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UN human rights expert meets with Eritrean refugees and migrants in Belgium

GENEVA (9 March 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, today started an official visit to Belgium (9-11 March) to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees and migrants on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Since 2014, Ms. Keetharuth has carried out similar information-gathering missions to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Malta and Tunisia.

“Due to lack of access to Eritrea,” she said, “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.”

The human rights expert has made several official requests to visit Eritrea since her appointment in November 2012, which have so far not been granted. She has repeatedly urged the Eritrean authorities to cooperate with her mandate in order to address the country’s human rights challenges.

During her mission, Ms. Keetharuth 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 different sources.

Ms. Keetharuth expressed her appreciation that Belgium has agreed to provide her with access to interview the Eritrean refugees and migrants residing in the country.
The result of her findings, which will be strictly limited to the situation inside Eritrea, will be reflected in her third report to the Human Rights Council in June 2015.

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 latest report to the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/26/L.6): 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 Ms. Abigail Noko (+41 22 928 9446 / anoko@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