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UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea to visit Djibouti and Ethiopia

Geneva, 13 February 2015 -- The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea will visit Djibouti and Ethiopia from 16 to 27 February to hold meetings and collect testimonies and accounts on the human rights situation in Eritrea.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea continues to seek the cooperation of the Government of Eritrea but it has so far received no response to its request to visit the country. “While we are still waiting for  direct access to Eritrea, we are proceeding - as per international standards of commissions of inquiry - to investigate alleged human rights violations by collecting information  from relevant sources outside the country,” the Chairperson of the three-member United Nations panel, Mike Smith, said.

“The visits to Djibouti and Ethiopia provide us with an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of violations of human rights from those who have recently fled Eritrea”, Smith added.  “The decision of victims and witnesses of alleged human rights violations to testify will continue to contribute to increased international knowledge of the human rights situation in Eritrea”.

Mr. Smith reiterated that the Commission is conducting the inquiry with impartiality and with no preconceptions.  In carrying out its work, the Commission continues to be guided by the principles of independence, impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity and the principle of “do no harm”, including in relation to guarantees of confidentiality and the protection of victims and witnesses.
The Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, which in addition to Mr. Smith includes as members Victor Dankwa and Sheila B. Keetharuth, who also serves as Special Rapporteur for Eritrea, was established by the Human Rights Council during its twenty-sixth session (Resolution A/HRC/RES/26/24) in June 2014. The Commission of Inquiry is looking at a broad range of alleged violations of human rights in Eritrea since it became an independent State. The alleged violations that will 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.
The Commission will present a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June 2015. It will provide oral updates on its work to the Human Rights Council in March 2015 and to the General Assembly at its September 2015 session.
Eritreans who are interested in speaking with a representative of the Commission during the visits to Djibouti and Ethiopia should contact the Secretariat at coieritrea@ohchr.org as soon as possible.

The Commission has issued a call for submissions until 28 February 2015. Any State, individual or organization can submit information in writing to the Commission in English, Tigrinya or Arabic, by post or email.

Submissions may be sent:
By email to: coieritrea@ohchr.org
By post to: Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva

- See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15488&LangID=E#sthash.HQ3bWcxq.dpuf
- For more information about the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea please consult their website - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/CoIEritrea/Pages/commissioninquiryonhrinEritrea.aspx

- For media requests, please contact the Secretariat of the Commission of Inquiry by email: coieritrea@ohchr.org
- See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15488&LangID=E#sthash.HcZyU76h.dpuf