lunedì 10 dicembre 2007


Network of Eritrean Civil Societies in Europe (NECS-Europe) C/0 Eritreans for Peace and Democracy – P.O.Box 401 - 1214 Vernier – Geneva – Switzerland – PRESS- RELEASE NECS Urged EU to take President Issias to task over the gross human rights abuse in Eritrea. (Lisbon 7-12-07) Representatives of the Network of Eritrean Civic Societies in Europe (NECS - Europe) urged The European Union to strengthen its call for the respect of human and democratic rights in Eritrea. At a conference organised ahead of the Euro-African summit in Lisbon, representatives of the network outlined the catalogue of gross human and democratic rights abuse continuing unabated in the country and urged MEPs to heed to the EU’s own resolutions which the government of Eritrea has failed to take note of, during the meetings at the summit. Responding to the appeal Ana Gomes MEP thanked the delegation for their presence and reiterated that the EU had indeed made calls through the resolutions for the Eritrean government to have regard for human rights in the country. She further stated that European Parliament’s request to visit Eritrea had so far been frustrated by various excuses from the Eritrean government. In her presentation to the conference Ms Selam Kidane of NECS Europe stated that what makes the Eritrean situation different from all the other situations in Africa is the fact that in current day Eritrea there are no systems and mechanisms for highlighting, recording and addressing the human rights abuse. She said ‘we have heard from a human rights group based in Harare, we have heard from a member of an Ethiopian opposition party recently released from prison, we saw pictures of horrendous abuse in Angola, but in Eritrea there are no human rights organisations to highlight the abuse that goes on, imprisoned dissidents are languishing in jail incommunicado for over six years and the journalists who would be recording this to bring us the coverage of the sort we saw this morning are also in jail’. During extensive interviews given to the international media later on in the day the NECS delegation stated; ‘it is imperative that the EU linked development aid to discernable improvements in the country’s overall human rights culture. NECS has never called and will never call for the withdrawal of emergency aid as this would have a catastrophic implication for our people, however the allocation of €122 million from the European development fund in the absence of clear commitment to improve human rights in Eritrea goes against the EU values’. As well as briefing MEPs, human rights campaigners and the media NECS distributed its latest briefing paper prepared ahead of the Euro-African summit. Further to outlining NECS’ concerns the paper made the following recommendations: 1. Release of Prisoners: The EU should strengthen its call for the immediate release of all those who are illegally detained in Eritrea. It should put more energy and political resolve in highlighting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in Eritrea. 2. Democratic governance: The EU should insist in the development of democratic institutions and introduction of democratic governance in Eritrea. Eritrea is currently governed by the wishes of one man with no transparency and accountability. The EU ought to support Eritrean civic organisations currently operating within the EU as they need resources for human capacity building to enable them function properly and be effective defenders of human and democratic rights as such organisations do not exist in Eritrea. 3. Strong Action: The EU should follow its demand with strong and decisive action if Eritrea fails to be governed by the rule of law and democratic principles. Instituting a travel ban to members of the Eritrean government and the ruling party would give a clear signal to the Eritrean authorities of the importance the EU places on human rights and it would also give real hope to the Eritrean people. 4. Aid and Human Rights: Development aid ought to be linked to discernable improvements in the country’s overall human rights culture, or to an agreement either for the provision of human rights training for members of the state security apparatus, or for assistance in the development of independent local human rights organisations and defenders. The Commission's allocation of €122 million in bilateral aid for 2008-2013 from the 10th European Development Fund, in the absence of any visible change or even willingness to improve human rights in Eritrea, goes against EU values and needs to be re-examined. 5. Urgent Resolution of the Border Issue: In order to remove a source of instability that has contributed towards insecurity in the entire Horn of Africa and the deterioration of human rights in both Ethiopia and Eritrea, there is a need for key members of the international community, especially the EU, to undertake sustained high-level advocacy to ensure Ethiopia’s unconditional compliance with the international ruling on the border between the two countries, and the demarcation of this border as a matter of urgency. Note to Editors 1. Linking Human Rights and Development – A Strategy for Africa was a conference organised by Amnesty International (Portugal) with the support of Ana Gomes. MEP at the European Centre Jean Monnet in Lisbon on the 6th Dec 2007. NECS-Europe is a network of Eritrean human and democratic Rights organisations based Across Europe. Lisbon, 7 december 2007

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