Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report on Wednesday criticizing a Danish immigration report on Eritrea’s rights situation as being deeply flawed.
The findings of the Danish immigration report, which was released three weeks ago, suggested an improvement in human rights conditions in Eritrea, but the report was roundly criticized by rights observers as incomplete and irresponsible for discounting the experiences of thousands of young Eritreans who continue to risk their lives in fleeing the country to escape Eritrea’s indefinite military conscription service. The Danish Immigration Service's report was commissioned after a large spike in Eritrean refugee applications this summer from the usual average of 10 a month to about 500 a month.
“The Danish report seems more like a political effort to stem migration than an honest assessment of Eritrea’s human rights situation. Instead of speculating on potential Eritrean government reforms, host governments should wait to see whether pledges actually translate into changes on the ground.” said Leslie Lefkow, HRW deputy Africa director.
However, the Danish Immigration Service has already backed down from acting upon the controversial report and issued a press release last week indicating that it now believed that Eritrean refugees had legitimate human rights concerns in Eritrea.
“DIS therefore finds that after concrete and individual assessments, there can be a basis for granting asylum to people seeking it under this motivation [avoiding compulsory national service, ed.],” the statement said.
Eritrea has been ruled by its military ruler, Isaias Afewerki, since independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and is regarded by human rights observers as one of the most repressive governments in the world. The Eritrean government has imposed a shoot-to-kill policy at its borders targeting young Eritreans who try to escape indefinite military service. Thousands of Eritrean refugees have died at the hands of human and organ traffickers whilst attempting to reach Europe.