UK Calls for Protection of Religious Freedom in Eritrea After Several Christians Are Arrested and Catholic Hospitals Are Closed

Christian migrants from Eritrea and Ethiopia pray during the Sunday mass at the makeshift church in “The New Jungle” near Calais, France / REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The UK has added its voice to calls for the protection of religious freedom in Eritrea following the arbitrary arrest of Christians and the closure of multiple Catholic-run hospitals.

At the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UK said it welcomed Eritrea’s increasing engagement with the Human Rights Council, but called on the country to respect freedom of religion and belief, and release all those in arbitrary detention.

“We welcome Eritrea’s increasing engagement with the Human Rights Council and encourage the Government to strengthen its cooperation with the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in order to achieve improvements in the human rights situation in Eritrea,” it said.

The UK said that Eritrea remained a “priority country” for its work on human rights.

“We renew calls for the Government of Eritrea to reform the national service system, implement the constitution, respect freedom of religion or belief, respect freedom of expression and release all those in arbitrary detention. We strongly support the Council’s continued focus on these issues,” it said.

Christians in Eritrea continue to be targeted in recent months. Last month, authorities seized over 20 Catholic-operated hospitals after bishops spoke out against the regime of Isaias Afwerki, who has held office since 1993.

Daniela Kravetz, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea said: “These actions show that, despite the improved regional climate for peace and security, the human rights situation in Eritrea remains unchanged.”

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SOURCE: Christian Today