Procedure : 2016/2568(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0318/2016

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 10/03/2016 - 7.8
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0318/2016

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the situation in Eritrea (2016/2568(RSP))

Charles Tannock, Mark Demesmaeker, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Arne Gericke, Mirosław Piotrowski, Ryszard Czarnecki, Edward Czesak, Ruža Tomašić, Angel Dzhambazki on behalf of the ECR Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Eritrea (2016/2568(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Eritrea,

–  having regard to the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 9 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the constitution of Eritrea of 1997,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Eritrea is a party, in particular Articles 6, 7 and 9 thereof,

–  having regard to Article 9 of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement as revised in 2005 (the Cotonou Agreement), to which Eritrea is a signatory,

–  having regard to the report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea – A/HRC/29/42, of 4 June 2015,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2224 (2015) of 23 October 2015,

–  having regard to the UNHCR 2015 overview on Eritrea,

–  having regard to the Christian Solidarity Worldwide submission for the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea of 30 January 2015,

–  having regard to National Service Proclamation No 82/1995, published on 23 October 1995 in the Eritrean Gazette,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas following a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991, the Eritreans overwhelmingly approved independence in a 1993 referendum; whereas a new constitution with full respect for human rights was approved and ratified in 1997 but was not implemented;

B.  whereas parliamentary elections scheduled for 2001 were postponed indefinitely owing to a border war with Ethiopia and elections have yet to be held, and whereas the only political party that is allowed to exist is the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ); whereas the National Assembly has not convened since 2002 and only government media are allowed to operate;


C.  whereas Isaias Afwerki has been Eritrea’s only president since independence in 1993, his rule, particularly since 2001, has been highly autocratic and repressive, and his government has created a highly militarised society;

D.  whereas by law, all Eritrean nationals, both female and male, between the ages of 18 and 40 have a duty to do 18 months of active national service and remain in the reserve until the age of 50; whereas in practice conscription frequently occurs in schools, including children below the age of 15;

E.  whereas sexual abuse of girls occurs during national service, especially during military training, and many women and girls seek to avoid national service through marriage or motherhood, or are coerced into doing so by family members; whereas national service enlistment times, officially 18 months, may be extended during times of ‘national crisis’;

F.  whereas in a study carried out at London South Bank University of 200 escaped conscripts, the average length of service was 6.5 years, and some had served more than 12 years, with many young people fleeing Eritrea to avoid conscription;

G.  whereas the United Nations renewed its arms embargo on Eritrea citing the threat to the peace and stability of the region and stressed its demand that Eritrea make information available to the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) pertaining to the Djiboutian combatants missing in action since the clashes of 2008;

H.  whereas the number of refugees and asylum seekers originating from Eritrea in mid-2015 was 444 000, out of a total population of 6 500 000; whereas the relatively large number of unaccompanied minors arriving from Eritrea are at high risk of trafficking;

I.  whereas 39 000 Eritrean refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy during 2015, making Eritrea the country of origin of the largest number of refugees crossing to Italy;

J.  whereas systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations are being committed in Eritrea under the authority of the government, including widespread surveillance of the population, strict control of movement both within the country and of those seeking to leave it, complete repression of the freedom of speech and serious violations of freedom of religion and belief; whereas some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity;

K.  whereas the Eritrean regime has a long-held ideological antipathy towards all religion, considering it to be a competing and dangerous allegiance and a source of national division, all religions being persecuted; whereas the former Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church was held under house arrest from 2007 until his death in December 2015; whereas many priests, pastors and other religious figures are either under house arrest or in prison;

L.  whereas tens of thousands of Eritreans continue to be detained without charge or trial in life-threatening conditions in facilities across the country, where torture is routinely practised;

1.  Calls on Eritrea to fully implement its ratified constitution and enact the rights enshrined in it, particularly those in Articles 17 and 19;

2.  Encourages Eritrea to sign, ratify and immediately enact the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to fully uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which prohibit torture;

3.  Urges an end to arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and indefinite detention without charge or trial; stresses that the Eritrean Government must bring all long-term detainees before recognised courts of law in the presence of international observers, or release them, and that all detainees subjected to arbitrary and irregular detention should be released immediately;

4.  Calls on the government to acknowledge the existence of human rights violations and ensure accountability for past human rights violations, including, but not limited to, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, unlawful detention, sexual violence and forced labour, including within national service;

5.  Recommends the discontinuation of indefinite national service by limiting it to 18 months for all current and future conscripts aged 18 or over, and that provision be made for conscientious objectors;

6.   Condemns the use by the Eritrean Government of the ‘Diaspora tax’, which is collected by extortion and other illegal means from Eritreans outside of Eritrea and is used in violation of UN resolutions to fund armed groups in neighbouring countries and thus destabilise the region;

7.   Expresses its great concern at the extremely high number of Eritrean refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe and considers the anti-democratic and totalitarian rule in Eritrea to be the primary reason for this; urges the President and the Government of Eritrea to immediately bring about reforms;

8.   Is strongly of the opinion that the harsh conditions and lack of freedom imposed on the people by the government, especially the use of indefinite conscription, contribute to migration from Eritrea, and not solely the economic situation of the country; points out to the Commission that increasing aid under the European Development Fund does not address these issues;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Pan-African Parliament, the co-presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the African Union, and the President, the Parliament and the Government of Eritrea.

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