June 28, 2016
On June 8, 2016, the three-member Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea released its 2nd and final report that suggested Eritrea, essentially, is not and never was a legitimate nation. This conclusion is a full-frontal assault on the nation of Eritrea and its people, to say the least.
We know a number subversive Eritrean groups, closely tied with the US and Ethiopian governments, have contributed to the report, which includes certain former top Eritrean officials who now lead “opposition groups” based in Europe. We have seen their meeting schedules and photos, heard their testimonies, and noticed a great deal of similarities as it relates to their talking points.
As strange as it sounds, the COI report stated, in an unmistakable manner, that acts of crimes against humanity in Eritrea began from the day Eritrea was liberated. The report essentially states that Eritrea has been a lawless state since May 1991, where rape and murder has been occurring with impunity (p.46). The three-person panel doubled down on this by stating that Eritrean institutions such as the military, National Service, Judiciary, Banking, etc. are fraudulent schemes to enslave the entire population.
Legally speaking, these accusations/conclusions are so expansive that anyone who is and was ever part of the Eritrean government could be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, for crimes against humanity.
It’s likely the UN Human Rights Council will not accept the report as is because the arguments COI presented are not only baseless, but also contain poorly thought-out procedures which pose huge risks to the council and the court. But, if the UN Human Rights Council accepts the report, in whole or in part, any Eritrean asylum seeker in Europe would be able to initiate a case in any European court by naming former government officials residing within the European Union (EU).
Why former government officials? Asylum seekers and their lawyers are known for going after low-hanging fruit to make their case. All former government officials who now live in the EU are going to be “sitting ducks,” easy prey for the thousands of lawyers whose asylum cases are going to be heard in EU courts. It’s a lot easier for European courts to depose EU residents to obtain their sworn testimony. This could literally occur right away according to some lawyers I spoke with in Spain and Portugal, in which an asylum seeker could file a case in any EU court by presenting the COI report as proof, and name former government officials residing anywhere in the EU as a defendant. Clearly, human rights abuse is a serious charge in the EU and the COI report ought to be concerning for these former government officials residing in Europe without diplomatic protections, especially those who are visibly operating as “scholars”, “activists”, “opposition leaders”, etc.
Of course, human rights accusations and cases are no slam dunk, but they drag on for years. Again, asylum seekers don’t have anything to lose and can afford to ride out the ups and downs of their case for years as they continue to remain in Europe. On the other hand, defendants without diplomatic protections can’t afford to have a criminal case hanging on their necks for years, denying in open court all alleged claims of rape and murder they are accused of being complicit in.
We are not going to know the full effects of the COI until things “hit the fan,” as they say. We just know that in the first few years the unintended consequences of the COI will be far worse than those intended.