Remarks at a Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea

Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard
U.S. Senior Adviser for African Affairs
New York, New York
October 25, 2023


Thank you, Madam Chair. The United States also thanks the Special Rapporteur for his insightful reporting.

The United States remains deeply concerned by continued reports of unlawful killings; disappearances; torture; unjust detention; undue or unjust restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly; and other human rights violations and abuses in Eritrea.

Eritreans remain among the most censored people in the world. Through intimidation and control, the government severely restricts the ability of individuals to criticize its policies. The impact of these restrictions is crystal clear: the ability of Eritreans to hold the government accountable is severely curtailed.

We have grave concerns about Eritrea’s military. The government uses indefinite conscription to force children and students into military or civilian service before they finish their education. Many of them never return to school.

Moreover, the government targets those who refuse to serve in its military. Arbitrary detention, evictions, and denial of food rations in a severely impoverished country are only a few of the litany of other abuses and violations committed against those who refuse conscription.

The United States urges Eritrea to end its use of indefinite conscription. We further urge Eritrea to make much-needed reforms to allow for freedom of expression and press freedom.

Mr. Special Rapporteur, what efforts should the UN be taking to secure the release of the 16 journalists whom Eritrea has unjustly kept in indefinite detention, many for more than 20 years?

I thank you.