of Eritrean refugees in the Horn of Africa region as well as those stranded in Libya, Yemen and Israel deserve an action plan initiated by the EU and supported by the international community.
  • Those recent arrivals in the refugee camps in the Sudan and Ethiopia, who exceed 300,000, require a robust program that should include not only better health, food and shelter facilities but also educational and skill training programs that can be funded mainly by resources that were suspended by different countries in the past several years from reaching the Eritrean people because of the reprehensive human rights record of the Eritrean government.
  • A joint UN-EU action is required to address the plight of over 2,000 refugees still in Libya, 50,000 refugees in Yemen and 35,000 in Israel which still considers them as infiltrators and illegal migrants.
  1. EU Must Stop Beefing Up the Dictatorship in Eritrea:

Needless to say, the dictatorship in Eritrea, which failed to listen to different recommendations and advice in the past quarter of a century, does not deserve support to stay longer. The people inside the home country and abroad are doing all what it takes to replace the callous dictatorship by a democratic system of governance. We therefore appeal to you and all member countries of the EU to advise this important regional organization (EU) to stop its planned support with more than €300 million to the regime in Eritrea.

  1. Humane Refugee Policies Requested

We likewise call on Sweden and the rest of European countries to revise their refugee policies by opening up their doors to distressed Eritrean asylum seekers who are stranded in hostile places like Libya.

  1. Support UN Decisions and Recommendations

We also strongly appeal to Sweden and the rest of European countries in the EU and outside it to give full support to UN Security Council Resolutions on targeted sanctions as well as to the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council and its Eritrea-related organs that include the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea and the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea.

Trusting that you will give due attention and appropriate action on the above, we remain,

Respectfully yours,

Swedish- Eritrean Partnership for Democracy and Human Rights

Copies to:

1. Swedish standing committee for foreign affairs

2. Swedish EU- parliament leaders

3. Human rights organizations ( Amnesty International , Human Rights Watch)

Mediterranean migrant crisis 1

                        Photo: More than 200 survivors were brought to the Sicilian harbour of Augusta. (Reuters)

More than 4,200 migrants trying to reach Europe have been rescued from boats in the Mediterranean in last 24 hours, the Italian coastguard said on Saturday.

In some of the most intense Mediterranean migrant traffic of the year, a total of 4,243 people have been saved from fishing boats and rubber dinghies in 22 operations involving ships from nations including Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Britain.

The Italian navy said 17 corpses had been found on one of the boats off Libya. Details of the nationalities of the victims and how they died have not yet been released.

The bodies and more than 200 survivors were brought to the port of Augusta in eastern Sicily aboard the Italian navy corvette Fenice, the coastguard said.

Migrants escaping war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East this year have been pouring into Italy, which has been bearing the brunt of Mediterranean rescue operations.

Most depart from the coast of Libya, which has descended into anarchy since Western powers backed a 2011 revolt that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

If there is anyone in Europe or in the world who thinks one's own conscience can be buried at a depth of 387 metres, France and Italy will go and tell them that this is not possible.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi

Calm seas are increasingly favouring departures as warm spring weather sets in.

About 800 migrants drowned off the coast of Libya last month, when their 20-metre long fishing boat capsized and sank, making it the Mediterranean's most deadly shipwreck in living memory.

That spurred the European Union to agree on a naval mission to target gangs smuggling migrants from Libya, but a broader plan to deal with the influx is in doubt due to a dispute over national quotas for housing asylum seekers.

The EU plan to disperse 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other countries met with resistance this week, with Britain saying it would not participate and some eastern countries calling for a voluntary scheme.

The UN refugee agency estimated about 35,500 migrants have arrived in Italy from the beginning of the year up to the first week of May, a number which has grown considerably since. About 1,800 are either dead or missing.

'Sisters and brothers' to be recovered and buried

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has repeated his commitment to refloat the wreck of the trawler which sank in April with the deaths of around 800 migrants and lay to rest the victims.

The Italian navy located the wreck in early May lying 85 nautical miles north of the Libyan coast.

Investigators say pictures of the wreck show bodies lying nearby, on the bridge of the ship and inside the hull.

We will bring this boat to the surface and we will give a grave to these men and to these women, to these sisters and these brothers.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi

"When this boat capsized and sank, we committed ourselves to go and check if there really were as many bodies as the survivors said," Mr Renzi said after talks with French prime minister Manuel Valls.

"I made this commitment and I would like to confirm it once again."

"We will bring this boat to the surface and we will give a grave to these men and to these women, to these sisters and these brothers."

"If there is anyone in Europe or in the world who thinks one's own conscience can be buried at a depth of 387 metres, France and Italy will go and tell them that this is not possible," he said.

Just 28 survivors were rescued and taken to Italy and 24 bodies were picked up and buried in Malta. The survivors included a Tunisian and a Syrian who are suspected of being the captain of the trawler and his second-in-command.



His Excellency Mr. Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Gutierrez

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Geneva, Switzerland

March 19th, 2015

Subject: Open Letter of Appeal to UNHCR on behalf of the Eritrean Refugees in Israel

Dear Sir,

We, the more than 300 representatives of the various Eritrean communities in Europe, who organised today’s protest demonstration in Geneva, would hereby like to submit our appeals to your Excellency with the hope that you will use your good office to stop the planned inhuman and forceful deportation of Eritrean refugees against their will from Israel to Uganda and Ruanda.


Since the outbreak of the 1998-2000 ferocious Eritrea/Ethiopia war and the cold war which followed between the two countries, young Eritreans in their thousands have been fleeing from Eritrea to different countries using various means and ways in order to avoid being forcefully drafted into a compulsory open-ended oppressive military service, including being forced into quasi-slavery forced labour on farms and factories. Some of those Eritrean refugees undertook a very perilous journey through the unforgiving Libyan and Sinai deserts, somehow reaching Israel after many terrifying ordeals. So many of their colleagues, brothers or sisters perished on the way from thirst and hunger, while others died at the hands of human traffickers and human organ hunters and traders.

The Eritrean refugees undertook the most hazardous route to reach the borders of Israel in the hope that a people which has suffered so much throughout history at the hands of anti-Semitic governments and in the most extreme way at the hands of the Nazi rulers of Germany would welcome Eritreans as refugees. Thus, those Eritreans who managed to reach Israel were conscious that, as the Israeli government is a signatory to the Geneva Convention on refugees, they could apply officially for refugee status to remain in Israel until the political situation returns to normality in Eritrea.

Unfortunately, and much to our dismay, we have recently learned that the Israeli government has a definite plan to deport thousands of Eritrean refugee applicants to some African countries that are willing to receive them in exchange for Israeli money and arms. It is important to mention here that Eritreans and the democrats of other countries clearly understand that the action and measures being undertaken by the Israeli government against Eritrean refugees is diametrically opposed to the Geneva Convention’s status and rights-based instrument, which is underpinned by a number of fundamental principles, most notably non-discrimination, non-penalisation and non-refoulement.

The illegal measures, which the Israeli government has announced to undertake against the thousands of Eritrean refugees living in Israel, have angered the thousands of Eritreans living in the western world and elsewhere. Consequently, as members of the worldwide Eritrean community, we, the representatives of the Eritrean community in Europe, have organised a peaceful protest demonstration in Geneva today to express our anger and dismay regarding the illegal deportation of Eritrean refugees by the Israeli government. We wish to convey to the Israeli government that Eritrean refugees are not commodities for sale to some corrupt and dictatorial governments in Africa where human rights and human dignity are grossly and crudely violated. In other words, the express purpose of our protest and the appeal letter we are handing to both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Geneva, and the Israeli Embassy in Switzerland, is to show active solidarity to our distressed fellow Eritreans in Israel. We wish to alert and inform the UNHCR in Geneva and other Human Rights organisations and governments to the plight and the imminent danger the thousands of Eritrean refugees are facing in Israel today.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established in December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly with a full mandate to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve their problems worldwide. In other words, as far as we are concerned, the primary purpose of the UNHR is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, and to strive to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.

Indeed, as the key legal document, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees has clearly defined refugees and their rights and the legal obligations of the states hosting refugees. A refugee, according to the Convention, is defined as someone owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

Similarly, under the title ‘prohibition of expulsion or return (“refoulement”)’, article 33 of the 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees, has also stated clearly that ‘No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedomwould be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’.


Thus, in line with the purpose, we have gathered here in Geneva in front of the Israeli Embassy to peacefully demonstrate and protest against the illegal measures, which the Israeli government is about to take against the thousands of Eritrean asylum applicants in Israel. We demand that the Israeli government immediately stops its threats to deport Eritrean refugees illegally from Israel. We also call on the United Nations and its representatives in Geneva to immediately intervene on behalf of the thousands of Eritrean refugee applicants living under fear and the looming danger of being deported against their will to some African countries run by oppressive and non-democratic regimes. In consultation with the Israeli government, we wish to find alternative host countries in Europe or elsewhere that are willing to receive our fellow country men and women on humanitarian grounds.

We thank you very much in advance for your understanding and for the urgent action that you will take to save the thousands of Eritrean refugees from being deported illegally to countries where they will not feel safe.

Long Live International Solidarity!!

With regards,

Dr Tsegezab Gebregergis:

Spokesperson and Coordinator of the Geneva Demonstration