Petition to highlight the human rights situation and prison conditions in Eritrea sign now

Petition to highlight the human rights situation and prison conditions in Eritrea

In Eritrea today thousands of people find themselves in prisons and detention centres throughout the country without due process of law. They are neither formally charged nor given the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.

All basic and fundamental freedoms; freedom of thought, expression, association and worship are severely curbed. People are arbitrarily snatched from the streets, their work place, their homes and their place of worship for unknown reasons and detained incommunicado for an unspecified length of time.

There are countless prisons around the country many have never been designed for the purpose and therefore are not equipped with necessary facilities. Prison camps and holding places can be;

Dangerously and fatally overcrowded; as did happen in Adi-abeyto, where compounds that have no sanitation and no form of protection from the harsh climatic conditions are used to hold thousands indiscriminately.
Unfit for human habitation; this includes shipment containers that get oven hot during the day in the sub-Saharan temperatures and freezing cold at night. Prisoners are only ever allowed out for a maximum of 20 min a day to relieve themselves. Nearly all prisons in the country lack appropriate sanitation facilities putting prisoners at risk of deadly infectious diseases.
Appropriate medical care is not available; prescription dependent prisoners have been deprived of medication. Those prisoners with long-term medical conditions are particularly at risk as appropriate follow up and care is not forthcoming. Even the elderly and vulnerable are held under these harsh conditions.
Some of the camps are hard labour prison camps, where inmates are required to be engaged in highly demanding physical work without appropriate monitoring, equipments or even enough food. Malnutrition is a persistent hazard. A distinction is not made between those who are physically able and those that are not, those who are physically and medically unfit are not shown any discretions.
Those who die in detention are buried unceremoniously and their loved ones are seldom informed.
International and national human rights organisations are not allowed any form of independent monitoring.

Article 19 of the Eritrean Constitution allows for freedom of conscience, religion, movement, assembly, organisation and expression of opinion. Moreover, in Article 17, the Constitution stipulates the right to a fair and public trial, the presumption of innocence and the right of appeal. It also states that anyone arrested should be brought before a court of law within 48 hours of their arrest, while the Eritrean Penal Code states that once arrested, a person should be charged within 28 days or released.

Eritrea has also acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, all of which contain provisions for basic human rights that are being trampled by the appalling situation stated above.

We, undersigned, therefore ask your Holiness to use your good offices to bear pressure on the Eritrean Authorities to release all illegally detained Eritreans and to also urge the international community, the UN Security Council, the European Union and the government of the United States of America to set up and send an independent Commission to inspect the conditions in all the official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

Thank you.

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Gene EatonBy:
People and OrganizationsIn:
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Pope Benedict XVI & International Community

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