AN (ELF-RC – low level members – risk) Eritrea CG  UKIAT 00300
Date of hearing: 6 May 2004
Date Determination notified: 9 November 2004
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
"Human Rights violations continue to be reported, inter alia, with regard to the treatment of opposition political groups and movements, freedom of expression, arbitrary detention and detention conditions (including reports of torture, ill-treatment and forced labour) and treatment of draft evaders and deserters"
"Against this background, it appears that the deportees from Malta to Eritrea may have faced persecution owing to an imputed political opinion, conscientious objection or other reasons. It cannot be excluded that future deportees would face similar risk."
'6.87 In 1987 the EPLF, uniting with an Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) action, agreed a policy objective of creating a multi-party democratic system in a future independent state. At independence in 1991 when the victorious EPLF formed the Provisional Government of Eritrea, there was no reconciliation between the ruling EPLF and the ELF rivals. However, ELF members were allowed to return to Eritrea at intervals on condition that they renounced opposition to a government of union, prior to the official creation of opposition parties due for 1998 (interrupted by war with Ethiopia).
6.88 Some ELF members complied, such as the Eritrean Liberation Front-Unified Organisation (ELF-UO), whose leaders were given government and military posts. Others, such at the Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionary Council (ELF-RC), remained in opposition – many launching a new armed struggle from bases in Sudan, others engaging solely in political opposition in exile.
6.89 There were unconfirmed reports in 2002 that the government continued to detain numerous members of the armed opposition group ELF.
6.90 The organisation is still active in exile, mainly in Sudan and Ethiopia and the government's reaction to returning members of ELF or ELF-RC will depend on the position held in the organisations and the type of activity undertaken. These who had been responsible for anything that could be interpreted as terrorism or violence may be likely to come to the attention of the authorities.
6.91 ELF members have been encouraged by the government to return to Eritrea and have apparently not faced repercussions for their past activities. All of those that have returned are thought to have renounced further opposition activities in favour of unity through the EPLF/PFDJ.
6.92 Although the ELF are quiet and are seen as largely irrelevant in Eritrea, it is believed that there may still be some active members of the ELF factions in Eritrea, especially on the Sudanese border or in the north of the country. They do not openly conduct opposition activities and a view was expressed in Eritrea to the UK fact-finding mission in November 2002 that many Eritreans feel that the various branches around the world exist only to make money for themselves.
6.93 ELF-RC withdrew from the Eritrean National Alliance (ENA) an opposition umbrella group, formally the AENF, in October 2002, to protest the ENA's alleged willingness to allow foreign forces to exert pressure on its operations including on matters dealing with the election of its leadership.'
'I accept her evidence that their role within the organisation was to distribute leaflets and posters with her husband.
I do not, however, accept that her role within the organisation ever lead (sic) her to come to the adverse attention of the authorities in Eritrea or is likely to be in the future.
I conclude that the appellant would be at no risk if she were removed to Eritrea now. The objective evidence makes it clear that persons in the position of the appellant (as on her own evidence) would not now be of any adverse interest to the authorities.'
'The Government's poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit serious abuses. Citizens did not have the ability to change their government, which was controlled completely by the PFDJ. There were some reports, difficult to confirm, that the police occasionally resorted to torture and physical beatings of prisoners, particularly during interrogations, and police severely mistreated army deserters and draft evaders.
The transitional Penal Code prohibits torture; however, there were some unconfirmed reports that the police at least occasionally resorted to torture and physical beating of prisoners, particularly during interrogations. During the year, the police severely mistreated and beat army deserters and draft evaders. The police subjected deserters and draft evaders to various military disciplinary actions that included prolonged sun exposure in temperatures of up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit or the tying of the hands and feet for extended periods of time.'
'There were reports of numerous politically motivated detentions of those who were seen as critical of the government, many of whom remained in prison at year's end. Many were perceived to have ties to political dissidents or were believed to have spoken against government activities.
In addition to the high profile arrest in 2001, the government arrested at least eight additional individuals, many of them with known or suspected ties to political dissidents, and detained them without charge and without access to visitors at year's end. There were numerous unconfirmed reports that the number of such persons detained may be several hundred.'
'There were reports that the government continued to hold numerous members of the ELF, as armed opposition group that fought against Ethiopia during the struggle for independence.'
'Arbitrary arrests and prolonged imprisonment without trial have not been limited to political leaders and the press. The government detained two hundred and fifty refugees who fled Eritrea but were involuntarily repatriated from Malta in late 2002. They were still being held in incommunicado detention at the end of 2002.'
'Hundreds of political detainees detained in previous years remained held in secret without charge or trial.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of government opponents were alleged to be still secretly detained. Some had been members of the former Ethiopian administration and surrendered in 1991 or had been abducted from Addis Ababa and handed over to the new Eritrean government. Others were captured ELF opposition fighters or suspected supporters, or government critics, including some long-serving EPLF commanders or members. Some appeared to be prisoners of conscience.'
'Based on various reports, it appears that the human rights situation in Eritrea has seriously deteriorated in the past two years. Human rights violations continue to be reported, inter alia, with regard to the treatment of opposition political groups and movement, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, arbitrary detention and detention conditions (including reports of torture, ill-treatment and forced labour) and treatment of draft evaders/deserters.
Against this background, it appears that deportees from Malta to Eritrea may have faced persecution, owing to an imputed political opinion, conscientious objection or other reasons. It cannot be excluded that other deportees would face a similar risk.
In the light of the above, UNHCR recommends that asylum claims submitted by Eritrean asylum seekers should undergo a careful assessment to determine their need of international protection. It is also recommended that states refrain from all forced returns of rejected asylum seekers to Eritrea and grant them complementary forms of protection instead, until further notice. This position will be reviewed in the second half of 2004.'
"An unknown number of persons suspected of association with the Ethiopian Mengistu regime, Islamic elements considered radical, or suspected terrorist organisations continue to remain in detention without charge, some of who have been detained for more than nine years.'
'ELF-RC members are still the targets of the dictatorial regime in Eritrea regardless of their rank or degree of contribution to our struggle. More so after the regime has become increasingly to voice of opposition and is cracking down on the dissidents within its ranks.'