US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, should demand the release of all prisoners arbitrarily detained solely for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression and freedom of belief, including Ciham Ali who also holds US citizenship, when he visits Eritrea in the coming days, said Amnesty International.
Ciham Ali was arrested in 2012, when she was 15-years-old, for trying to leave the country in violation of Eritrea’s national service policy. She has been held incommunicado and her family has not seen or heard from her since.
“Assistant Secretary Nagy has emphasized the urgent need to address Eritrea’s dire human rights record – he will have no better opportunity to do so than this visit,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“At the top of his agenda must be the alarming number of prisoners of conscience arbitrarily detained in the country just for speaking their minds. Thousands of people like Ciham Ali are languishing in Eritrean jails having never been charged or tried for any crime simply for exercising their human rights.
“For the past six years, Ciham’s family has been robbed of a beloved daughter but they have not lost hope of seeing her again. Assistant Secretary Nagy must make robust representations to push for the immediate and unconditional release of both Ciham and all those detained across the country solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.”
Assistant Secretary Nagy must also call on the Eritrean authorities to end the practice of indefinite conscription into mandatory national service and promptly demobilize those who have served beyond the 18 months’ period prescribed by the law. He must also remind the authorities to ensure that the national service system makes provision for conscientious objection that includes the option to perform an appropriate alternative non-punitive service.