ERITREA: UN Rapporteur ought to recuse herself and UN HRC should annul her politically motivated mandate

The United Nations is increasingly seen as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy, undermining its credibility and integrity as well as its efficacy. From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11 attacks on the United States, to the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia in 2006, the “global war on terror”, the UN has been used to advance US foreign policy. Phyllis Bennis, Fellow of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies, said the U.S. effort to win support in the Security Council for its war against Iraq, led to the kind of over-the-top bribes and threats that characterized the run-up to the passage of resolution 678 authorizing war against Iraq in 1990. According to Bennis:

“…At that time, every impoverished country on the Security Council, including the former Zaire, Ethiopia and Colombia, was offered free or extra-cheap oil, courtesy of Saudi Arabia and the exiled Kuwaiti royals, orchestrated by the United States. Ethiopia and Colombia were also offered new arms packages, after years of being denied military aid, because of war and human rights violations…The only two countries that voted against the 1990 resolution authorizing a war against Iraq were Cuba and Yemen….But minutes after Yemen said ”no”, the U.S. ambassador turned to the Yemeni diplomat in the Security Council chamber, and said: ”That will be the most expensive vote you would ever cast…Three days later the U.S. cut its entire 70 million dollar aid budget to Yemen…”

When the US-Ethiopia engineered UN Sanctions resolutions were adopted by the Security Council, it was done using similar underhanded shenanigans. The US claimed that it was an “African Initiative”-it was not. African states on the UN Security Council and IGAD members such as Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia served as the “African Faces” for US agendas against the State of Eritrea.DSC_0114

In July 2012 the US and Ethiopia employed similar tactics to pass another unjust, unwarranted Resolution against the State of Eritrea, this time it was at the UN Human Rights Council in which Ethiopia was a member of the Council. Once again, Djibouti, Somalia and Nigeria served as the “African Faces” to advance Ethiopian and US agendas against the State of Eritrea whilst members of the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL) served as the “Eritrean Faces” for the minority regime’s agendas vis-a-vis Eritrea.

Since its establishment in 2006 as the successor body to the disestablished Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, made up of 47 United Nations member States, has a mandate to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights, to address situations of human rights violations and make recommendations. In its former incarnation as the Commission on Human Rights, it developed a reputation for allowing the participation of notorious human rights abusers, undermining its legitimacy and its reputation. Reconstituted as the UNHRC in 2006, the new forty-seven member body has a higher threshold for membership as well as a universal periodic review (UPR) process, which evaluates the human rights records of states, including those on the council.

Yet, with the introduction of politically motivated activities by Council members such as Ethiopia and politically motivated interference by international NGOs such as Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide the integrity of the new body and its efficacy in dealing with human rights issues has been compromised. As Eritrea prepares for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a flurry of activities by these notorious NGOs and their Eritrean surrogates, designed to hijack the process and prevent Eritrea’s voice from being heard, are in full swing.

UN Resolution 65/251 stresses that the work of the UN Human Right Council (UN HRC) shall be guided by the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity. As the record will show, it is not by coincidence that Sheila Keetharuth was appointed Special Rapporteur for Eritrea… as the Government of Eritrea has been her target for quite some time, and the UN HRC is a means to achieving the goals of her sponsors. Her background and activities against the Government of Eritrea on behalf of known anti-Eritrea political groups and individuals is a matter of public record and will be briefly mentioned below.

Sheila Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea has undermined her credibility and integrity and should consider recusing herself as her impartiality is seriously questioned, not because of the inherent flaws in the mandate itself, but because of her past and present entanglements with anti-Eritrea elements who are obviously influencing her judgment. Such blatant affirmation of prejudice takes away from the good that Special Rapporteurs should do. States such as Eritrea can work productively with those who are concerned with Human Rights, and Human Rights only, and not those advancing a political agenda…compromising the credibility and integrity of the Human Rights regime….

The UN Human Rights Council’s Manual of Operations[1] asserts that the independent status of these Rapporteurs “is crucial in order to enable them to fulfill their functions in all impartiality. It says:

“…Act in an independent capacity, and exercise their functions . . . free from any kind of extraneous influence, incitement, pressure, threat or interference, either direct or indirect, on the part of any party, whether stakeholder or not, for any reason whatsoever, the notion of independence being linked to the status of mandate holders, and to their freedom to assess the human rights questions that they are called upon to examine under their mandate…”

In 2001, the Eritrean Diaspora was introduced to the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL), bandwagon activists with lynch mob mentalities, who falsely claimed to be representing a large section of the Eritrean Diaspora, when in fact, their support remains minimal or non-existent. This assortment of like-minded defectors, disgruntled runaway diplomats, pedophiles, rapists, self-professed “intellectuals and professionals”, deceitful counterfeiters, information launderers and an assortment of shameless scandalous opportunists have made it their forte to defame and vilify Eritrea, its people and its leadership. The very first thing they did was create various cyber political parties, cyber “human rights”, “journalists”, “religious persecution’ and “democracy” groups. It was their way of entering into the NGO network.

Florian Eisele (AmpersandGlobal) and Meron Estefanos (Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights - EMDHR)

These faceless Astro turf groups emerged under various names. While only a handful remain today, at one point, these fake “human rights” and “democracy” groups set up 47 one and two-persons groups throughout Europe and the United States. Some of these individuals have established many organizations under their names, and some of these NGOs have falsely claimed to be “human rights organizations,” granting them an aura of objectivity and credibility (“the halo effect”). They also served as the “Eritrean Faces” for western and Ethiopian agendas against the people and government of Eritrea. They conduct their activities in secret because they know that they do not have the support of the Eritrean people in Eritrea or in the Diaspora-with the exception of a few family members.

These groups and their western NGO partners used the Human Rights Council’s complaint procedure (formerly known as “1503 procedure” and currently regulated by resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007)[2] which addresses communications submitted by individuals, groups, or CSOs concerning consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any circumstances. This procedure is supposed to be confidential.

Since the establishment of the Human Rights Council in 2006, while thousands of complaints have been submitted to the procedure each year, only 14 complaints were ultimately referred to the Council, of which only two referrals were made public. The HRC, at the behest of the United States, in 2012 accepted the complaints filed against Eritrea by these politically motivated groups and by Resolution resulted in the appointment of the Special Rapporteur, despite Eritrea’s engagement and communication.

According to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights[3]:

“…At its 21st session, the Human Rights Council considered, under its confidential complaint procedure, the situation of human rights in Eritrea kept pending since its 20th session. The Council decided in accordance with paragraph 109 (d) of its resolution 5/1, to discontinue reviewing the human rights situation in Eritrea under its confidential complaint procedure in order to take up public consideration of the same in the context of the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 20/20. The Council adopted a confidential resolution on Eritrea and decided to make it public as Human Rights Council resolution 21/1…The Council decided that the documentation it considered under its complaint procedure relating to the situation of human rights in Eritrea should no longer be considered confidential, with the exception of the names or any other identifying information of specific individuals who not consented, and should therefore be transmitted to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea…”

It should be recalled that in 2011, there was a document submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by a group called Jubilee Campaign. As someone who has closely followed anti-Eritrea campaigns by “Christian” groups such as Strategic World Impact, Voice of the Martyrs, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Jubilee Campaign, Release International and the many Eritrean surrogates that have mushroomed in cyber space since 2000, it was not hard to guess who was behind it.

Within days of that Jubilee Campaign submission to the UN, the mercenary minority regime in Ethiopia was shedding crocodile tears and making statements on behalf of the Eritrean people. Eritreans have become accustomed to the minority regime’s wailings and non-descript NGOs with absolutely no constituents (except in the EQL) to purport to speak on behalf of the Eritrean people.

The “cut and paste” contents of the 5-page report to the UN was a continuation of the 12-year long campaign against the people and government of Eritrea by Amnesty International and its partners. Notwithstanding the fact that Jubilee Campaign was in violation of the UN’s own rules and had repeatedly abused its “consultative status”, there was nothing new in the report. The underhandedness and attempt to corrupt the UN process is evident in its futile attempt to conceal the status of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). For those who do not know, CSW lost its “consultative status” for its campaign of vilification and defamation against the Government and people of Sudan in 1999 and it has yet to be re-instated but its anti-Eritrea agendas persist.Mussie Zerai

A “Christian” news outlets reported on the actions taken by the UN Human Rights Council against the State of Eritrea in 2012, it said:

“…On Friday 6 July, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted its first resolution on Eritrea, approving the mandate for a Special Rapporteur who will report to the HRC and the UN General Assembly on the human rights situation in Eritrea. This is the result of much work by a group of NGOs led by Christian Solidarity Worldwide…The groundbreaking resolution, submitted by Somalia, Nigeria and Djibouti and supported by a number of African and other states, was adopted by consensus at the 20th session of the HRC and was greeted with applause. Elsa Chyrum, Director of Human Rights Concern-Eritrea, thanked all present on behalf of the Eritrean people. This is the first time that African states have spearheaded a resolution on another African state…”

Eritrea rejected the resolution and said that the UN HRC was flouting “the Council’s impartiality and admissibility criteria” as the outcome was not a result of “impartial process of fact gathering and ascertaining”.  Eritrea was not been given the opportunity to provide essential information and evidence, and what it has been able to present in the very limited time was “ignored”. The whole process was “carried in a hasty manner” and was “based on a biased approach of swallowing the charges by Eritrea’s detractors and ignoring Eritrea’s replies and evidence”. The manner with which the UN rapporteur was appointed is also suspect.

The selection of the Rapporteur preceded the decision to conduct an investigative mission in Eritrea. The HRC should not have considered Sheila Keetharuth from the onset, as her background and close association with the minority regime in Ethiopia, and the Eritrean groups opposed to the Government of Eritrea made her prone to bias and she ought to have been eliminated from the candidate list. The Rapporteur chosen should have been one that was not deposed to a political finding, competent and not committed to a perceived outcome-in the case of the Rapporteur on Eritrea, both criteria were ignored. Keetharuth does not appreciate the distinction between factual findings in the domain of human rights, as opposed to a political findings.

The duplicity and hypocrisy and the political corruption and bullying of UN member states in order to advance illicit political agendas has now become common practice at the United Nations and its various organs-further eroding states’ confidence in the UN System and its purported principles of sovereign equality human rights. The African Union and other regional organizations have not fared any better. Suffice it to mention a few recent examples as they relate to Eritrea:

  • While Susan E. Rice was serving as US Ambassador to the United Nations, her office arranged for Tsedal Yohannes to address the UN Security Council. She is the sister-in-law of Petros Solomon, one of the G-11 who are detained in Eritrea for crimes against the State of Eritrea and its people. This person, and other members of her family, has also been given access and forum to the EU and other forums arranged for her by European and US NGOs. She is advocating on behalf of her family members-no problem there and no one can fault her for trying. It is one thing to advocate for family members, but a completely different mater to drag the entire nations down whilst doing so. Calling for the diplomatic, economic and political isolation of Eritrea, stopping development aid and sanctions against the State of Eritrea is unacceptable.
  • When the President of Eritrea, H.E. Isaias Afwerki asked to address the UN Security Council (UNSC) on issues relating to the sanctions against his country and people, Rice deliberately delayed the issuing of his visa and prevented him from addressing the UNSC, but made arrangements for Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, and other IGAD members to address the UNSC via video conference. So much for impartiality & neutrality.
  • Members of the EQL, who represent a handful of families and with virtually no constituents in Eritrea or in the Diaspora, are allowed to present damning reports on Eritrea to the UN Human Rights Council and other UN forums, but Ms. Luul Gebreab, President of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW), an organization that represents over 200000 members in Eritrea and in the Diaspora, is denied a visa to enter the United States and attend sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and present her on behalf of the Eritrean people. The US claimed that it had run out of “visa stamps”…yet it grants landing visas to runaway defectors and disgruntled diplomats who abandon their countries. By the way…it is the same tactic that the minority regime in Ethiopia used to keep Eritrea’s voice out of the African Union.
  • The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) took on the case of the G-11 and journalists detained in Eritrea, but refused to consider the case of the 80,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin who were deported from Ethiopia at the height of the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict. The case against the Government of Eritrea was filed by Mussie Ephrem of the Movement for Democratic Change (relative of Herui Tedla). Without conducting a thorough investigation, it rendered a decision against the State of Eritrea. Eritrea has rejected the ACHPR decisions as it has the UN HRC’s decision because they both violate the rules that govern their mandates and violate Eritrea’s right to due process.

Launching a vilification and defamation campaign against the Government and people of Eritrea, the EQL sought to hijack Eritrea’s political, economic and social development. The political manipulation evidenced in the last 13 years is unprecedented and served to raise the awareness of the Eritrean people and to vigilantly stop their recklessness. Rejected by the people of Eritrea everywhere, especially in the vast Diaspora, the EQL turned to western institutions such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) etc. to amplify and lend credibility to their illicit campaigns.Elsa Chyrum (Human Rights activist)

Working in tandem with the frightened, frustrated minority regime in Ethiopia, the EQL’s desperate 13 year campaign to blemish Eritrea’s image culminated first in the illegal, unfair and unjust US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions in 2009, and then adoption of Resolution A/HRC/RES/20/20 (without a vote) in 2012. The Resolution was sponsored by Djibouti, Nigeria and Somalia at the 20th session of the UN Human Rights Council in July 2012… once again at the behest of the United States and Ethiopia.

The UN Commission on Human Rights ought to have used some discretion and due regard to the political implications inherently obvious in choosing a person with such anti-Eritrea background to serve as Rapporteur. A cursory look at her background shows that:

As Director and researcher at Amnesty International (AI), an organization that has been at the center of the 2001-present orchestrated campaigns against the State of Eritrea and its people, she is undoubtedly exposed to the many reports and activities by AI. In July 2002, Keetharuth joined Amnesty International as a Researcher with the Africa Programme (East Africa Team), based at the organization’s Africa Regional Office in Kampala, Uganda. She was the Interim Head of Office until December 2005.

The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) in South Africa met with the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on the situation of human rights in Eritrea Ms. Sheila Keetharuth. The meeting took place on 07 November 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. The EMHDR, whose members include Meron Estefanos, was recruited by Dan Connell and Paulos Tesfagiorgis. They are part of a group of Eritrean students who were sent to South Africa by the Government and people of Eritrea for further studies but decided not to return, claiming fear of politically persecution. They have spent their time in exile churning out reports on behalf of European and US agencies vilifying every sector of the Eritrean society, and targeting Eritrea’s economy. Dan Connell said the EMDHR was “really important” and that “it is playing a constructive role in promoting that set of values…via a radio, putting materials on the website, smuggling materials into the country…”…certainly not Eritrean values…

Keetharuth’s relationship with this group goes back to the days when Keetharuth served as Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA). Simon Weldehaimanot, a founding member of the EMHDR, was hired as an intern at the IHRDA. According to their site:

“…With the generous support of the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) IHRDA hosted in 2008 Simon M Weldehaimanot [Eritrea], who developed and filed the following case…349/07 Simon Weldehaimanot / Eritrea; on the right to free movement, and right of citizens to leave their own country…”

Simon Weldehaimanot, a member of Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMHDR), is a recipient of National Endowment for Democracy (NED) grant and is Simon Weldehaimanotalso someone closely associated the various anti-Eritrea groups such as the EYSC. While he has authored several papers denigrating Eritrea and its legal and other institutions, he has yet to pen a single paper calling on the regime in Ethiopia to abide by its legal and moral obligations under the Algiers Agreements it has signed. Like Meron Estefanos and the others in the EQL, he also travels to Ethiopia often.

Keetharuth’s association with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)[4] is also a matter of public record. It should be recalled that the ACHPR accepted and rendered on two cases brought before it by members of the Eritrean Quislings League. The UN HRC resolution mentions the two cases and Keetharuth has clarified that she intends to make Eritrea to abide by its decision, which the Government of Eritrea has rejected outright on procedural and other grounds.

The International Service for Human Rights recently reported the following statement made by Sheila Keetharuth:

“…In January 2012, the special procedures of both the Human Rights Council and the ACHPR adopted a road map to enhance their collaboration following a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They agreed to regularly and systematically exchange information, consider joint actions including country visits, public statements, press releases, awareness-raising occasions and participate in each other’s events and thematic research. Through attending the ACHPR my intention is to give effect to this agreement…”

How convenient that just a few months later, she is “appointed” as the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Eritrea… It is therefore a disservice to the Council in general, and the people of Eritrea in particular, to continue to present Keetharuth as an “independent” Rapporteur, when her past and present activities against the State of Eritrea show otherwise.

NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch with their Eritrean surrogates in tow have conducted a vicious 13-year long campaign against the State of Eritrea and its people. Together with the EQL, every institution in Eritrean society has come under attack. They began with maligning the President of Eritrea and the leadership, then proceeded to attack Eritrea’s religious institutions, education system and now the latest campaign is designed to undermine Eritrea’s Defense Forces.

The Eritrean Diaspora was not spared either and from labeling them “cash cows”, “propagandists for the regime”, to “terrorists” etc. etc. the members of the Eritrean Diaspora Communities have been harassed, intimidated, and violated. Their properties have been vandalized and their members physically abused. The Eritrean Diaspora has been actively engaged during the struggle for Eritrea’s independence, and in post Eritrea’s economic and political development. From conducting the referendum for independence to the writing of the Eritrean Constitution, this conscious population has never engaged in underhanded and corrupt behaviors as is being witnessed in the EQL and other Ethiopia sponsored groups. The attacks on the Eritrean Diaspora have taken many forms, including violence, harassment and intimidation, disrupting community events, vandalism and more.

Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

“…condemn[s] all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one color or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form…”

It is immoral for human rights organizations, AND the western media and UN officials to use phrases such as “North Korea of Africa”, “Hitler’s Y-PFDJ” in their media and anti-Eritrea campaigns, reports etc. etc. It is one thing to present substantiated evidence, but to deliberately tarnish the reputation and image of Eritrea and Eritreans, in order to advance a narrow and myopic political agenda is unacceptable.

A news article[5] which features an omnipresent anti-Eritrea “activist” closely associated with Elsa Chyrum and Meron Estefanos and other members of the EQL reported the following:

Khataza Gondwe“…Khataza Gondwe of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says that the families of the captives are forced to listen to their screams via the telephone and send ransoms of up to $40,000 to set them free. ‘Small wonder people hearing the screams sell everything they have and borrow to the hilt to pay the ransom and end such appalling suffering,’…Gondwe points out that Eritrea is often referred to as the North Korea of Africa…”

Another staple in the anti-Eritrea campaigns is Mirjam van Reisen of the European External Policy Advisors (EEPA) who has made it her raison d’etre to blemish Eritrea’s image. Reisen is also behind the calls for economic sanctions against the State of Eritrea and has organized many forums in which she has campaigned to prevent the European Union from providing development aid to Eritrea[6]. Reisen, supposedly fighting for human rights of Eritreans, has used defamatory and racist language to define Eritrea’s leadership. Here is one of her xenophobic statements about Eritrea:

“…Eritrea can be considered the ‘North Korea of Africa’. President Isaias Afewerki is the head of state and head of the only political party, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF)…”

Mirjam van Reisen (Director of EEPA)

Gondwe and Reisen activists that explicitly promote hate crimes, xenophobia and political exclusion cannot speak on behalf of the Eritrean people, any more than the miscreants in their employ. These derogatory and inflammatory terms are immoral and employed for emotive goals; they should not be invoked by human rights groups claiming to operate with a human rights framework. Spreading hate and xenophobia is not the work of human rights.

In May 1968, ECOSOC Resolution 1296 (XLIV) specified that NGOs:

“…should have a generalinternational concern with this matter, not restricted to the interests of a particular group of persons, a single nationality or the situation in a single State…”

It is a matter of public record that NGOs such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), European External Policy Advisors (EEPA), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have advanced the interests of a select group of Eritreans and their sponsor, the minority regime in Ethiopia-as opposed to the interests of Eritrea and its people. These individuals and groups have also benefited from their 12-year long efforts against the people of Eritrea as evidenced by the many resume padding activities listed and books written on Eritrea.

Presentation of the book-The lasting Struggle for Freedom in EritreaThe substantive provisions of that resolution[7] that determined in advance Eritrea’s guilt, both underwrite from the start, the tenor and orientation of the Rapporteurs mission. The fact that this exercise emanated from, and is directed by a few nations on the UN Human Rights Council, such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and the US, and from politically motivated individuals and groups who have an ax to grind with the Government of Eritrea, only adds to the questionable nature of Rapporteurs mandate and retracts from any semblance of credibility and reliability. Any expectation and anticipation of impartiality, objectivity, transparency, and professionalism was absent from the get go and with time, exposed the real agenda.

Keetharuth’s report presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2013 was based entirely on material submitted by Amnesty International and other international non-governmental organizations known for their anti-Eritrea agenda, and whose biased reports are based on information laundered by the EQL through its many cyber groups, compromised refugees and asylum seekers in Djibouti and Ethiopia. Hardly an impartial grouping… the Resolution adopted then was also drafted by Amnesty International. Keetharuth’s report was an insult to the UN as a whole and to its Human Rights Council. It was also an insult to the people and government of Eritrea, in particular, and to the intellect of all those who read it in the false expectation that it is authoritative and credible.

Resolution A/HRC/20/20 of the Human Rights Council, the appointment of this particular Rapporteur, her mandate, and substantive content are, from the outset, based on a premise that considers Eritrea guilty without providing evidence for the many allegations and deliberate misrepresentations and exaggerations of the realities in Eritrea, “cut and paste” from documents provided by Amnesty International, and other anti-Eritrea NGOs. This premise dictates the one-sided and prejudiced nature of the Rapporteur’s June 2013 report. It is therefore a disservice to the Council in general, and the people of Eritrea in particular, to continue to present Keetharuth as an “independent” Rapporteur, when her past and present activities against the State of Eritrea show otherwise.

Today, Sheila Keetharuth, who believes she can use the media and access to forums to influence public opinion against the State of Eritrea, its government and people, has once again issued Press Release, this time it has to do with her “findings” in Tunisia where she went to talk to Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, presumably to corroborate the allegations against Eritrea found in the Resolution that led to her appointment. After visiting Djibouti and Ethiopia in April 2013, again to talk to refugee and asylum seekers, she made similar statements in her June 2013 Report to the UN Human Rights Council. As one astute observer stated in a Tweeter message:

“…The UN rapporteur on Eritrea is a veritable loose cannon. She routinely dishes out her premature “findings” before validation by the Council…”

Having relied so entirely on one-sided findings, statements form asylum seekers in Ethiopia, Djibouti and elsewhere, and statements from members of the EQL one may wonder how the Rapporteur could logically claim to have been guided by “the principles of ‘do no harm,’ independence, impartiality, objectivity, discretion, transparency, confidentiality, integrity and professionalism.” Keetharuth’s fact-finding reports blatantly violated best practices in human rights investigations, such as the Lund-London guidelines that mandate reports be “clearly objective and properly sourced”, but it seems she has not yet learned her lesson and is doomed to repeat her mistakes in 2014.

So much for objective sourcing…

Sheila Keetharuts’s actions violate the principles of impartiality, non-selectivity and objectivity that govern the work of Special Rapporteurs. In addition, her statements at the various forums she attended during her recent stay in New York City in November 2013 are examples of her blatant bias, lack of objectivity and unprofessional conduct and expose her real agenda against the State of Eritrea. What is the point of meeting with “asylum seekers” and “refugees” except to gather one-sided accusations and allegations which seem to be compatible with her aims, rather than their validity? In her addition, her meetings with members of the EQL and refusing to meet with members of the wider Eritrean Community (the 99%) says a lot about her objectivity and methodology.normal_TraffickingCycle_EP_4_December_2013_Estefanos_vanreisen

Issuing such a slanted and biased report in June 2013 to the UN human Rights Council, and downplaying the issue of the occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories by Ethiopia, the illegal unfair and unjust sanctions imposed against Eritrea at the behest of the US and Ethiopia in December 2009, was an attempt by the Rapporteur, to implant within the international community an incorrect and inaccurate view of a complex reality in Eritrea, to steer the debate away from the underlying cause of insecurity in the Horn region, Ethiopia’s violations of the rights of the Eritrean people by continuing to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.

The Eritrean people struggled for over 30 years to free themselves from the clutches of Ethiopian colonization and in defense of Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the 1998-2000 aggressive Ethiopian war of expansion and occupation. The people of Eritrea do not need lessons on human rights and freedoms from anyone, least of all these self-serving individuals and groups, or the Ethiopian regime. The Eritrean people championed that cause, long before it became fashionable and profitable, and long before the EQL considered it a lucrative endeavor.

The Special Rapporteur on Eritrea should recuse herself and the UN HRC should annul her politically motivated appointment, and should not validate her biased and unprofessional reports as:

  • Keetharuth’s report makes serious allegations about a state engaged in lawful self-defense, while letting the aggressor, the minority regime in Ethiopia, completely off the hook. Ethiopia’s continued occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories in violation of international law, over a dozen UN Security Council Resolutions and the final and binding decisions of the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions of 2002 and 2007 respectively, and the resultant political stalemate, present a unique and highly complex situation, that requires sober analysis and understanding.
  • Keetharuth should have striven to be independent and give a fair hearing to all interests affected and report fairly to the Council, not omitting anything that is relevant to be taken into account, or giving weight to anything that is not relevant. She did not.
  • Keetharuth’s exaggerated politically motivated accusations against Eritrea which undermine the history and culture of its people, should not be accepted at face value, and must be tested against credible evidence that is independently verifiable. soft-power of groups, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and their surrogates in the EQL, who are not subject to any democratic accountability and they should not be assisted by the UN HRC to carry out their political agendas using human rights as a pretext.
  • Keetharuth’s report which is bases on a series of actions by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the newly established European External Policy Advisors (EEPA) evince a pattern of selective treatment of Eritrea. Partisan allegations from NGOs should not be taken at face value.

Even without the cooperation of the government of Eritrea (quite understandable in light of the biased mandate and procedural errors by the UN HRC), one might have expected, if only out of concern for her own credibility, impartiality and objectivity, that the Rapporteur would, at the minimum, have consulted with the over 300 Eritrean Diaspora communities who represent the 99% whose voices are ignored by the western NGO and media, in order to verify the one-sided allegations and accusations. Keetharuth did not. She instead regurgitated tired old unsubstantiated allegations against the Government and people of Eritrea made by the Ethiopian regime and its surrogates.

Had Keetharuth been truly guided by the above principles, and had she been genuinely impartial, objective, discrete, transparent, professional and with integrity, as the UN HRC presumed her to be, her report would have reflected the views of the over 300 Eritrean Diaspora Communities that sent her letters and requested to meet with her, and the views of the government of Eritrea, provided to her at various international forums, including in Geneva. In light of the one-sided nature of the her work thus far, she should recuse herself as it has become evident that she cannot not meet the very standards of impartiality that is required in order to fulfill her mandate.

Human Rights work in Eritrea is not a blue collar profession and the responsibility to protect and defend human rights is not the purview of a select individuals and self-serving NGOs. Everyone in Eritrea is working striving to achieve the civic, economic, social and political rights of all Eritreans. Using human rights as a pretext to advance ulterior political agendas, denying the people of Eritrea the right to live in peace within their own internationally recognized borders, trafficking of Eritrea’s youth to thwart Eritrea’s development are gross violations that should not be condoned by the UN HRC, lest it too finds itself in the same predicament as that of its predecessor…Eritrea will not be deterred…

Despite the efforts of those who seek to silence and subjugate…Eritrea will be heard and today… there are millions of listeners…

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2 Responses to ERITREA: UN Rapporteur ought to recuse herself and UN HRC should annul her politically motivated mandate

  1. Pingback: UN Rapporteur Ought to Recuse Herself and UNHRC Should Annul Her Politically Motivated Mandate | TesfaNews

  2. Afework Yohannes says:

    Keep up telling it as it should be told.

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