The European Union on Tuesday voiced concerns over the Eritrean government's continued violation of its human rights obligations under both domestic and international law, highlighting the cases of political prisoners and journalists being held in the country without trial for years.
In a statement issued Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed the European bloc's deep concern over the continued detention without trial of a group of eleven prominent parliament members from the People's Front for Democracy and Justice as well as ten independent journalists, including the Eritrean-Swedish citizen Dawit Isaak, since 2001.
"Despite repeated appeals by the international community, including by the UN Human Rights Council and the European Union, these people have been detained for the last eleven years without any contact with the outside world, and with all rights suspended," the statement said.
Noting that they have been reports about the arrests and detention without trial of several other journalists in the African nation, Ashton said the European Union remains particularly concerned about the reported deaths of some of the political prisoners and the deterioration of the medical situation of others.
Ashton reminded the Eritrean government that continued lack of information on the whereabouts and the access to health care of the detainees were in "clear violation of several human rights obligations, such as the prohibition of arbitrary detention and the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty to be treated with human dignity."
The EU statement noted these are rights enshrined in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been ratified by Eritrea.
"The European Union urges the Government of the State of Eritrea to release these prisoners unconditionally, along with other persons detained for their political views. The European Union requests the Government of the State of Eritrea to make public all information on the whereabouts of these prisoners and to allow them access to their families and lawyers not least on humanitarian grounds," the statement added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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