Paris — The newly appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Beedwantee Keetharuth, urged the Eritrean Government to cooperate with an international mandate to provide "an objective, fair and impartial picture" of the human rights situation in the Red Sea nation.
"I hope that the Eritrean Government would consider the mandate of the Special Rapporteur as an opportunity to start a fresh and constructive dialogue on human rights issues that have been raised by the international community and other stakeholders" said Keetharuth.
The UN independent expert further expressed her hopes that authorities in Eritrea would understand her mandate as an opportunity "to carefully address Eritrea's compliance with its human rights obligations as contained in international treaties to which the country is a party."
"The aim was to introduce myself and present my vision of the mandate in a spirit of openness, as well as to explore avenues for cooperation. Unfortunately these meetings have not yet taken place," Ms. Keetharuth said. "I have now requested to travel to Eritrea in early 2013."
As a start of her mandate Keetharuth will first meet Eritrean diplomats in Europe and will further engage with other civilians, civil society actors and other victims of alleged human rights violations.
The special Rapporteur is expected to present her primary report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after 30 years of armed struggle.
However, the current President Isaias Afwerki who assumed power since independence turned the tiny nation into one of the world's most repressive nations.
He is accused of banning all independent human rights organizations as well as an independent press.
There are widespread allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as restrictions to freedom of speech.
Right groups have labeled Eritrea as world's leading giant prisons and Africa's foremost jailer for Journalists.
Afwerki led Eritrean government doesn't allow any opposition group to function legally and the country has never had elections since independence.
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council last July, adopted a resolution in which it strongly condemned what it said was "the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean authorities, the severe restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, and the forced conscription of citizens for indefinite periods" and then decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur.