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5 Key Things to Understand about the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

5 Key Things to Understand about the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

By: Ray Ja Fraser

Days ago, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI), created to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Eritrea, produced its final report. This article outlines several of the key items to understand regarding the COI and its final report.

1. The UN’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) report is methodologically flawed, plagued by shortcomings, and it is hamstrung by a range of conflicts of interest.

These were covered in detail in a recent post (available here) by @RedSeaFisher, an active blogger. To summarize several points:

  • Data was fielded from asylum-seekers in two countries in ongoing conflict with Eritrea: Ethiopia and Djibouti. Asylum-seeking migrants have an inherent conflict of interest as they must maintain stories of persecution to gain asylum, compounded by the fact that they are situated in states hostile to Eritrea.
  • The COI failed to collect (let alone include) data and information from 1000s of other Eritreans, thus failing to “ensure the participation of all relevant stakeholders.” Furthermore, the COI also fielded information from officials of a state government (Ethiopia) that still has yet to lift its 1998 declaration of war against Eritrea. 
  • The COI manipulates its methodologies such that it fits its inquisitional wishes and it has basically non-existent evidentiary standards. Additionally, no transcripts of interviews are available, and there is no way to substantiate the claims made.
  • The UN commission never visited Eritrea.
  • Evidence shows that members of the COI are neither independent, impartial, or objective. For example, Sheila Keetharuth, who served as the lone Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Eritrea, is also a former employee of Amnesty International (AI), which has had a long and troubled relationship with the State of Eritrea, particularly since it was expelled in 2006 for failing to make public its finances. A leaked 2011 AI memo instructed its employees in nearby capitals in Africa, like Keetharuth, to “bring about change [in Eritrea] as has happened in other African and Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.”

2. The establishment of the commission and its data informants include a collection of foreign-funded regime-change activists.

The COI itself was lobbied for by groups who have openly called for regime change in Eritrea, while the rapporteur for the commission was nominated by Elsa Chyrum, a regime-change activist who has repeatedly called for sanctions against Eritrea. These individuals and groups, along with others that served as informants, experts, or consultants for the report, have received funding, training, and other support from an array of hostile foreign sources (including the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy) – many of which have been have been actively engaged in dozens of regime change operations globally.

3. The report has been quickly, widely, and uncritically disseminated and accepted as “truth.”

The report was quickly spread across social media, accompanied with sensationalist or negative headlines. Much of the early dissemination was conducted by fake online accounts, generally referred to as “sock puppets.” This strategy focuses on artificially stimulating online buzz, while trying to make it appear to be a spontaneous, grassroots trend. Mass tweeting and retweeting of messages not only helps generate attention and spread (mis)information, it also cycles the information to a wider audience (e.g. as a “top tweet”). Increasingly, sock puppets and fake accounts have been utilized for political, marketing, propaganda, and military purposes. Notably, the employment of fake accounts using negative headlines or false rumors has been used against Eritrea in the past, most (in)famously during the January 2013 “Forto” incident (covered in detail here).

Beyond its quick, broad dissemination, the report is discussed uncritically. As a basic example, allegations of 5,000 Eritreans fleeing per month are made alongside claims of an active shoot-to-kill policy at the border. Yet, consider that, even if border guards were only moderately accurate, thousands of Eritreans would be dead or wounded at the border – something for which there is no evidence.

Additionally, the astronomical number of migrants allegedly fleeing must be more closely explored. The COI overlooks the fact that by having designated Eritrean refugees as political refugees who are deserving of asylum, the U.S., Europe, and the UN have placed a “premium” on being Eritrean. Consider Ethiopia, which has nearly 100 million people, is even poorer than Eritrea, has several counter-insurgency wars, and a long, undisputed record of torture, mass arrests, and executions. Or alternatively, consider Somalia, with twice the population of Eritrea, and which has been devastated by wars and poverty for decades. Both these countries are supposedly positioned well-behind Eritrea in terms of refugees; however, it is an open secret that in many areas, many non-Eritrean refugees try to assume Eritrean identities since doing so strengthens their chances of remaining in receiving countries. The COI overlooks this key factor (and others, such as economic) that fuel migration, instead focusing on a narrow cause.

Last, many outlets discussed the report alongside sensationalist headlines, referring to Eritrea as “hell” and “the North Korea of Africa.” Such practice lacks due diligence, is quite irresponsible, and is rather inaccurate, as reflected by a spate of international delegates, foreign workers, tourists, and visitors who have consistently claimed otherwise. Just days prior to the release of the report, Norway’s Minister of Justice, visiting Eritrea, even claimed such descriptions were quite inaccurate.

4. The report is only the latest effort to destabilize Eritrea.

Over the years, there have been a variety of efforts to destabilize the country. For example, Eritrea has remained under sanctions for alleged support for terror, even while Wikileaks cables suggest sanctions were politically motivated and based on false evidence. Recently, Herman Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador, noted that “everyone agreed there was nothing going on between Eritrea and al Shabaab. But the U.S. didn’t want to lift sanctions.”

At other times, anti-Eritrean propaganda has included unsubstantiated allegations linking the government to human trafficking and the funding of rebels in Sri Lanka, and illogical claims Eritrea hosts both Iranian and Israeli military bases. The various and repeated attempts at destabilization and utilization of anti-government propaganda are quite similar to those against Cuba, Honduras, Venezuela, and Ecuador in recent years.

5. While the overall desire is regime change, the immediate target is ending international cooperation and development partnerships with Eritrea.

After decades of war and destruction, the government of Eritrea has invested massively in social programs, food security, infrastructure, healthcare, and education, raising the living standards of millions, while reducing inequality and poverty. The country’s record on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has received praise from various organizations and observers. Recently, Eritrea has experienced economic growth, eliciting the interest of an increasing number of international partners, while the country has negotiated several important development and infrastructure agreements. Opponents of Eritrea and regime-change activists seek to use the COI report as “evidence” towards pressuring the international community to end economic and development cooperation with Eritrea.

With Eritrea’s continued economic growth and tangible, positive development outcomes, the country’s opponents and regime-change proponents know that the government will maintain the support of the vast majority of the population. Thus, in such a case, opponents’ only recourse is to attempt to destabilize (e.g. through economic and development hardship) the government in order to prompt foreign intervention, unrest, or a coup d'état.

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5 Key Things to Understand about the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 12:39 AM Rating: 5


  1. ...and at the end, the'll fail miserably as we've seen it in the past...let's get united as ever and as always so their attempt to "regime-change" will fail again while our country, under the leadership of H.E. President Issayas Afewerki will prosper and prevail.

    Awet N'Hafash.

  2. ...look at the monkeys standing very obediently next to their boss...and they seem very glad and happy with whatever their boss is saying...what a shame of UN representative we've nowadays???

  3. Dear Sahle:

    You said,

    “...look at the
    monkeys standing very obediently next to their boss’” ,….,

    here is a clear evidence what type of uncivilized culture has PFDJ created and
    planted in this 21st century of integration and interdependency. We need to search a deep cleaner tool (whatever you call it) to get rid of the psychological linear line of thinking developed in the brain of our young people by this backward, static, shallow and narrow legacy of the PFDJ DNA using hate and brainwashing propaganda. PFDJ condemned the Eritrean young in DENIAL of the dynamic objective reality on the ground. They continue living in the older mind-set and stereo type permanent perception and historical legacy that is irrelevant for the state of dynamism (developmental law of nature). We call it NOSTALGIA. They still (rather persistently) assume that Gedli experience is the best. The world
    should learn from the ultra-superior Gedli experience (ARROGANCE).
    What a shame. As Eritrean, I am horrified. Please don't spoil the image of Eritrea and Eritreans by writing this primitive statements.

  4. I am really sorry I couldn't commensurate yr response visavis the topic written above. We ve met once and have agreed on one critical issue i.e working together. The following ending statement has strike me where you and I should should look at it very genuienly. " Thus, in such a case, opponents’ only recourse is to attempt to
    destabilize (e.g. through economic and development hardship) the
    government in order to prompt foreign intervention, unrest, or a coup
    The existing different view and concern could be narrowed by mutual understanding. The de-establishing concept is very annoying. We have passed the very hard way. We have finished the up and downs of misunderstanding such as religion, regions and political differences during the struggle and Eritrea became independent. The no peace no war situation didn't stop our gov't to implement the strategies designed to alleviate poverty. I hope the remaining would be to allow ourselves appreciate and support PFDJ's strong side and come up with soltution of he weak part. This is a wise outlook of a futurist citizen.

  5. Ata hawena, nay endamen tehalaqi iqa neseqa qe? Neàna esri biet ètsewu zebluna, nessom guantanamo deàtsewewo, metan gebre merih keqowen?

    Ne felete ina..propoganda aykonen..kete emeka bemanka koynu nayzi èwur àlem..

  6. The UN report is the newest sledge hammer blow to Issayas' thick skull. I doubt anything will sink in. It will be business as usual until Eritrea bleeds out completely. Turned into a petrified carcass at the foothills fo Nakfa, with vultures pick at what they can salvage.

  7. I thought the U. N visited eritrea in 2010....??

    Remember the first SEMG report? The one that came from the individuals who visited eritrea?

    The report got released, before USA quickly withdrew the report because it wasn't to hard on eritrea.

    Instead they re-wrote the report and started spreading nonsense.

  8. I agree with you on this one, Yohanes. Monkey, what is that?

  9. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 15, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    These kind of people are called The House Nigga and they obey their moster at cost. Malcolm X-> define them perfectly.

  10. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 15, 2015 at 12:05 PM

    Just to Add

    Like Thomas Keneally said...

    Thomas Keneally, the author of world’s bestselling novel, “Schindler’s List”, wrote the following observation while he once worked with the Eritrean Libration Fighters (EPLF), during the armed struggle. In his bestselling book titled “To Asmara”,

    He wrote the following:..

    “Do you know what the emergency really is? You want to hear about the really big emergency? The emergency is that if you guys [Eritreans] succeed [using your principle of self-reliance], you’ll be an embarrassment to Africa. Who wants a setup like yours? There aren’t many governments on this continent that do. There aren’t many governments in Europe. Colored folk who can look after themselves? It isn’t viable. It upsets the world picture. Don’t you know the West has to believe famine’s an act of God? If they believe that, they only have to make a donation. But if they believe it’s an act of bloody politics, they have to really do something, and that’s too, too complicated. So what is the story? The story is you guys will fall on your own f-ucking swords, because you’ve got this crazy idea that the world will allow you to be perfect!”

    ‘These guys [Eritreans] are astounding! Running all this. And you know what? The world hates ‘em for it! The world hooked into the idea of ‘the helpless Africans!“

    “You know what I think? They are brave to the point of folly and they’re clever to the point of being dumb. No one absolutely no one, from Washington to Moscow, wants them to succeed. No one. … God’s even taken the rain away from them, for Christ’s sake. Even he thinks they’re wrong-headed. The sin of pride … the sin of

    being sharp when no one wants them to be.”

  11. UN, an organization tasked with promoting world peace is in reality instigating war and destruction all around the so called developing world inhabited by non- whites. Instead of out right colonialism of yesteryears, today, they have the likes Sheila serving as the house negros and lending a brown face to white supermacy agendas championed by the decendants of Hitler et. al.

  12. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 15, 2015 at 12:57 PM

    Ha-ha-ha..Erty the desperate woyane's boy. :)

    Hey Erty or should i call u Stewie? Anyway are u here defending tigray. hahaha

    I read ur coments in the house of ugumetat.. and boy i laughed hard..u pple are clowns

    Erty· 12 weeks ago
    For sure Eritrea will take face saving retaliation. I hope Ethiopia has the best defense system in place. Mekelle and some part
    of Tigray have to be protected very well. Places that have very close proximity to Eritrea are venerable if Eritrea dares to retaliate. Tgray has been the heart of Ethiopia's defense line from north and Ethiopia must take extreme cautions not to lose a single life from our beloved tigrian people.

    Well Erty we will destroy Tigray.. just wait and see. the first battle ground will be inside Tigray.. it will look like Syria after that. :) :) :)

  13. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 15, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    First the UN attempted to strangle Eritrea economically, military, diplomatically & political advances & now stand to accuse of human rights abuse. lie after lie inorder to make Eritrea under their countrol. they want us to be pets of the west imperialism exctly like our neighbors from the south. UN its bcuz of you, we sufferd 30 yrs of WAR.

    This is ERITREA!! We will protect our country at all cost. Eritrea comes 1st!!!..

  14. Eritrea has become just empty bravado, a laughing stock, a deteriorating state, no vision for the long run. Eritrea of course will attack Ethiopia at one point to destroy itself. You have a point Eritrea will try to kill as many Ethiopia as possible before Eritrea kills itself. When Eritrean government officials trying to refute the recent UN report of Eritrean human right violation and crime against humanity they said over and again Ethiopia and Djibouti are Eritrea's enemies in the region. This is an implication where the Eritrean government stands when it comes to Ethiopian people. The Eritrean government thinks that taking Ethiopia as enemy and declaring as such in the international stages is better than facing the allegations by UN. It means Ethiopia to Eritrea has no any economic, social, and geopolitical value. We will see.

  15. For agame issue ask some Eritrean citizen from Akele guzay, who are the descendent of agame kingdom. For you information 85%eritrean people trace back their origin to Ethiopia. Seraye from shire and Adwa, Hamassien from Gonder, mostly from Denbia, of course akele guzay from the Agame kingdom. When you are name calling you are scratching the face of most of Eritrean citizen. In addition Seraye, akele guzay ,and hamassien people are orthodox, they speak Tigrigna, walk and talk like Ethiopian.

  16. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 15, 2015 at 3:08 PM

    Ha-ha.. woyane's boy don't get angry.. i said we're going to atcack Agame-tigray to get back our land not Ethiopia. and this time u are on ur own...No Oromo,Gambela or Ogaden will die for that so called Abay tigray. :)

  17. saying Woyane , Tigray is politically correct way of Ethiopia. You are saying if Ethiopia attacks part of Eritrea like Assab administration, it would be ok with Eritrea. You don't even know what you are talking about, you don't understand political speech to make sound that speech to be acceptable by a group to achieve a general ambitions. Ethiopia is just going to sit and watch if Eritrea comes after woyane. What a smart teen you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last time Eritrea came to badme, Ethiopian didn't respond because Eritrea was just trying to control badme, right

  18. You are so naïve. Other nationalities all will align themselves with Eritrea to fight Woyne. By the way listen to your ambassadors in Kenya and your united nation representative New York interview. They didn't even try to be politically correct you are trying to be here. They flatly said Ethiopia is our enemy. They included Djibouti too.

  19. Don't exploit children Eritrea, that was UN message, remember.

  20. Eritrea is shooting in the dark. Data is not collected form two countries only . Data was collected from more than 16 countries from Eritrean all walks of life. Ethiopia is just one place that was visited by the commission. Ethiopia was one part of the commissions collecting information because Ethiopia hostess the largest Eritrean refuges. Transcripts of interviews are available but not shown because people in Eritrea would be targeted by the government. All transcripts are available if any court requires it.
    Information now days travel with speed of light not by camel like in Eritrea. If the report is disseminated too fast, it is too bad, it is the from fact of the day has nothing to do with Eritrea. The commission has three people in it white black from Africa, the composition of the commission is as diverse as it can be. If Eritrea is destabilized or the situation is calling for regime change in Eritrea, it is unfortunate the government brought this on itself by being so oppressive for a long time. The commission's report just highlighted the problem in Eritrea for the world in which the world would become together to stop the carnage in Eritrea. Destabilized Eritrea is better than a country ruled by fear not by law.

  21. You figured out every thing what is wrong with this report. I am just commenting to lead you to your favorite thing, insulting. Without it you sound phony. You and your friend Hallal both are good spokesperson for Eritrea who can not convey a message without name calling. Conversation in any shape or form is not you guys take I suggest you learn how to do that before commenting on any issues, otherwise stay being on street where you view of the world originated.

  22. Some Eritrea does not even know the Eritrean army is taken over by Ethiopian opposition groups military wing. The Eritrean government does not trust its own military rather trusting Ethiopian opposition military who are going to fight for Eritrea in order for this groups to stay relevant in the game. Most military operation in Eritrea is under the command of Ethiopian opposition military wing who earned the trust of the Eritrean regime. But, some of the units of the Eritrean military is so infiltrated by Ethiopia security forces, the Ethiopian security for the most part are aware of every movement of strategic hard wares in Eritrea and how often these hard wares are moved from one place to another to disguise any attack by Ethiopian military force. There was some news in Arabic on this issues very recently how bad the military in Eritrea is infiltrated and how the Ethiopian opposition military wing is controlling the Eritrean security apparatus.

  23. You will soon witness that merciless UN comes back at you Tgrayans. Just accomplish their mission and the result will not be better than your former rulers Hailat, Mengistu, Meles. Your end is terrible!..... lehulum gzye alew yblu nay Qedem goytotka....LOL

  24. The reason you tgrayans poisoned Meles Zenawi for his Eritrean blood...... ? Sure.

  25. Don't you get tired? Of lies and some random analysis which you day dream about and post here as a comment? What type of cadre are you anyway? you are an insult to the Ethiopian government "propoganda aparatus" do you believe even for a second that any sane Eritrean would take you seriously? you must be fool..btw it is not Eritrea that will attack but Ethiopia and when that all out war happen as you think it will then it will be the end of the regime in 4 for Eritrean Army my brothers are always ready and so am I for that matter..on top of that we have all the opposition in Eritrean mountains ready for your for security dont worry we know what the Eritreans accomplished. .the only chance you had to infeltrate was through amiches and allas none of keep up the dream as long us it keeps you sleeping.

  26. That is scary. Where do you get that?

  27. What happened to the trenches you used to dig? You find out the hard way that is not going to work, ha. Now you are on top of the mountains ready to fight. We will see how nature is going to help you win war against Ethiopia. It didn't work before, I don't think it matters now either.

  28. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    Well, u misunderstood me... The Oromo,Ogaden and Gambela are fighting for their independence, when they achieve that.. we will let them use our ports to build their country free from woyane-tigray. :)

  29. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 6:07 AM

    "some of the units of the Eritrean military is so infiltrated by Ethiopia security forces, the Ethiopian security"

    Ha-ha-ha.. its the other way around.. but yet again u are defending ur beloved the apartheid regime woyane-tigray. so talking with u is like talking with a wall. :)

  30. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 6:09 AM

    "btw it is not Eritrea that will attack but Ethiopia and when that all out war happen as you think it will then it will be the end of the regime in 4 killo"

    Indeed- very well said.

  31. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    Ha-ha-ha this time no one will save Abay-tigray not even the US, u know just like Yemen. :)

  32. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 6:26 AM

    Nope, woyane-tigray is exploiting from selling children, who knows this pple could be murderers,pedopile, but woyane-tigray only cares about the money baby.They are selling childrens to every white pple with the green. and when they sell them and the whites throw them in the streets of the west.

  33. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    BTW Erty, why do u tried to act like an Eritrea with ur another pen name "Stewie" in TN? is it bcuz no one is listening to u about ur beloved woyane-tigray's agenda? Masquerading seems to be ur job. :(

  34. ..ooops! i'm sorry if you see that as "primitive statements"...Mr. Yohannes, this has nothing to do with's my own statement...whether primitive or else, this's how i can describe these craps....and for your info, PFDJ, whether you and your bosses like it or not, is the only power/party who snatched the Eritrean Independence from the hands of your bosses and gave to eritreans ( I'm sorry if you're not part of them) the freedom which we cried for long and we're enjoying it...anyway whatever i say, you don't have to this's an eritrean matter and it concern us only...stay out of our issues...

  35. ..kind of you and Yohannes...

  36. Ata agame...zeitghedfena ikha....get out of this site you monkey. Mesiluka deamber, Eritreans are no more going to buy your shit of regionalism, religion fighting....try to save your Ethiopia from the regionalism, religion fights...if you can...

  37. Ata Alec hawey...intay ina'mo knghebr ms izom hassadat, kewhi ruusom?

  38. abti SAWA amtzina'do kurub kinmehrom???

  39. ኣሌክ - Alec youJune 16, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    Yep, we think we are talking to someone-- but its like 1 person with 5 pen name like that Erty. hired chifra woyane.

  40. Dear Sahle and your Ilk:

    After reading what you and your ilk wrote, my worries about the future of Eritrea elevated higher and higher. You see the magnitude of your ignorance and primitiveness. It is indeed horrifying scenario. Wow, how can we dream to see a prosperous and viable Eritrea with this grass eating and myopic so called PFDJ supporters???

    I can imagine the level of destruction the PFDJ malignancy will leave behind as evil legacy. Economic problems? …can be revitalized thanks to the hardworking and genuine Eritrean compatriots. But the biggest legacy is the
    social and cultural crises. This will be the real ugly legacy of PFDJ Junta
    (producing like you and you ilk). I remember what the Chairman of the
    South African Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) ones said: "Our biggest
    challenge is not to empower the black South Africans economically but to
    empower them psychologically after 400 years of mental subjugation". I
    admire this wise quotation. Why he said this? ...Because the white South Africans and their supporters in the West tirelessly worked to portray that a black South African (A black person) is inferior to the white man and born to serve the white man. I am sorry, but I can observe how big the damage inflicted by PFDJ to the Socio-cultural attributes of Eritrea. This is particularly reflective on the young supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow.
    God should give mercy to Eritrea and the Eritrean people.

    Now look what you and blinded PFDJ supporters (carnival barkers and bloviating ignoramus) and others label guanine Eritreans with reason, intellect and critical thinkers. if they talk about the reality in Eritrea. I think better to be frank and thoughtful on this. I don't think the Tigrians have time to the Ancha Grancha with us here. They are just observing us in our process of self-destruction. The agony is that the blind PFDJ supporters like you are not realizing this bitter reality. Please let us discuss how we can save our country from the jaws of PFDJ crocodiles. Otherwise, the regret will be beyond our mental capacity. I can assure you this forthcoming unfortunate scenario.

  41. Sahle:
    You are a number over zero. I don't know how can I define you in this 21st century. The pen is sharper than the sword. Erty is giving you the lesson use it and benefit from it. That is the reality check. What ever his nationality, I admire him. Eritrea needs this kind of young talent trust. If his is Tigrean, then good for Tigray. Sahle learn and be civilized.

  42. Ayte Yohannes, all you talk is civilized, uncivilized...21st century...i need to rest...i've to join my brothers at the biggest demonstration against the UN...leave me alone...i don't need neither you or Erty to lecture me on how to behave....i've my PFDJ...we've got a lot of work to do...sorry

  43. What work to destroy this noble country, Eritrea. Isn't it enough now. Please, stop and think twice. Look how the country is degraded under your PFDJ draconian governance. I wish that you participate in any course of action to get rid of this mafia PFDJ. Fight for justice and freedom for the Eritrean people. I don't think our people will face worse that this quagmire.


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