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Western diplomats and experts criticize COIE's controversial report on Eritrea

Tourists visiting beautiful, Asmara, Eritrea, or as COIE would like to call it, "Western tourists enjoying crimes against humanity". (Photo Credit: Eritrea In-Pictures - May 2016)


The following are recent comments made by Western diplomats living in Eritrea and think tanks/scholars on the Commission of Inquiry's controversial report on Eritrea: 

Bronwyn E. Bruton, Deputy Director of the Council's Africa Center, described the COIE team's methodology as "shockingly poor scholarship" and added if an undergrad tried to ignore academic scholarship and only spoke to people who agreed with him/her like the COIE has, he'd/she'd get flunked. She wrote:

"There are also a lot of problems with the Commission of Inquiry’s research methodology in producing the original report. The Commission refused to consider the academic literature on Eritrea; refused to use press reports; refused to speak with experts who’d traveled recently to the country; refused to speak to UN staff and Western diplomats inside the country; and refused to consider the testimony of many thousands of Eritreans who supported the government. They spoke only to refugees who self-identified as having suffered violations of their rights, and because Sudan and Djibouti refused (like Eritrea) to host the COIE, the team was only able to do field research in Ethiopia, which is effectively at war with Eritrea. Obviously, this is shockingly poor scholarship—if a college undergrad tried to ignore all academic scholarship and spoke only to people who agreed with him, he’d get flunked out of school. But this methodology might nevertheless send Eritrea to the ICC. And it has, not surprisingly, provoked a strong sense of outrage among many Eritreans, and I think it will add to this narrative in Africa that the ICC, and Western human rights organizations more broadly, are unjust institutions."  

While on a trip to Eritrea, BBC journalist Mary Harper found out that Western diplomats based in the country consider COIE's reports as "unhelpful" and not reflecting the reality of the country. She reported:

"Western and other diplomats based in Asmara tell me the Commission of Inquiry's report is "unhelpful" and does not reflect accurately the current situation in Eritrea."

Redie Bereketeab, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor at the Nordic Africa Institute, believes the extremely poor methodological shortcomings of the COI indicates the group, and/or its informants, may be politically motivated. He wrote:

"COI’s research methodology is deficient. It depends on information from disgruntled government opponents, asylum seekers and neighbouring countries with serious disagreements with Eritrea. All informants are anonymous, making it impossible to verify their information. Accusations of this kind should be open and transparent. The known witnesses should provide sworn testimony in a court of law. The methodological shortcomings suggest that the three man commission, and/or its informants, may be politically motivated. This situation by no means exonerates the Eritrean government of human rights violations in Eritrea. However, Western diplomats there reject the charges and believe that Eritrea is no worse than many of its neighbours."

Dr. Tanja R. Müller, Senior Lecturer in Global Development, points out that the three-panel group doesn't even bother to verify the testimonies it received from the anonymous individuals. He said:

"Human rights advocacy might not be social science, but one would at least expect inconsistencies to be followed up. A prime example of those has travelled the internet widely, when a representative of Canadian mining company, Nevsun, accused in the 2015 COIE report to use slave labour to dig “underground tunnels” at Bisha mine in Eritrea, made the point that Bisha is in fact an open-pit mine. "

A western diplomat currently living in Eritrea, rejected the Commission of  Inquiry's Eritrea report as "groundless accusation!". She tweeted:

"According to COI's Mike Smith: 400.000 slaves in Eritrea? In 2 years I didn't realize? Not just me also the large int. community? Groundless accusations!"

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Western diplomats and experts criticize COIE's controversial report on Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 12:56 AM Rating: 5

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