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News in Brief 6 March 2023

News in Brief 6 March 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Eritrea: human rights situation remains dire amid complete impunity

The human rights situation in Eritrea remains dire and impunity is “complete”, the UN’s deputy human rights chief said on Monday.

Addressing the Human Rights Council, Nada Al-Nashif warned that serious violations of people’s basic freedoms in Eritrea have continued “and show no sign of improvement”.

In addition to the longstanding problem of indefinite military service - which had intensified during the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia - Ms. Al-Nashif insisted that the agreed withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia “remains very slow and largely incomplete”.

“Eritrea has not taken any steps to establish accountability mechanisms for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) in the context of the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia as found by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of our Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Eritrea has rejected the JIT report and has allowed perpetrators in the EDF to act with impunity. There is no genuine prospect that the domestic judicial system will hold perpetrators to account.”

Echoing that assessment, the UN’s independent rights expert for Eritrea expressed his grave concern for the many Eritreans arbitrarily detained, “and some disappeared, in secret prisons, for more than two decades”.

These include 16 journalists, including the Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, last seen over 20 years ago, making them the longest detained journalists in the world, Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker told the Council.

2,000 shelters destroyed in Cox’s Bazar blaze – IOM 

To Bangladesh now, where a large fire has swept through a camp for refugees from Myanmar, destroying homes and the belongings of those affected.

The UN migration agency, IOM, said that some 2,000 bamboo and tarpaulin shelters were turned to ash in the blaze, on Sunday afternoon.

No-one was killed but 12,000 people are now homeless.

The cause of the fire is not known but it is not the first in the sprawling camp complex, including an inferno in March 2021 that killed at least 15 and displaced 50,000.

Last January, two separate fires within a week of each other damaged IOM’s specialist treatment centre for respiratory infections and razed a section of refugee shelters to the ground, affecting 1,700 people.

IOM estimated the cost of restoring services after the latest blaze at $7.4 million.

Peru: UN experts call for end to violence during demonstrations

Continuing violence against political protesters in Peru must stop, UN-appointed independent experts insisted on Monday, amid allegations of repression and arbitrary killings by State security forces.

In an appeal for “genuine dialogue” to resolve the crisis, the experts expressed deep concern about the reported repression, arbitrary killings, arrests, detention and enforced disappearances of demonstrators in Peru.

The situation stems from Congress’s removal of then president, Pedro Castillo on 7 December, after he was accused of trying to dissolve it.

Mr. Castillo remains in pre-trial detention on charges of rebellion and conspiracy. He was replaced by Mrs. Dina Boluarte, who was sworn in as the president of Peru.

“People have the right to protest and raise their concerns about political changes that affect their lives and livelihoods,” the experts said, before warning that Peru’s democracy was “facing a credibility crisis”.

Since the protests began in December 2022, Peru’s Ombudsman has reported that 48 protestors and one law enforcement agent have been killed, while 1,301 people have been injured and hundreds have been arrested.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

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Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
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© UNHCR/Samuel Otieno