Eritrea real clear politics's Weblog

March 15, 2010

Who Really Owns the Mainstream Media

Filed under: Media — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 2:30 pm


March 14, 2010

Asylum appeal ends in death

Filed under: News — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 7:17 pm
Asylum appeal ends in death
Eritrean refugee in Halifax commits suicide after losing case to stay in Canada
Sun. Mar 14 – 4:53 AM

Habtom Kibraeb was found dead last month in the Clayton Park area. 

An Eritrean refugee in Halifax killed himself in late February after losing an asylum appeal to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. Habtom Kibraeb, 40, was found dead, hanging from a tree in the Clayton Park area.

Kibraeb had spent several years on the run from Eritrea’s military, says Beku Feshaye, who owns Kilimanjaro Café, a store on Titus Street in Halifax.

Feshaye and fellow Eritrean Nazareth Yemane, a radio show host on CKDU 88.1 FM, raised the money to bail out Kibraeb when he was detained by the Canada Border Services. Feshaye also offered him shelter while his asylum appeal was being processed.

Kibraeb arrived in Halifax from Germany in August 2008. To board the plane that brought him here, he used a fake passport, with a forged signature, that was sold to him by an agent in Germany. While on the plane he shredded the document.

Upon landing he told immigration officers he had destroyed the passport, produced his military ID and asked for asylum.

He was jailed, but later released on the bail provided by Feshaye and Yemane.

Eritrea’s government is led by Isaias Afewerki, the leader of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front during the Ethiopia-Eritrea war that was fought between 1961 and 1991.

But since winning the war and taking power, Afewerki’s government has allegedly turned totalitarian. Its military has been accused of thousands of human rights violations, and torture and sexual abuse in the army is reportedly horrifying.

Bahlbi Malk, a refugee from Eritrea who lives in Halifax, says he has heard reports of sexual abuse, helicopter torture, underground detention and beatings going on in Eritrean military camps.

Such conditions have forced thousands of Eritrean youth to flee the country.

“In 2008, some 68,000 Eritreans entered Europe as refugees. Many perished while crossing the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea,” Malk says.

He says Eritrean youth flee their homeland for two main reasons: indefinite military conscription without pay and economic deprivation.

Kibraeb joined the EPLF in 1988, at the age of 18, to fight for Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia. He joined Eritrea’s military when the EPLF took over the reins of government, rising to the rank of captain.

Kibraeb made formal requests to leave the military but was sent to jail for re-education instead, says local immigration lawyer Lee Cohen, founder of the Halifax Refugee Clinic.

When he was finally transferred to a border post, Kibraeb saw the chance for a new life. He slipped across the border in 2006. His road to Canada was not a smooth one. He was jailed in Libya and again in Malta.

Investigators from the Canada Border Services concluded that Kibraeb couldn’t enter this country because Eritrea’s military is deemed by Canada as a violator of human rights.

Although Kibraeb said he no longer supported their ideology, his voluntary entry into the EPLF, his rank in the military and the long years of service were factors that led the border service to deny him entry, says Julie Chamagne, executive director of the Halifax Refugee Clinic.

“It’s not a valid judgment,” she says. “The notions of duress and of forced conscription were not taken into account.”

An Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada rule that prohibits lawyers from counselling clients during investigations was another factor, says Cohen.

“A refugee may neither have English language skills nor an understanding of the legal process. That being said, those rules limit the fair outcome of a case,” he says. “There were controversial statements made by the client. But if he had the benefit of counsel, that could have changed things.”

Losing the asylum appeal meant that Kibraeb would be deported, something he dreaded because Eritrea does not have an exit policy. Anyone who returns there after fleeing the country is charged and faces a possible death sentence, says Malk.

Feshaye remembers Kibraeb telling him before his death that a military captain would probably be tortured before being shot by a firing squad.

The Geneva Convention on Refugees deems that a refugee may not be deported to his country of origin if there is a well-founded fear of persecution, torture or death upon return. But Cohen says claims of fear of death are so commonplace at refugee hearings that, as it was in Kibraeb’s case, it is often not taken seriously.

“On the other hand, he was not yet determined to be a refugee,” Cohen says.

The night before he committed suicide, Kibreab was asked to report to the Canada Border Services the next day. There, according to Cohen, he was to receive his deportation orders.

Cohen believes Kibreab’s case was “wrongly decided.” He was hopeful for a judicial review but by then Kibraeb had given up hope for a new life, something he had pursued since his flight out of Eritrea four years before. Instead he chose to take control of his life and his death.

“The fact that he chose to end his life on a snowstorm day underlines the point that his fear of being shot by a firing squad on return to his country was real,” Cohen says.

Robin Arthur is publisher of TouchBase, a monthly newspaper distributed throughout the Maritimes.


   96 votes



FRET wrote:
This story is closed to comments. I am sorry we could not help this man but the fact is we can not help every person needing it.
macwallers wrote:
This is such a sad story, but not really surprising. Our immigration system needs a serious overhaul – we sell citizenship to those that can afford it, not grant it to those that deserve it. If Habtom Kibraeb had had $100 000 to “donate” to the sponsorship programme, he would have been welcomed in NS with open arms. Instead, as a poor refugee from a totalitarian regime, we decide to deport him. The fact that he might have faced torture and death upon his return to country of origin apparently isn’t good enough. And yes, the Canadian government has access to security information on Eritrea: it is on many watch lists for human rights violations. My condolences to Mr. Kibraeb’s friends and family. He deserved better.
macwallers wrote:

March 13, 2010

US report accuses Eritrea of systematic abuses

Filed under: News — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 6:04 pm

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US report accuses Eritrea of systematic abuses

Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:04am GMT

By Jeremy Clarke

ASMARA (Reuters) – The United States has intensified its criticism of Eritrea, saying the Red Sea state systematically abuses human rights and is a destabilising influence in the Horn of Africa.

In its annual human rights country report, released late on Thursday, the U.S. State Department accused Eritrea of sponsoring terrorism in the Horn of Africa, and acting as a source and conduit for arms to insurgents in Somalia.

It said Asmara oversaw unlawful killings by its security forces, routine beatings and torture, arbitrary arrests, and severely restricted freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association and religion.

“(Throughout 2009) consistent and systemic gross human rights violations persisted unabated at the government’s behest,” the report said.

Citing a June report by the U.N. Munitions Monitoring Group, it said the Red Sea state was guilty of sponsoring terrorism in the Horn of Africa.

The State Department report went on: “The government acted as a principal source and conduit for arms to antigovernment, extremist, and insurgent groups in Somalia.”

Asmara says there is no concrete evidence for the allegations, accusing Washington of inventing statistics and interfering in the region, and blames years of intrusive U.S. foreign policy as a cause of the conflict in Somalia.


Ties between the United States and Eritrea have been severely strained by a series of accusations and counter-accusations.

In February, the U.S. embassy suspended its consular services and last week issued a travel warning, referring to a rise in anti-U.S. sentiment among Eritreans. Eritrea then accused Washington of trying to create chaos in the country..

Asmara has still not officially recognised the U.S. ambassador and the state-owned media are running a sustained campaign against what they say are decades of U.S. persecution.

The United States sees Eritrea as an enemy in the fight against Islamist radicalisation, alleging support for the al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al Shabaab.

U.S. prosecutors said this week an Eritrean arrested in Nigeria was brought to New York to face charges after receiving bomb-making training from al Shabaab.

The United States bankrolled Eritrea’s regional rival Ethiopia during its long occupation of Eritrea, a memory that still rankles among Eritreans when ties with Washington start to go cold.

The occupation ended in the early 1990s when the outnumbered Eritreans fought Ethiopia and won independence.

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Security Council Report Over Somalia and Eritrea

Filed under: Report — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 5:45 am

March 2010

Expected Council Action • Key Recent Developments • Key Issues • Options • Council Dynamics • Selected UN Documents • Other Relevant Facts • Additional Useful SourcesOther SRC Reports on Somalia

Expected Council Action
In March the Council is expected to focus primarily on the Somalia sanctions regime. The Sanctions Monitoring Group is due to report to the Sanctions Committee before its current mandate expires on 20 March. It may also provide information and recommendations regarding the sanctions imposed by the Council on Eritrea in December 2009. Proposals of additional names for targeted sanctions are also possible. The Committee has still not designated any individuals or entities for targeted sanctions despite the fact that it is now 15 months since it was given the power to do so.  

The Council is expected to adopt a resolution extending the Monitoring Group mandate and consolidating its tasks. A request to the Secretary-General to expand its capacity with additional experts is also likely. 
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Key Recent Developments
On 23 December 2009 the Council adopted resolution 1907, imposing an arms embargo on Eritrea. The resolution also established targeted sanctions (travel ban and assets freeze) on individuals or entities that violate the arms embargo, provide support from Eritrea to armed groups seeking to destabilise the region or obstruct implementation of resolution 1862  concerning Djibouti. It called on states to inspect, in their territory, suspicious cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea. (This type of Council request is rare.) Instead of creating a separate sanctions committee for Eritrea, the resolution expanded the mandates of the existing Committee and Monitoring Group for Somalia. (It is the first time that one committee has been put in charge of two separate sanctions regimes.) China abstained and Libya voted against the resolution despite the AU’s leading role in supporting the resolution. 

Eritrea wrote a letter  to the Council on the day of the adoption calling the resolution “shameful” and maintaining that accusations concerning its involvement in Somalia had never been “substantiated or verified”. In February Eritreans held protests in Australia, Switzerland and the US demanding an end to the sanctions.  

On 14 January the Council heard a briefing on the Secretary-General’s latest report   by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. Ould-Abdallah outlined two main challenges for the international community in Somalia: the absence of “concrete commitment and determined international policy” towards Somalia and the lack of material assistance despite pledges made and apparent strong international support for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). To overcome these challenges, he called for better international coordination, including cooperation with subregional organisations, enhanced “moral, diplomatic and financial” assistance for the government, vigorous action against spoilers and a more integrated UN presence, as well as early relocation to Mogadishu by the international community. Somali Ambassador Elmi Ahmed Duale, who also spoke at the meeting, said the current UN strategy was “inadequate” and called for a “much heavier UN footprint.”

On 28 January the Council adopted resolution 1910 , renewing the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) until 31 January 2011. (The AU Peace and Security Council renewed AMISOM’s mandate for another 12 months on 8 January.)  

Violence in Somalia escalated sharply in January according to a 2 February statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Two hundred and fifty-eight civilians were killed and 253 were wounded in January, making it the deadliest month since August 2009. UNHCR also estimated that 80,000 Somalis had been displaced since the beginning of the year.

On 28 February Al Shabaab ordered the World Food Programme (WFP) to halt all operations in Somalia and leave the country. It accused the WFP of handing out expired food and also said its food distribution had negatively impacted local farmers.

While the standoff between the TFG and the insurgent groups Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam continued with daily clashes, TFG representatives repeatedly said a government offensive was imminent.   According to media reports the insurgents responded by sending additional troops to Mogadishu while residents fled in anticipation of a major confrontation. There were also reports of renewed fighting between Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam in the south.

In a 29 January statement Al-Shabaab confirmed officially for the first time that it had joined Al Qaida’s “international jihad”.

In February there were reports that representatives of the TFG and Ahlu Suna Wal Jamma (ASWJ), a pro-government Islamist group that controls parts of central Somalia, were holding talks in Addis Ababa to further strengthen cooperation, possibly through inclusion of ASWJ in the Somali government.  

Human Rights-Related Developments
Following his fourth monitoring mission to the Horn of Africa, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Dr. Shamsul Bari, issued a strong warning on the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the country. In a statement on 28 January, Dr. Bari said civilians in South and Central Somalia continued to bear the brunt of the fighting between TFG forces and insurgents. He urged the international community and the UN to strengthen international engagement and support to Somalia, including to Puntland and Somaliland. “This increased support is required”, he said, “particularly for the implementation of the three pillars of the Djibouti process— political, security and recovery—which all include crosscutting human rights issues”.

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Key Issues
A technical issue for the Council in March is renewal of the Monitoring Group’s mandate. A related issue is merging the two mandates currently defined by resolutions 1853 and 1907  on Somalia and Eritrea respectively.

A second issue is whether additional experts are needed as a result of the Monitoring Group’s added responsibilities and whether it should be based elsewhere than Nairobi in light of recent threats received there by its members. 

Another issue is the need to update the guidelines of the Sanctions Committee as requested by resolution 1907. 

A wider issue is moving to effective implementation of the targeted sanctions in resolutions 1844  and 1907. The Sanctions Committee has yet to make any designations under resolution 1844 well over a year after its adoption. Related issues are the impact any designations may have on the government’s reconciliation efforts and whether the Council will take action against those obstructing humanitarian access. (This sanctions criterion, which is found only in the Somalia and Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions regimes, has never been applied.) 

A final issue is whether the Council should now focus on the situation in Somalia also in the context of the 1267 sanctions regime against Al Qaida/Taliban which authorises targeted measures against groups or individuals associated with Al Qaida. (So far only a few designations of individuals relating to the Horn of Africa have been made under this regime.)
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Options for the Council include:

  • requesting the Secretary-General to reestablish the Monitoring Group for another 12 months within a specified time frame (in order to avoid any delay in its reestablishment, as was the case after the last mandate renewal) with an expanded mandate and adding further experts;
  • requesting the Committee to heighten focus on monitoring and implementation;  
  • sending a small mission to the region led by the chair of the Sanctions Committee, to signal its support to the work of the Monitoring Group (such a mission was originally planned to take place last November, but was postponed); 
  • designating, in the Sanctions Committee, individuals and entities for targeted sanctions, or if the Committee fails to progress on designations, bringing the issue to the Council for a decision; and
  • increasing its focus on the Horn of Africa through the 1267 Committee.

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Council Dynamics
It seems that Council members are having difficulties with designations of individuals and entities for targeted measures.  Some members supporting implementation of the regime often explain the delay as resulting from the lengthy domestic procedures involved in producing designation proposals.  

There appears to be general support among Council members for designations if there is sufficient evidence. However, positions are likely to remain vague until there are concrete proposals on the table.  

It seems that attempts to designate Eritrean nationals could be controversial.  Libya, which voted against resolution 1907, has left the Council, but several other members only reluctantly supported the targeted measures against Eritrea and China abstained. New members like Brazil and Lebanon seem to be generally cautious on sanctions and prefer a more balanced approach.

On the wider issues related to Somalia, most Council members appear to believe the Council is already doing as much as it can and that the main challenge now lies in implementation of what is already in place. 

The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council.
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Selected UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1910 (28 January 2010) renewed authorisation of AMISOM until 31 January 2011.
  • S/RES/1907  (23 December 2009) imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.
  • S/RES/1862 (14 January 2009) demanded that Eritrea withdraw its forces within five weeks to the positions of the status quo ante in its border dispute with Djibouti and engage in dialogue to resolve the dispute.
  • S/RES/1853 (19 December 2008) extended the mandate of the Somalia Monitoring Group and requested the Secretary-General to reestablish it for a period of 12 months. (It was re-established in March 2009.)
  • S/RES/1844  (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions relating to the situation in Somalia.
Latest Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2009/684  (31 December 2009) included an assessment of progress in implementing the three-phased approach to Somalia endorsed by the Council in May 2009.
Selected Meeting Records
  • S/PV.6259(14 January 2010) was the last briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
  • S/PV.6254  (23 December 2009) was the adoption of the Eritrea sanctions resolution with explanations of vote.
  • S/2010/69 (4 February 2010) was a letter from Eritrea denouncing a 1 February communiqué from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development welcoming resolution 1907.
  • S/2010/59 (28 January 2010) was a letter from Eritrea criticising US policy in the Horn of Africa region.
  • S/2010/14 (7 January 2010) was a letter from the chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee transmitting its 2009 report to the Council President.
  • S/2009/666 (23 December 2009) was a letter from Eritrea protesting the Council’s decision to impose sanctions on it.
  • S/2008/769 (10 December 2008) was the last report of the Somalia Monitoring Group.

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Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)
Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee
Claude Heller (Mexico)

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Additional Useful Sources

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Security Council Report
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March 12, 2010

UNHCR: Eritreans by far largest refugee group in Israel

Filed under: Events — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 1:25 pm
UNHCR: Eritreans by far largest refugee group in Israel
90% of Eritrean asylum-seekers are men, many of whom fled indefinite compulsory military duty.
Eritreans constitute by far the largest population of asylum-seekers in Israel, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.

Sharon Harel, assistant protection officer for the UNHCR in Tel Aviv, said Monday there were around 8,500 Eritrean refugees in the country, as opposed to some 5,000 to 6,000 from Sudan. (more…)

March 7, 2010

Priority Africa – African Refugees in Peril

Filed under: Video — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 8:49 am

Nunu Kidane, director of Priority Africa Network and Gerald Lenoir, director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration recently traveled to Italy and Greece to learn more about the plight of African refugees as they make their way to Europe to find work to support themselves and their families back home. They will share the stories that young
men from Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria and other countries shared about their perilous journey from their home countries. they will discuss the racist attitudes of Europeans and the policies of the Italian and Greek governments that keep immigrants and refugees from Africa impoverished and disenfranchised

March 3, 2010

EU implements international restrictive measures against Eritrea

Filed under: Politics — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 7:01 pm

Summary: 1 March 2010, Brussels – The European Union implements international restrictive measures against Eritrea

The Council of the European Union today adopted a decision11 (5534/10) imposing restrictive measures against Eritrea in line with the United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1907 (2009).

The restrictive measures consist of an arms embargo, as well as travel restrictions and a freeze of assets against persons and entities designated by the UN sanctions committee22 as:

– having acted in violation of the arms embargo;

– providing support from Eritrea to armed opposition groups which aim to destabilise the region;

– obstructing implementation of UNSCR 1862 (2009) concerning the border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea;

– harbouring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organising, training or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other States or their citizens in the region;

– obstructing the investigations or work of the monitoring group pursuant to UNSCR 1853 (2008) concerning the situation in Somalia.

1 The decision was taken without discussion at the Competitiveness Council meeting.
2 Sanctions committee established pursuant to UNSCR 751 (1992) and expanded by UNSCR 1844 (2008).

  • Ref: CL10-047EN
  • EU source: Council
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 1/3/2010

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