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UN human rights expert welcomes release of Eritrean refugees in Djibouti

GENEVA (15 April 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, today hailed the release of all Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom had been held in detention for more than five years at the Nagad Police Academy in Djibouti.

Following joint efforts by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and civil society actors, the Djiboutian Government agreed on Sunday, 13 April 2014, to set free all Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers. The Eritrean Prisoners of War were not included under this measure.

“I welcome the Government of Djibouti’s decision to relocate 266 Eritreans to the UNHCR administered refugee camp in Ali Addeh in the south of the country, some of whom I met during my mission to Djibouti in 2013” Ms. Keetharuth said.

The Special Rapporteur expressed great concern about rampant human rights violations in Eritrea which caused hundreds of thousands to leave their country for an unknown and precarious future.

“I reiterate my call on the international community to grant at least temporary refuge or protection to the more than 300,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, in line with their obligations under international refugee and human rights law,” Ms. Keetharuth stressed.

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. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/ER/Pages/SREritrea.aspx

Check the Special Rapporteur’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=201

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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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en