Eritrea: War Crimes

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 22nd June 2021.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the UK is taking in Eritrea to help ensure that UN investigators have the necessary access to conduct an assessment of atrocities.

Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what support his Department is giving to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to help ensure that that agency's joint investigations with the Ethiopian High Commission into atrocities in Eritrea are (a) independent, (b) transparent and (c) impartial, and whether those investigations address specifically the situation of ethnic and religious groups.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are appalled by systematic killing of civilians, widespread rape, including of children, indiscriminate shelling and the forcible displacement of ethnic Tigrayans. Those responsible for such abuses and violations need to be held to account.

We welcome the joint Enquiry of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into human rights violations and abuses in Tigray, and continue to press for unfettered access to the region and victims. Investigators must be given unhindered access to Tigray, be able to speak to the victims of the religious and ethnic groups most affected, and allowed to report their findings in full. We have lobbied in Asmara for Eritrean cooperation with the UNOHCHR Joint Investigation. The EHRC has previously shown its willingness to act independently and must continue to do so through the joint investigation, which we judge is the most credible prospect available for holding the perpetrators of atrocities in Tigray to account. The UK will therefore support the UNOHCHR to ensure that their joint investigation into atrocities in Tigray with the EHRC is independent, transparent and impartial. We will also continue to press the Eritrean government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea to enable him to fully carry out his mandate.

The UK further welcomes the proposed African Union Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights, calls for the Government of Ethiopia to allow access to this inquiry and is in touch with the African Union on how we might support this effort.

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