Death Penalty Worldwide

Eritrea

Last updated on July 7, 2014

General

Official Country Name

State of Eritrea (Eritrea). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Eastern Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto.

We cannot determine with certainty whether Eritrea is abolitionist de facto or retentionist because we are not sure when the last execution took place. The Eritrean government refuses to provide information on capital punishment. Amnesty International reports that the last confirmed execution was carried out in 1989. [3] Based on that information, we classify Eritrea as abolitionist de facto. A country expert, however, indicates that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [4]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [5]

Shooting.
For members of the armed forces, the death penalty may be carried out by shooting. [6]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Eritrea Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13349075, Dec. 19, 2012.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Oct. 31, 2013.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[4] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[5] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 116(1), Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[6] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 116(1), Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.

Country Details

Language(s)

The Draft Constitution declares that “[t]he equality of all Eritrean languages is guaranteed.” [1] Tigrinya, Tigre, Arabic and English are the major languages. [2]

Population

5,600,000. [3]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

0 or 1. The Eritrean government refuses to provide information regarding the death penalty, and organizations such as Amnesty International have been unable to confirm any information. [4] A country expert indicates that there may be one person currently on death row. It is also possible that the individual has been executed and that there is currently no one on death row. [5]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on October 24, 2014)

0. [6]

Executions in 2013

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions.

Executions in 2012

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions.

Executions in 2011

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions.

Executions in 2010

0. [10]

Executions in 2009

0. [11]

Executions in 2008

0. [12]

A country expert indicated that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [13]

Executions in 2007

0. [14]

A country expert indicated that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [15]

Year of Last Known Execution

Unsure. The Eritrean government refuses to provide information on capital punishment. Amnesty International reports that the last confirmed execution was carried out in 1989. [16] A country expert indicates that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [17]

References

[1] The Constitution of Eritrea (Draft), art. 4(3), May 23, 1997.
[2] BBC, Country Profiles: Eritrea Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13349075, Dec. 19, 2012.
[3] BBC, Country Profiles: Eritrea Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13349075, Dec. 19, 2012.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 41, ACT 50/011/2013, Apr. 10, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 34, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 22, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 19, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, pp. 7-8, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[5] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[6] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 41, ACT 50/011/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 48, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 34, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[13] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[15] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[17] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Intentional homicide “with such premeditation, motives or means, in such conditions of commission, or in any other aggravating circumstance…as to betoken that [the offender] is exceptionally cruel or dangerous” is punishable by death. [1] Intentional homicide as part of a gang formed for the purpose of homicide or robbery, or to further or conceal another offense, is punishable by death. [2] The death penalty is mandatory if the offender is already serving a sentence of rigorous life imprisonment. [3]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Armed robbery that results in the death of the victim is punishable by death in the “most serious cases.” [4]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Offenses against the constitutional order, national defense, internal or external security, or the territorial or political integrity of the State are death-eligible if they are accompanied by the use of bombs or other terrorist methods endangering the public. [5]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
A person who organizes, orders, or engages in looting, pillaging, or unlawfully destroying or removing property on grounds of military necessity is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [6] A person who commits robbery as a member of a gang, habitually commits the crime, threatens the victim with death, or causes serious physical injury or disability to the victim is also subject to the death penalty in the “most serious cases.” [7] Armed robbery committed habitually by a gang is a death-eligible crime. [8]

Economic Crimes Not Resulting in Death.
Intentionally causing starvation, destitution, or general ruination by depreciating, counterfeiting, or systematically debasing the currency in time of war is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [9] A person who confiscates, destroys, or appropriates the estates or property of a civilian, or imposes unlawful or arbitrary taxes in time of war is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [10]

Treason.
Overthrowing or attempting to overthrow, change or destroy the government or any constitutional authority is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [11] Inciting an armed rebellion or a civil war, or an attempt to incite an armed rebellion or a civil war, is also punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [12] Violent or unconstitutional destruction of the political or territorial unity of the State is a death-eligible offense in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [13] Attacks against the independence of the State, initiating hostile acts against the State from outside the State, or involving the State in a foreign war or other hostilities is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [14] A person who undermines the defense of the State, delivers troops for, recruits a citizen for, or enlists in the military service of a foreign power, or publicly instigates or incites a person in the military service to instigate a mutiny, desertion, or a refusal to serve is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [15] Taking up arms or participating in hostile acts against the State or engaging in a secret correspondence with a power at war with the State is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [16] A diplomat who endangers the existence or independence of the State is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [17] A person who helps the enemy with advice or by deed in time of war or of occupation of the territory of the State is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [18] Offenses against the constitutional order, national defense, internal or external security, or the territorial or political integrity of the State are death-eligible if they are committed during or under threat of internal disturbance, war, or state of emergency, a part of a conspiracy, carried out by an organized armed band, committed with the resources or support from abroad, or accompanied by the use of bombs or other terrorist methods endangering the public. [19]

Espionage.
A person who directly or indirectly delivers an object, armament, plan document, or other resources used for national defense to a power at war with the State is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [20] Political, diplomatic or military espionage of “exceptional gravity,” especially in grave circumstances such as time of war and where the vital interests of the State are at stake, is punishable by death. [21]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
The following offenses are punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity” or in the “gravest cases:” ordering or engaging in the killing or wounding of an enemy who has surrendered or is incapable of defending, mutilating a dead person, or attacking a wounded, sick, or dead enemy with the intent to rob in time of war; [22] using or ordering the use of an illegal means of combat against the enemy; [23] deserting in time of emergency or war; [24] intentionally failing to carry out or refusing to obey a military order in time of war; [25] mutiny in time of emergency or war; [26] intentionally rendering oneself incapable of carrying out duties as a guard or abandoning one’s post in the face of the enemy; [27] demoralizing troops; [28] refusing to take up arms, hiding or running away without orders, or inciting comrades to such behavior in the face of the enemy. [29] A commanding officer who capitulates, abandons a fighting vehicle for which he is responsible, or surrenders a fortress or a post without having carried out his military duties or exhausted all means of defense is also subject to the death penalty. [30]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
-Genocide: Killing, seriously injuring a person, taking measures to prevent the propagation or survival of a group, moving or dispersing of people or children, or placing people under uninhabitable conditions with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, religious, or political group is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [31]

-War crimes: Killing, torturing, inhumanly treating, or causing physical or mental suffering to a civilian in time of war is death-eligible in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [32] Moving, dispersing, or systematically deporting the civilian population, or detaining a civilian in a concentration camp or a forced labor camp in time of war is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [33] Forcing a civilian to enlist in the enemy’s armed forces, intelligence services, or administration in time of war is also punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [34] Denationalization or forcible religious conversion of a civilian, forcing a civilian into prostitution or rape, or taking measures of intimidation or terror against civilians in time of war is a death-eligible crime in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [35] Killing, torturing, inhumanly treating, or causing physical or mental suffering to a wounded, sick, or shipwrecked person or a member of the medical services in time of war is also death-eligible in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [36] A person who unlawfully or arbitrarily destroys or appropriates the supplies of the medical services in time of war is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [37] Organizing, ordering, or engaging in the killing, torture or inhuman treatment of a prisoner of war, killing an enemy who has surrendered or is incapable of defending himself, or forcing a prisoner of war to enlist in the enemy’s armed forces, intelligence, or administration in time of war are all punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [38] Enemy combatants (as opposed to regular or auxiliary forces) are punished by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [39]

Comments.
Eritrea amended its Transitional Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes in 1991. [40] We were not able to locate the amendment for our research, but our list of offenses punishable by death is current. The 1991 amendments did not add new offenses or punishments, and mostly modified the Ethiopian codes by incorporating more leniency in sentencing options. [41]

In addition to the capital offenses listed above, which are tried in the civilian court system, Eritrean authorities reportedly also apply the death penalty to political prisoners and members of the military in fora that may be considered extrajudicial. Political prisoners are not brought to trial in the civilian court system but fall under the purview of the national security apparatus and the Special Court. The Special Court is empowered by Proclamation 85/1996 to try offenses of theft, embezzlement, corruption, and abuse of power, but its jurisdiction is vaguely defined and has been very broadly interpreted. It does not function like a judicial body and is not constrained by the Transitional Penal Code or any other law. Proceedings before the Special Court take place in closed session, before judges who are senior military officers and members of the Ministry of Defense. They have no formal legal training and their decisions cannot be appealed. Procedurally, the court may “use any procedure or method of investigation that it deems fit.” Defense lawyers are not permitted to appear. [42]

Moreover, recent NGO submissions to the Human Rights Council report that a senior military officer in his sole discretion rather than a court martial may pass and execute a sentence of death for breaches of military discipline or duty, and that the military exercises the authority to legislate and to act independently of civilian executive authority. [43] Such death sentences for military offenses are applied extrajudicially. The defendant does not appear before any court and is not detained in the civilian prisons of Sembel, Hazhaz or Tsetserat. [44]

Eritrean courts reportedly favor out-of-court economic, marital or other peacemaking settlements and will take private agreements into account when determining a sentence or reviewing parole. [45] The payment of blood money in exchange for the victim family’s forgiveness is not allowed under the law. Instead, the victim’s family may seek damages in civil courts. In traditional Eritrean society, however, peace may be reached between the victim and offender families by a marriage contract between members of the feuding families or through the community’s religious leaders and elders even in the absence of a marital or financial contract. When the victim’s family assures the court that they have forgiven the offender and reached an amicable settlement with the accused, the court takes it into consideration as a mitigating circumstance. If the agreement is reached after sentencing, the court applies this in favor of the offender during parole hearings. The focus of the courts is not on the compensation of the victim’s family but rather on the establishment of a peaceful relationship between the victim and offender families.

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. Under the pre-amendment Transitional Penal Code of 1957, the death penalty for aggravated murder carried out by an individual already under a sentence of rigorous life imprisonment carried the mandatory death penalty. [46] The Transitional Penal Code as amended in 1991, however, prohibits the death penalty “except in cases where there are no extenuating circumstances.” [47]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

None. There is no mandatory death penalty in Eritrea. [48]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Uncertain. The Eritrean government refuses to provide information on capital punishment. Amnesty International reports that the last execution was carried out in 1989. [49] A country expert, however, indicates that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [50] The executed prisoner, Tegadalay Mengistu Amlesom, was sentenced to death for aggravated murder in March 1999 after being found guilty of killing five people, including his wife, and wounding four others. [51]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
The Transitional Penal Code prohibits the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18. [52] This conforms with Eritrea’s international obligations as party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibit such executions. [53]

Pregnant Women.
Pregnant women cannot be executed, and a sentence of death is commuted to life imprisonment. [54] This conforms with Eritrea’s international obligations as party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits such executions. [55]

Women With Small Children.
Women with a child under the age of 3 cannot be executed and a death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. [56] This conforms with Eritrea’s international obligations as a party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits the execution of nursing mothers. [57]

Mentally Retarded.
A sentence of death is commuted to life imprisonment for individuals with “limited criminal responsibility” at the time the offense was committed. [58] Limited responsibility is defined as follows: “He who owing to a derangement of his mind or understanding, an arrested mental development or an abnormal or deficient condition was not, at the time of his act, fully capable of understanding the nature and consequences thereof or regulating his conduct according to such understanding shall not be liable in full to the punishment specified for the offence committed.” [59]

We found no legislation prohibiting the execution of individuals suffering from mental retardation at the time the sentence is to be carried out.

Mentally Ill.
A sentence of death is commuted to life imprisonment for individuals with “limited criminal responsibility” at the time the offense was committed. Limited responsibility is defined as follows: “He who owing to a derangement of his mind or understanding, an arrested mental development or an abnormal or deficient condition was not, at the time of his act, fully capable of understanding the nature and consequences thereof or regulating his conduct according to such understanding shall not be liable in full to the punishment specified for the offence committed.” [60]

We found no legislation prohibiting the execution of individuals suffering from mental illness at the time the sentence is to be carried out. However, any death-sentenced prisoners who are “seriously ill” cannot be executed. The prisoner is issued a temporary stay of execution until he or she is recovered. [61] It is possible that this exception would apply to mental illness.

Comments.
Death-sentenced prisoners who are “seriously ill” cannot be executed. The prisoner is issued a temporary stay of execution until he or she is recovered. [62]

References

[1] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 522, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[2] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 522, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[3] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 522, 1957. The Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[4] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 637, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[5] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 270, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[6] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 285, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[7] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 637, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[8] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 637, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[9] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 282, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[10] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 282, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[11] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 250, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[12] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 252, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[13] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 253, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[14] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 259, Jul. 23, 1957. The Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[15] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 260, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[16] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 261, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[17] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 262, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[18] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 264, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[19] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 270, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[20] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 252, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[21] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 265, Jul. 23, 1957. The Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[22] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 287, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[23] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 288, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[24] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 300, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[25] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 311, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[26] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 312, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[27] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 316, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[28] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 324, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[29] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 325, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[30] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 326, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[31] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 281, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[32] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, arts. 282, 283, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[33] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 282, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[34] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 282, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[35] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 282, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[36] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 283, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[37] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 283, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[38] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 284, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[39] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 290, Jul. 23, 1957. The Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[40] The Eritrean Transitional Penal Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991 and the Transitional Criminal Procedure Code of Eritrea was amended by Proclamations No. 5/1991 and No. 14/1991.
[41] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[42] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.
[43] U.N.G.A., Summary Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Accordance with Paragraph 15(C) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Eritrea, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/6/ERI/3, Sep. 15, 2009.
[44] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[45] Hands Off Cain, Eritrea Country Page, http://www.handsoffcain.info/bancadati/schedastato.php?idcontinente=25&nome=eritrea, last accessed Feb. 28, 2014.
[46] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 522, Jul. 23, 1957. The Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[47] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 116, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014. U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15(A) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Eritrea, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/6/ERI/1, Nov. 26, 2009.
[48] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 116, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014. U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15(A) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Eritrea, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/6/ERI/1, Nov. 26, 2009.
[49] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[50] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[51] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[52] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, which we have not accessed.
[53] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014. Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2014. List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified/Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Mar. 1, 2010.
[54] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[55] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014. Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2014. List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified/Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Mar. 1, 2010.
[56] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[57] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Jul. 3, 2014.
[58] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[59] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 49(1), Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, Transitional Penal Law of Eritrea, Vol. 1/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[60] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, Transitional Penal Law of Eritrea, Vol. 1/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[61] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, Transitional Penal Law of Eritrea, Vol. 1/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[62] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 118, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 4/1991, Transitional Penal Law of Eritrea, Vol. 1/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

January, 22, 2002. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [4]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [5]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [6]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [7]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [8]

Date of Accession

January 14, 1999. [9]

Signed?

No. [10]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

No. [11]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [12]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [13]

Date of Accession

December 22, 1999. [14]

Signed?

No. [15]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [16]

Vote

Abstained. [17]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [18]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [19]

Vote

Abstained. [20]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [21]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [22]

Vote

Abstained. [23]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [24]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [25]

Vote

Abstained. [26]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [27]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
[8] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[9] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[10] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[11] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[12] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[13] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[14] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[15] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[16] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[17] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[18] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[19] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2 (Part II), Dec. 8, 2010.
[20] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[21] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[22] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[23] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[24] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[25] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[26] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[27] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

The 1997 Draft Constitution provides that “[no] person shall be deprived of life without due process of law” and that “[no] person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” [1] The Draft Constitution was ratified by the Constituent Assembly in May 1997 but has not come into force. As a result, there is currently no constitution in Eritrea. The fundamental rights enshrined in the draft are rarely litigated before Eritrean courts, with the exception of habeas corpus petitions, which fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court. [2]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

The 1997 Draft Constitution of Eritrea does not reference international human rights norms. [3] Eritrea belongs to the dualist tradition, which means that international treaties ratified by Eritrea must be implemented by the National Assembly before they are applicable in domestic law. [4] Article 32(4) of the Draft Constitution states: “The National Assembly shall ratify international agreements by law.” The Draft Constitution was ratified by the Constituent Assembly in May 1997 but has not come into force. As a result, there is currently no constitution in Eritrea. [5]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

According to Amnesty International, the last execution in Eritrea took place in 1989. [6] Eritrea did not officially become independent until 1993. [7] A country expert, however, indicates that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [8] The executed prisoner, Tegadalay Mengistu Amlesom, was sentenced to death for aggravated murder in March 1999 after being found guilty of killing five people, including his wife, and wounding four others. [9] A former independence fighter, Amlesom would ordinarily have benefitted from the laws mandating leniency in criminal proceedings against those who participated in the struggle for independence. His offense, however, shocked Eritrean society and was widely perceived to be of a magnitude deserving of exceptional treatment. [10]

In addition, one other person is thought to have been sentenced to death since 2008. Details of his offense are unknown, and we also do not know whether this person was executed or is still on death row. [11]

Eritrea does not seem disposed to contemplate abolishing capital punishment in the near future. It signed all four Notes Verbales denouncing the U.N. General Assembly’s Resolution on a Global Moratorium on the use of the death penalty [12] and abstained from voting on the resolution itself. [13] Moreover, in their comments to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2009, Eritrea’s representatives stated that capital punishment was applied in a restricted manner and did not mention any prospect of abolition or even national debate over the death penalty. [14]

Political prisoners – such as political dissenters, opposition journalists, deserters, those practicing a religion unrecognized by the government, and those who attempt to flee the country – are never brought to trial in the civilian court system and are not detained in civilian prisons. Their cases fall instead under the purview of the national security apparatus and the Special Court. These prisoners are detained without being charged with a crime, given access to a lawyer or their families, or brought before a judge or a judicial officer. Arbitrary detention and torture in such cases is the norm. Arrests take place without any accusations or interviews. According to Amnesty International, at least 10,000 political prisoners have been arbitrarily detained, some for almost two decades, since President Isaias Afewerki took office after the independence in 1993. [15] Moreover, those brought before the Special Court do not benefit from the protections of the law. The Special Court is empowered by Proclamation 85/1996 to try offenses of theft, embezzlement, corruption, and abuse of power, but its jurisdiction is vaguely defined and has been very broadly interpreted. It does not function like a judicial body and is not constrained by the Transitional Penal Code or any other law. Proceedings before the Special Court take place in closed session, before judges who are senior military officers and members of the Ministry of Defense. They have no formal legal training and their decisions cannot be appealed. Procedurally, the court may “use any procedure or method of investigation that it deems fit.” Defense lawyers are not permitted to appear. While the Special Court has developed an internal review process, little is known about its procedures and it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain official documents describing its operation. [16]

Eritrean criminal laws, including the Transitional Penal Code and the Transitional Criminal Procedure Code, were amended in 1991, but we were not able to locate the amendments during our research.

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

There is no official moratorium. According to Amnesty International, the last execution in Eritrea took place in 1989, [17] but a country expert indicates that at least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008. The exact date is unknown. [18] In addition, one other person is thought to have been sentenced to death since 2008. It is unknown whether this person has been executed or is still on death row. [19]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

A country expert indicates that there have been two death sentences handed down by Eritrean courts since independence. [20]

At least one death sentence may have been carried out between 1999 and 2008, but the exact date is unknown. [21] The executed prisoner, Tegadalay Mengistu Amlesom, was sentenced to death for aggravated murder in March 1999 after being found guilty of killing five people, including his wife, and wounding four others. [22] A former independence fighter, Amlesom would ordinarily have benefitted from the laws mandating leniency in criminal proceedings against those who participated in the struggle for independence. His offense, however, shocked Eritrean society and was widely perceived to be of a magnitude deserving of exceptional treatment. [23]

The issue of competence was raised at the trial of Amlesom, who suffered a head injury during the independence war. Eritrea’s only psychiatrist, Dr. Fitsum-Birhan Ghebrenegus, determined that he was legally competent (he could distinguish right from wrong) and declared the offender to be “without mental illness.” The defense lawyer on appeal argued that the psychiatrist’s assessment was full of irregularities. The defense argued the assessment should have been conducted by a group of doctors and the offender should have been kept under observation throughout the study. During the psychiatric evaluation, the defendant was kept in jail and was transported to Kidisti Mariam Hospital for outpatient evaluation. He was not housed in the hospital during the time of his evaluation. In addition, Dr. Fitsum requested the testimony given by the defendant to the police during interrogation, and the defense argued that the psychiatric analysis was based on the police report. The court of appeal declined to review the possibility of mental illness on appeal, reasoning that the psychiatrist observed and studied the offender for about 6-7 months and that the defense did not provide any other evidence to show that the offender was mentally ill or had a history of mental illness. [24]

We do not currently have any information on the second death sentence.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

There is no case reporter and official permission is required to access judicial decisions, [25] which violates the principle of the publicity of trials. There are no electronic sources of Eritrean jurisprudence. Copies of judgments in paper form are available in-country only, in the archives of the High Court of Eritrea which contain a wealth of cases dating back to the colonial era, the library of the Ministry of Justice and the Law Library of the Department of Law. [26]

What is the clemency process?

The government of Eritrea reports that “[i]t is the mandate of the Ministry of Justice to forward the judgments where the death penalty is pronounced, together with its opinions, to the President of the State of Eritrea. The President of the State of Eritrea may remit or commute the sentence.” [27] As per article 204 of the Transitional Criminal Procedure Code (as amended by Proclamation 5/1991), the President has the power to give or withhold an order of confirmation once the court has passed a death penalty sentence. [28] No execution may be carried out without the President’s approval. [29]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

There is no jury system in Eritrea. All criminal cases are tried by judges. [30]

It is possible that capital offenses are tried before the Special Court, which carries out judicial functions but does not operate like a judicial body. Most of the judges of the court are former senior military officials. In making their decision, special court judges are not bound by law and can go beyond the bounds of law. [31]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

All grave criminal offenses are tried before the High Court. [32] Each party to a case has the right to one appeal. Eritrea does not have an appellate court. A five-judge panel of the High Court constituted as a Court of Appeal hears final appeals. [33] This panel consists of the Chief Justice of the High Court and four other judges from the benches of the High Court who only hear appeals. [34] The Transitional Criminal Procedure Code states that an appellant must appeal his or her sentence within fifteen days of the judgment. [35] A capital defendant may apply for a stay of execution to the court of appeal anytime before the appeal is heard or at the hearing of the appeal. [36] No stay of execution may be granted in respect of the payment of compensation. [37]

Capital offenses might be tried in the Special Court, where appeal is not permitted—although the executive may order a retrial. [38] Proclamation 85/1996, which established the Special Court, limits its jurisdiction to criminal offences related to theft, embezzlement, corruption, and abuse of power. Its powers are vaguely defined and have been interpreted broadly, however, and it is possible that it has in practice tried capital cases. Although its functions are judicial, it does not function like a judicial body. Its judges are senior military officers with no formal legal training, and it is not constrained by the Transitional Penal Code or any other law. [39]

The Military Courts have personal jurisdiction over members of the Eritrean Defense Forces, the police force and prison wardens. The High Military Court has jurisdiction over military offenses punishable by death. Appeals from this court lie to the 5-member Last Appeal Panel of the High Court. [40]

References

[1] The Constitution of Eritrea (Draft), arts. 15(1), 16(2), May 23, 1997.
[2] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.
[3] The Constitution of Eritrea (Draft), May 23, 1997.
[4] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[5] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 27, 2014.
[7] BBC, Country Profiles: Eritrea Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13349078, Feb. 13, 2014.
[8] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[9] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[10] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[11] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[12] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.
[13] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[14] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Eritrea: Addendum, para. 8, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/2/Add.1, Mar. 8, 2010.
[15] Amnesty International, Torture in Eritrea: ‘Every night you hear shouts and cries of people being beaten’, AFR 64/006/2013, Jun. 25, 2013. Amnesty International, Eritrea: Rampant repression 20 years after independence, PRE01/225/2013, May 9, 2013.
[16] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 27, 2014.
[18] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[19] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[20] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[21] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[22] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[23] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[24] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[25] Luwam Dirar & Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#resourcesforresearechers, Feb. 2014.
[26] Luwam Dirar & Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#resourcesforresearechers, Feb. 2014.
[27] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15(A) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Eritrea, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/6/ERE/1, Nov. 26, 2009.
[28] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014. Transitional Penal Code of Eritrea, art. 204, as last updated in 1991.
[29] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[30] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[31] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[32] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[33] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186194.htm, May 24, 2012.
[34] The Library of Congress, Legal Research Guide: Eritrea, The Civil Courts, http://www.loc.gov/law/help/eritrea.php, Jan. 31, 2014.
[35] Eritrean Transitional Criminal Procedure Code, art. 187(1), Nov. 2, 1961. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 5/1991, which we have not accessed.
[36] Eritrean Transitional Criminal Procedure Code, art. 188(5), Nov. 2, 1961. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 5/1991, which we have not accessed.
[37] Eritrean Transitional Criminal Procedure Code, art. 188(4), Nov. 2, 1961. This Code was amended by Proclamation No. 5/1991, which we have not accessed.
[38] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186194.htm, May 24, 2012.
[39] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.
[40] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Civilian Eritrean courts order offenders to be held in one of three prisons: Sembel, Tsetserat or Hazhaz. Under article 117 of the Transitional Penal Code of Eritrea, an offender on death row receives the same treatment as an offender sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. In addition, the prison director is to take measures to keep offenders on death row safe.

Male death-sentenced inmates are likely held in Sembel or Tsetserat. [1] Female death-sentenced inmates would be held at Hazhaz, the women’s prison (although some less dangerous male offenders are reportedly occasionally held there in a separate section). [2]

The national security apparatus, which deals with political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, has its own detention system, which is shrouded in secrecy. It reportedly detains individuals in makeshift or converted facilities, such as shipping containers. [3]

Description of Prison Conditions

Most reporting on prison conditions in Eritrea focuses on detention centers run by the national security apparatus, where conditions are harsh and life-threatening. Conditions in Sembel, Hazhaz and Tsetserat prisons, where the ordinary criminal courts send defendants, are reportedly better, with milder temperatures and access to family visits and vocational training. [4]

In national security detention centers, conditions are so harsh that prison guards have reportedly escaped with inmates due to demoralization. [5] Amnesty International reported in 2013 that detention conditions in Eritrea amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and therefore violate international law. [6]

Overcrowding in national security detention centers is severe, and prisoners are reportedly held in shipping containers with limited ventilation or provision for sanitation. [7] Many of these are located in the desert and prisoners have very restricted access to daylight. [8] In Kebrir Dahlak, prisoners are reportedly held in cells that are 40 degrees Celsius with access to less than a liter of water every day. [9] Former detainees have testified that prisoners are only allowed out for toilet purposes once or twice per day. [10] The law requires juveniles to be held separately from adults, but they are sometimes held together due to overcrowding. [11]

National security detainees are not provided with access to adequate medical care or food. [12] Prisoners at Alba prison have reported that they receive a single slice of bread per day. [13] A former Eritrean military intelligence officer assigned to Mai Dima military prison camp indicated that they gave prisoners very little food and water “in order to weaken them and to make them sick and die.” [14]

Physical and psychological torture, interrogations, and beatings are common in the national security detention system, [15] particularly against political prisoners (government critics, dissenters, draft evaders, and adherents of religions that are not recognized by the state), who may be subject to the death penalty according to the Eritrean Transitional Penal Code. [16] Prisoners are subject to mock drowning, put in painful positions, forced to stay out in the sun for long periods of time, hung from trees, tied to tires and rolled around, [17] and forced to walk or roll over sharp stones. [18] Violence and molestation leave some prisoners with physical injuries and other permanent disabilities. [19] Wounds caused by torture are not allowed to be treated on the grounds that the victim deserved punishment. [20] Moreover, political prisoners are often placed in solitary confinement. [21]

Those held in prison camps are sometimes forced into hard labor; former detainees reported that they worked as agricultural laborers in Mai Edaga and Wi’a camps, broke stones for road building at Alla camp, and worked as construction workers in Dahlak Kebir Island. [22]

Deaths have occurred in national security detention facilities due to harsh conditions. [23] When prisoners die during incarceration, families are rarely notified of the death. Guards are authorized to “shoot-to-kill” prisoners who attempt to escape. [24]

In the civilian prisons of Sembel, Hazhaz and Tsetserat, there are visitation days and prisoners are allowed to visit with family members. [25] Prisoners detained or convicted for crimes related to national security or for evading national service are generally not permitted to have family visits. [26]

Authorities do not allow religious observance for some prisoners, while allowing Muslims and Christians belonging to approved denominations to pray. [27]

There are no procedures for a prisoner to submit complaints to judicial authorities, and authorities do not adequately monitor prison conditions. [28]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

There have never been any foreign nationals on death row. [29]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

There have never been any foreign nationals on death row. [30]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

There have never been any women on death row. [31]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

There have never been any individuals under sentence of death who were under 18 at the time of the offense for which they were sentenced. [32] Amnesty reports that there have been no known executions of juveniles in Eritrea since 1990 when it started keeping records. [33]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

We found no evidence that capital punishment was applied in a racially or ethnically biased manner. [34]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Defendants charged with grave offenses have a legal right to be represented by counsel. [35] In practice, all defendants charged with a serious criminal offense are provided with a lawyer. For defendants who cannot afford to pay their own lawyer, the court assigns cases on a rotating basis to lawyers in private practice. Because there is no functioning legal aid system, these lawyers provide their services pro bono. In areas where there are no lawyers in private practice, such as the southern part of the country, the Ministry of Justice provides public defenders, who are usually former judges or prosecutors. [36]

It is possible that capital offenses are tried before the Special Court, where defense attorneys are not permitted. [37]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Defendants charged with grave offenses have a legal right to be represented by counsel. [38] In practice, all defendants charged with a serious criminal offense are provided with a lawyer on appeal. [39]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

The law does not address or specify the adequate time to prepare one’s defense or the right to access government-held evidence. [40]

There is a significant dearth of lawyers in Eritrea. A 2011 report stated that “[t]he government ha[d] in practice not issued licenses to lawyers seeking to enter private practice for the past four years.” [41]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system has limited functionality. The executive holds sway over the judiciary, which is weak, corrupt, and neither independent nor impartial. The judiciary “suffer[s] from lack of trained personnel, inadequate funding, and poor infrastructure.” [42]

Moreover, many detainees are never brought to trial, notably in all cases concerning national security and politics. These cases are not adjudicated by the ordinary court system but fall instead under the purview of the national security apparatus and the so-called Special Court, which does not function like a judicial body and is not constrained by law. [43] Arbitrary detention and torture in such cases is the norm. Arrests take place without any accusations or interviews, and there is no access to defense lawyers for those who are arbitrarily arrested. Some have been detained without charge or trial for almost two decades. According to Amnesty International, at least 10,000 political prisoners have been arbitrarily detained since President Isaias Afewerki took office after the independence in 1993. None of the political prisoners has been charged with a crime, given access to a lawyer, or brought before a judge or a judicial officer. Once these individuals are detained, their family members are not informed of their whereabouts. The Eritrean government uses arrests and detention without charge to silence and punish dissenters, journalists, those practicing a religion unrecognized by the state, and people who attempt to flee the country to avoid indefinite conscription. [44]

References

[1] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[2] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[3] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[4] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[5] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[6] Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, p. 5, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.
[7] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[8] Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, p. 5, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.
[9] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[10] Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, p. 5, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.
[11] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[12] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[13] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[14] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[15] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[16] Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, p. 5, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.
[17] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[18] Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, p. 5, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.
[19] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[20] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[22] Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, p. 5, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.
[23] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[24] Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, pp. 31-33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.
[25] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[26] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[27] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[28] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[29] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[30] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[31] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[32] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[33] Amnesty Intl., Executions of Juveniles Since 1990, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/executions-of-child-offenders-since-1990, last accessed Mar. 12, 2014.
[34] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[35] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 61, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 5/1991,. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[36] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[37] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012/af/204118.htm, Apr. 19, 2013.
[38] Eritrean Transitional Penal Code, art. 61, Jul. 23, 1957, as amended by Proclamation No. 5/1991. Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[39] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.
[40] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[41] U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154345.htm, Apr. 8, 2011.
[42] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Report: Eritrea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220111.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[43] Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir, Update: Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Eritrea1.htm#regularcourts, Feb. 2014.
[44] Amnesty International, Torture in Eritrea: ‘Every night you hear shouts and cries of people being beaten’, AFR 64/006/2013, Jun. 25, 2013. Amnesty International, Eritrea: Rampant repression 20 years after independence, PRE01/225/2013, May 9, 2013.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Because Eritrea has not submitted its round 1 reporting (due in April 2003), [1] the Committee has not yet issued Observations on Eritrea’s compliance with the ICCPR pursuant to periodic national reporting.

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Eritrea indicated that capital punishment was used in “very exceptional and limited cases,” noting the deterrent effect of the death penalty. [2] Eritrea has not yet responded to the recommendations it received to abolish the death penalty. [3]

At Eritrea’s 2009 Universal Periodic Review of human rights, Spain recommended that Eritrea “[a]bolish the death penalty once and for all, sign and ratify the second Optional Protocol to ICCPR.” [4] In March 2010, Eritrea responded that the death penalty deterred extreme crimes, and that it was applied “only in extreme and limited cases.” The Eritrean government also indicated that the abolition of the death penalty was not warranted due to Eritrea’s “national particularities and historical and cultural background.” [5]

In 2003, the organization Article 19 brought a case against the government of Eritrea before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights following the arrest and detention of 18 opposition journalists. The African Commission reached a decision on the merits in 2007, by which time the journalists had been detained incommunicado without charge or trial and without access to lawyers or their families for 5 years. The detainees were never brought before a judge during this time. The Commission found that Eritrea had violated the Charter’s prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the prohibition on arbitrary detention as well as the right to be tried within a reasonable time and the right to freedom of expression. [6] The whereabouts of the journalists are still unknown and the Eritrean government still remains defiant of the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. [7]

References

[1] U.N., Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Reporting Status: Eritrea’s Reporting Round 1, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/TreatyBodyExternal/Countries.aspx, last accessed Jul. 3, 2014.
[2] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Eritrea, para. 94, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/18/L.11, Feb. 5, 2014.
[3] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Eritrea, p. 21, para. 122, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/18/L.11, Feb. 5, 2014.
[4] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Eritrea, p. 15, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/2, Jan. 4, 2010.
[5] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Eritrea: Addendum, para. 8, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/2/Add.1, Mar. 8, 2010.
[6] Article 19 v. The State of Eritrea, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Communication No. 275/ 2003, 2007.
[7] Luwam Dirar, former advisor to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea, Interview with DPW, DPW Eritrea Doc. I-1, Jun. 20, 2014.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None are known.

Helpful Reports and Publications

We found no reports dealing specifically with capital punishment in Eritrea. The following reports focus on human rights concerns generally:

Amnesty International, Eritrea: No Progress on Key Human Rights Concerns: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January – February 2014, AFR 64/007/2013, Jun. 1, 2013.

Amnesty International, Eritrea: Rampant repression 20 years after independence, PRE01/225/2013, May 9, 2013.

Amnesty International, Torture in Eritrea: ‘Every night you hear shouts and cries of people being beaten,’ AFR 64/006/2013, Jun. 25, 2013.

Human Rights Watch, Ten Long Years: A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0911WebForUpload.pdf, Sep. 22, 2011.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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