Eritrea remains one of the most closed and repressive countries in the sub-region, with no independent civil society, political opposition, or independent media able to function freely.
On 15 June 2017, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, presented her report to the UN Human Rights Council in which she concluded that the government of Eritrea has made no effort to address the human rights concerns highlighted by the UN Commission of Inquiry. On 6 July 2017, the European Parliament adopted a strong resolution condemning, among other issues, Eritrea’s systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations, and called on the Eritrean government to put an end to the detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders, and innocent civilians. The resolution also referenced Eritrea’s inhumane unlimited national service in light of many refugees fleeing into Europe on a daily basis.
 United Nations Human Rights – Office of the High Commissioner, “Eritrea accused over catalogue of human rights abuses – New report,” 15 June 2017, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21751&LangID=E, Accessed 26 September 2017.
 Parliament of the European Union, “European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak,” 6 July 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P8-TA-2017-0309&language=EN&ring=B8-2017-0470, Accessed 26 September 2017.
The Eritrean government continues to repress religious freedom for unregistered – and in some cases registered – religious communities. In early May 2017, ten Christians, four women and six men, were reportedly arrested by security officers from a home in Ginda, about 45 kilometres northeast of Asmara. According to Open Door USA, they were being held at the Ginda Police Station without charge. The Christian persecution watchdog noted that many Christian prisoners in Eritrea are locked up in shipping containers with little ventilation and have died as a result.
On 3 May 2017, World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO awarded its prestigious Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Dawit Isaak, a journalist with Swedish and Eritrean dual nationality who has been imprisoned in Eritrea for 15 years without ever speaking to a lawyer or seeing a judge. In 1993, Dawit founded the independent newspaper Setit, in the capital, Asmara. In 2001, his newspaper published an open letter calling for elections and the implementation of the promised constitution. The ensuing crackdown saw Dawit and ten other journalists arrested, seven of whom have since died in detention. The fate of Dawit and the other three – Emanuel Asrat, Temesgen Gebreyesus, and Seyoum Tsehaye – remains unclear, despite repeated requests from his family and the Swedish government. On 6 July 2017, the European Parliament voted through a resolution calling for the immediate release of Dawit Isaak.
On 6 June 2017, London-based charity One World Media presented Radio Erena with an award for their commitment to reporting politics, social issues, and local culture in the face of great adversity. The station, created by exiled HRD Biniam Simon, has broadcast by satellite from France since 2009.
 Open Door USA, “10 Christians Arrested in Eritrea,” 13 May 2017, https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/10-christians-arrested-eritrea/, Accessed 26 September 2017.
 Parliament of the European Union, “European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak,” 6 July 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2017-0309+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN, Accessed 20 October 2017.
 Reporters Without Borders, “Radio Erena receives 2017 One World Media special award,” 6 June 2017, https://rsf.org/en/news/radio-erena-receives-2017-one-world-media-special-award, Accessed 26 September 2017.
Highlights from DefendDefenders advocacy
UN Human Rights Council: 37th Session Item 4: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea Oral Intervention CIVICUS and DefendDefenders Delivered by Estella Kabachwezi on 12 March 2018 Mr. President, on behalf of CIVICUS, DefendDefenders, Eritrean Law Society, Human Rights Concern Eritrea, Information...
Return to English Au cours des cinq dernières années, la situation des droits humains dans l’Est et la Corne de l’Afrique s’est continuellement détériorée. Que ce soit en raison de conflits ouverts ou via des restrictions – à la fois légales et extra-juridiques – imposées...
DefendDefenders examines the challenges journalists face, and provides an overview of the various strategies they have used to circumvent and continue their work amid these restrictions
On 27th October 2015, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) celebrated ten years of defending human right activists throughout the East and Horn of Africa. To mark this occasion, EHAHRDP has produced an anniversary publication.
This is a report of a Human Rights Defenders Conference held in Entebbe, Uganda, from 30 October to 4 November 2005. It provided a unique opportunity for human rights defenders from East Africa and the Horn of Africa to share their experiences, exchange ideas and build networks to support each other. The conference was jointly organized by Amnesty International and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defender Project (EHAHRDP), based in Kampala. It brought together 43 human rights defenders, including 19 women defenders, from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Somaliland, Sudan (including South Sudan), Tanzania (including Zanzibar), and Uganda. The conference culminated in the launching of a new Human Rights Defenders Network linking organizations working for human rights in East Africa and the Horn, and the adoption of a Plan of Action.