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ERITREA
CASE N° ERI/01 - OGBE ABRAHA
CASE N° ERI/02 - ASTER FISSEHATSION
CASE N° BERHANE GEBREGZIABEHER
CASE N° ERI/04 - BERAKI GEBRESELASSIE
CASE N° ERI/05 - HAMAD HAMID HAMAD
CASE N° ERI/06 - SALEH KEKIYA
CASE N° ERI/07 - GERMANO NATI
CASE N° ERI/08 - ESTIFANOS SEYOUM
CASE N° ERI/09 - MAHMOUD AHMED SHERIFFO
CASE N° ERI/10 - PETROS SOLOMON
CASE N° ERI/11 - HAILE WOLDETENSAE
Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 174rd session (Mexico, 23 April 2004)


The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of the above-mentioned parliamentarians of Eritrea, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/174/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution it adopted at its 173rd session (October 2003),

Taking account of the letter dated 9 April 2004 from the Ambassador of the State of Eritrea to the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, Mr. Andebrhan Weldegiorgis; taking also account of the information provided by the source on 5 April 2004,

Recalling that the former MPs in question were arrested on 18 September 2001, after having published, together with others, an open letter in May 2001 calling for democratic reform; they have since been held incommunicado without having been brought before a judge and without any charge having been laid against them; whereas the authorities claim that the Government has reliable evidence that the persons concerned perpetrated grave acts "against the security and sovereignty of the State at a critical moment when its survival was threatened by a brutal aggression", the source affirms that the allegations of treason have never been clarified or substantiated; it specified in this respect that it was reportedly claimed that, during major military setbacks in May 2001, some of the MPs concerned, who were not named, had requested the international peace talks facilitators (the United States and Algeria) to convey an offer to the Ethiopian Government to remove the President if Ethiopia would halt its offensive; however, the peace talks facilitators have categorically denied that any such offer was ever made,

Recalling that, according to the authorities and as stated in Ambassador Weldegiorgis's letter of 9 April, the extreme sensitivity of aspects of this case, "arising from the implication of foreign powers in a plot to oust the President of the State, could have external ramifications and a negative impact on the peace process" if publicly exposed during trial proceedings; the former MPs concerned could therefore be brought to trial once the peace process has been completed; noting in this respect that the peace process seems to be far from completion, owing mainly to the obstacles encountered in the border demarcation process, as referred to by the United Nations Security Council in its statement of 17 July 2003 and by the United Nations Secretary-General in his latest report on Ethiopia and Eritrea of September 2003,

Recalling further that, while the authorities have repeatedly stated that the former MPs concerned are held in humane conditions and receive the medical care they need, the source fears that they are at risk of ill-treatment since they are held incommunicado at an unknown location; moreover, there are unconfirmed reports that Mr. Abraha may have died,

Considering that, at its 33rd session (May 2003), the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), declared admissible a complaint concerning the situation of the former MPs concerned and, at its 34th session (November 2003), found the State of Eritrea in breach of Articles 2 (entitlement without discrimination to the enjoyment of human rights enshrined in the Charter), 6 (right to liberty and security of person), 7(1) (right to fair trial) and 9(2) (right to freedom of expression) of the ACHPR; in reaching its conclusions, the Commission noted that it had not received any information or substantiation from the Respondent State demonstrating that the 11 persons were being held in appropriate detention facilities and that they had been produced before courts of law; moreover, the facts as presented left the African Commission in no doubt that the Respondent State had indeed restricted the 11 persons' right to free expression (a right which cannot be derogated from under the African Charter); the Commission urged the State of Eritrea to order the immediate release of the 11 detainees and recommended that the State of Eritrea compensate them,

Recalling that, in response to its request to carry out an on-site mission, the authorities replied that such a mission would be considered an interference in internal affairs,

Bearing in mind that the Constitution of Eritrea, in its Articles 15, 17 and 19, guarantees the right to liberty and to freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right for any detained person to be brought before a court of law within 48 hours of arrest and the right to freedom of expression, being rights also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, to both which Eritrea is a party,

  1. Thanks the Ambassador of the State of Eritrea to the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain for the information and clarifications he provided;

  2. Takes note of the decision given in November 2003 in this case by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, ruling that the human rights of the former MPs concerned have been violated; deeply regrets that the authorities have so far not heeded the Commission's decision and continue to detain them in disregard of their obligations not only under the Constitution of Eritrea, but also under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the ICCPR;

  3. Affirms that the peace process under way can in no way justify such violation of human rights, which on the contrary can only harm that process;

  4. Urges therefore the authorities to heed the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and to release the former MPs concerned without delay;

  5. Reiterates its decision to carry out an on-site mission to gather from the competent authorities and the persons concerned as much information as possible on this case, and stresses in this respect that it is a well-established doctrine that human rights matters are of international concern and that ensuring their respect is a duty incumbent upon the international community;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to contact the authorities again to seek their agreement to an on-site mission to be carried out as early as possible;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 111th Assembly (September-October 2004).

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