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ICC Note:

The United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimously approved a commission of inquiry into documented, widespread human rights abuses committed by the Eritrean regime upon its own people. Since 1993, President Isaias Afwerki has clamped down on free religious practice, arresting, torturing and even summarily executing Christians caught praying or reading scripture outside of one of only 3 designated state churches. In a recent 38-page letter, 4 Eritrean Bishops lamented the living conditions in the East-African nation, otherwise known as “The Great Prison” and the “North Korea of Africa.” The full text of the resolution can be read here.

06/28/2014 Eritrea (BBC) –  The UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) has set up a commission of inquiry into Eritrea, seen as one of the world’s most repressive states.

The three-member panel will report back in one year.

In a statement, the HRC condemned “widespread and systematic” human rights violations, including torture and other cruel punishments. Eritrea rejected the resolution.

Human rights groups have previously called the country a “giant prison”.

Amnesty International last year said some 10,000 Eritreans had been imprisoned for political reasons since independence from Ethiopia in 1993. This was denied by the government.

Earlier this month, four Eritrean Catholic bishops took the rare step of publicly criticising life in the country as “desolate”.

Many of the migrants who drowned off Lampedusa last year were from Eritrea.

Young men must do national service until the age of 40, prompting an estimated 3,000 to flee the country each month.

The use of conscription was also condemned by the HRC, along with restrictions on the freedom of expression, religion and peaceful assembly.

All private media have been closed down and only members of four religions – the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Churches and Islam – are allowed to practise freely.

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