[JURIST] A UN commission on Monday reported widespread human rights abuses [transcript] in Eritrea. Following a four-month investigation of the country’s human rights situation, the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea [official website] found instances of torture and a high number of detentions. Many Eritrean citizens survive on less than two dollars a day. The Commission’s Chair, Mike Smith, stated that “Most Eritreans have no hope for their future.” The Commission’s oral report, presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], shed light on the fact that hundreds of Eritreans flee their country every day. While tens of thousands reside in neighboring countries, a large number attempt to cross the Mediterranean in small boats to reach Europe.
Approximately 300,000 Eritrean refugees fled the country in 2012 alone, and the UN Refugee Agency has estimated [UNHCR report] that between two and three thousand people attempt to escape every month, though the journey is often life-threatening. The UNHRC adopted a resolution [JURIST report] establishing the commission of inquiry in June. Last March the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] reported Eritrea as one of the top ten of refugee origination countries[JURIST report] of those seeking asylum in an industrialized country. In November 2013 UN Special Rapporteur Sheila Keetharuth [official website] urged [JURIST report] the Eritrean government to respect its obligation to human rights, and called for protection for the hundreds of thousands of citizens currently fleeing the country for safety.