Eritrea is becoming a “giant prison” due to its government’s policies of mass detention, torture and prolonged military conscription, according to a report published today .
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said state repression had made the tiny Red Sea state one of the highest producers of refugees in the world, with those fleeing risking death or collective punishment against their families.
There is no freedom of speech, worship or movement in Eritrea, while many adults are forced into national service at token wages until up to 55 years of age.
HRW is a very credible source, and from reading the article, it’s hard not to come away with the conclusion that Eritrea should spend less energy on its ongoing dispute with its neighbor, Eritrea Ethiopia, and more on caring for and protecting the rights of its own population. One way that the country’s government did not help itself in that regard was by essentially forcing the departure of UN peacekeepers from the border region with Ethiopia.
It should be said, as we at Dispatch have emphasized, that the Ethiopian government, particularly by not abiding by a UN decision to award a disputed border town to Eritrea, did not help calm this situation either. And neither is it a paragon of human rights. Both would benefit from halting their military escalation and long-standing confrontational politics, as peace has been shown to have far better effects on people’s individual, social, and economic well-being than a perpetual state of near-war.