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UN human rights expert to meet Eritrean diaspora in Germany and Switzerland

GENEVA (13 March 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, will undertake an official visit to Germany and Switzerland from 17 to 28 March 2014 to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees and migrants on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Since her appointment in November 2012, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit Eritrea, which have so far not been granted. She has repeatedly urged the Eritrean authorities to collaborate with her mandate with a view to addressing its human rights challenges.

“Due to lack of access to Eritrea, I have been engaging with Eritrean refugees and migrants outside of their home country, and all others concerned by human rights in Eritrea, including those who consider themselves to be victims of alleged human rights violations, human rights defenders and other civil society actors,” Ms. Keetharuth said.

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur will interview Eritrean refugees and migrants about the situation of human rights in Eritrea to corroborate allegations of widespread and systematic violations of human rights in Eritrea contained in reports she has received from a variety of interlocutors.

The Special Rapporteur expressed her appreciation that Germany and Switzerland have agreed to provide her with access to interview the Eritrean refugees and migrants residing in those two countries.

The result of her findings, which will be strictly limited to the situation inside Eritrea, will be reflected in her second report to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Sheila B. Keetharuth was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea during the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012.  She took her functions on 1 November 2012.  As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity.  A lawyer from Mauritius, she has extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations, advocacy, training and litigation in human rights in Africa.

UN Human Rights, country page – Eritrea: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/ERIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Birthe Ankenbrand (+41 22 928 9465 / bankenbrand@ohchr.org) or write to sr-eritrea@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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