AFRICA MONITORS - Report Eritrea

Human rights violations and crimes are committed against Eritreans who tried to cross to the neighboring countries both by smugglers and those who work in many of the prison camps in the country. Those committed by the smugglers are against women who cross alone while those perpetrated by the devotees of the government are done regardless of age or gender. These victims of violations have no crime except that they chose to set themselves free from the talons of a system that has not been agreeable to millions of their compatriots. These crimes were committed by their countrymen and smugglers who they trust and pay to cross.

Violations and torture by the system

These prison camps which are located all over the country have become a source of pain and grief to both the victims and their families. Thousands are locked away in these prison camps without any official hearing and trail. And so many are tortured to submit to every whim and wishes of the interrogators. The prisoners are beaten with plastic rods with wires inside them and cigarettes are put out in their tongue. Others would be fisted and with their hands tied from behind burning cigarettes where slipped inside their shirts. Their heels were beaten with canes until they could barely walk and some were crippled for life. These prison camps and the interrogators specialize with smuggling and all their cases and prisoners are related to human trafficking, from smugglers to pass paper forgers to brokers and other cases related to human trafficking. Some of the atrocities done in these prison camps are beyond comparison. Some of the actions of the interrogators are questionable by the system that abhors and defends them. But no one seems to question their actions whatsoever.   

There are other cases in which the prisoners are shot when they tried to escape. There was one prisoner in Adiabieto prison who was shot trying to cross through the point of Adi quala. He was not medicated or tended his wounds. When he came his wounds were tied in pieces of rags. He was fortunate his wounds were not fatal enough to cripple him, the bullet did not shatter his bones. Another man I met briefly in Adi Harush Refugee Camp witnessed the death of a colleague when he was crossing to Ethiopia. When they heard shots the group ran to save their lives. Among the group, one running off his side was shot in the head and fell.   

Crimes done by smugglers on Eritrean youth and women

One Eritrean girl who tried but failed to cross from Ethiopia to Sudan mentioned that the smugglers tried to violate them but were saved by soldiers. Many women carry in their bags or pockets protection or use contraceptive expecting the worst and some are not so lucky. All women who fled from Eritrea carry with them these contraceptive and protection considering the possibility that the traffickers would naturally violate them. Many women in Maiserwa prison attest to this rumor. Some of the prisoners were violated and raped by the smugglers. Fearing for their lives they agree to every want of these smugglers. Other women are asked to pay more money or be abandoned in the middle of nowhere. One girl was asked to pay double the agreed price or he would send her back. She was put in a hiding place in Shambko. She decided to pay rather than be caught going back to her home.    

These are some of the attestations that prove the rumors that these Eritreans face during the time they cross from one border to another border or when they are caught during the action. Not only the victims are questioned and held responsible. Families and friends are brought forth for questioning and torture. Some families were imprisoned when a single boy or girl was responsible for his own crime. This is only because they knew and did not inform the so called authorities which in this case are the interrogators themselves.