Friday, December 30, 2005

Beware of BT automobiles, 5th floor, HFCK building

By GEORGE THIGE
For those who are car-hunting....please watch out!!!
Dear friends,
Take some little time to read my true story at the hands of the above named conmen. I know you are busy Kenyans but take a little time to read. It might save you or your friend a lot of agony. Kindly circulate to all your friends.
My story may protect someone from the agony i went through trying to acquire a used M/v from Japan using a local company.
I was lookiing to import a Toyota from Japan and being the Kenyan i am was afraid of sending money to unknown companies advertising on the web.
I found my choices limited to the numerous companies that advertise on the thursday nation quoting the CIF cost of the various makes of vehicles.
On a simple comparison I chose one company that seemed to be offering the most competitive price.
They were actually quoting $500 less than their nearest rival.
I called them up to enquire and soon was heading to the 5th Floor of HFCK building to a company called BT automobiles.
I requested for reference on people who had imported using them as agents and was given a few names mostly of people who had imported tractors.
After I noticed the well set offices and the smart looking employees I was convinced that they were above board.
After a few meetings with them, i managed to identify a suitable vehicle of which i readily paid a down payment of Kes 150,000.
This money was meant to be for 50% CIF cost of the vehicle and kes 5,000 for the IDF application.
I was given an order form that reflected the breakdown of the cost and the engine and chasis number of the car I had chosen.
I was informed that they would process my car and that i would pay the balance once the car was shipped approximately in 30 days.
After 1 month I started pursuing the documentation for the car and that is where things started going very awry.
On requesting for a copy of the IDF form I was given a feint scanned document of the same.
On close scrutiny, I discovered that the engine number and chasis number was different and that the vehicle was diesel instead of petrol.
I started demanding explanations and alot of lame excuses were being offered of a mix up.
My alarm bells started ringing very hard and i decided to start probing.
No sooner had I started probing than I received a call from the Director informing me that my car had arrived in Mombasa and might be shipped back because I had not paid the balance.
I demanded to obtain a copy of the TT showing that my initial deposit had been remmitted to Japan.
After a cat and mouse game, BT produced an e-mail communication supposedly coming from the exporter in Japan acknowleding receipt of money.
An insider managed to inform me that the email was fraudulent and I managed to discover that the email address was actually non existent.
I started demanding my money from BT with the threats that I would take the fraud copies to the CID. I was immediately paid back 100,000 in cash.
This money was refunded after another client had also made a down payment for a car which would never come. The balance of the money was to be refunded in a weeks time but delays and false promises started to translate into months.
After a lot of quarrels and near fights BT gave me a cheque which obviously bounced.
I went to central police station to complain only to be told that there was nothing the cops could do about the case.
Later I discovered that the owner of BT had very "good" connections with Central and Kilimani police station. 
The cops will not lift a finger claiming that it is a civil suit whilst they know that BT is a con game.
A little about BT. BT is owned by a certain Zachary Kariuki.
The gentleman is never in the office but is to be found sipping coffee at the Grand Regency and chatting with buddies at the Lillian Towers. 
The other Director is a certain Pastor Kangethe.
I hear he pastors a church in Ongata Rongai. 
The two gentlemen are hiding under the guise that they are born again christians to fleece un-suspecting kenyans of their hard earned cash.
I finally managed to get a full refund of my money after I cajoled, coerced, threatend and made a huge scene at their office.
Other people who have fallen under the trap of these two gentleman keep flocking and sending lawyer demand letters to no avail.
I pray that no one else will ever fall into the hands of this sweet and smart talking conmen.
Be warned. Please be your brother's keeper and forward this mail to as many friends as possibe.
 


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Global economics demystified

If this doesn't beat the economics you learnt in school I don't know what else will! This is called theory in practice, thanks to an e-mail from a friend (it ain't my own original creation)!
 
1. SOCIALISM:
You have 2 cows and you give one to your neighbour.

2. COMMUNISM:
You have 2 cows, the Government takes both and gives you some milk.

3. FASCISM:
You have 2 cows, the Government takes both and sells you some milk.

4. NAZISM:
You have 2 cows. The Government takes both and shoots you.

5. BUREAUCRATISM:
You have 2 cows; the Government takes both, shoots one, milks the other and throws the milk away...

6. TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

7. AN AMERICAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow dropped dead.

8. A FRENCH CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

9. A JAPANESE CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

10. A GERMAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

11. AN ITALIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

12. A RUSSIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

13. A SWISS CORPORATION:
You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

14. A CHINESE CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

15. AN INDIAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You worship them.

16. A BRITISH CORPORATION:
You have two cows. Both are mad.

17. A KENYAN CORPORATION:
You have two cows. You eat both.

 


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Friday, December 16, 2005

Nice act chief, but how about the fat cats of big time sleaze elsewhere?

The Kenya Police is extremely disturbed by reports of fraud and influence peddling observed at the just concluded recruitment exercise.

My briefing to the recruiting officers that was attended by the media was very clear on the need to recruit deserving candidates in a transparent and competitive manner.

At the beginning of the recruitment exercise, I invited the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission to monitor the exercise as part of our collective effort to eradicate corruption.

I wish to commend them for their effort in exposing such incidents regardless of the identity of the perpetrators or their status in society. This is the essence of the rule of law.

The seriousness of the criminal acts reported cast doubt on validity of the recruitment exercise.

Besides being a crime, such acts subvert the trust and confidence of our people and serve to alienate the Police from the citizens at a time when we committed to creating a partnership with the populace in fighting crime.

The issue is not about the number of instances reported, for I will not tolerate even one incident of criminal behavior. There can be no substitute to upholding ethical standards.

Our Government is committed to zero tolerance to corruption. Indeed His Excellency the President has repeatedly made that very clear, as recently as the Jamhuri Day celebrations.

Accordingly, I have today cancelled the results of the entire recruitment exercise.

Additionally, I have with immediate effect, interdicted all officers involved in the recruitment exercise pending the outcome of investigations into their personal conduct during the exercise. Any officer implicated will be dealt with internally and prosecuted before a court of law.

Like I said, there can be tolerance to criminality in the Police or anywhere else. Obviously, those who performed their duties well have nothing to fear.

Even in the absence of immediate tangible evidence, the perception that the conduct of the exercise was not above board is sufficient in my mind to nullify the exercise in its entirety. That is the seriousness with which I take such issues.

Where crimes have been committed, we in the Police cannot resort to denial as this would be tantamount to a cover up.

This would be both illegal and unethical for an institution that seeks to nurture professional values in the performance of our duty.

The Kenya Police will announce the new recruitment dates through the print and electronic media as soon as administrative arrangements are finalized.

Measures to ensure non-recurrence of similar incidents in the next recruitment will be put in place but will not be made public for obvious reasons.

Additionally, the Kenya Police will make available to the public and the media the evidence and findings of our investigations. I expect the investigations to be finalized within the next one month.

Let me assure you that, as the Commissioner of Police, I will not waver in confronting sleaze or any other crime regardless of who the perpetrators may be.

I have been, and will continue to be very firm and resolute on matters of public transparency and accountability in the Kenya Police.

I wish to reiterate here that incidents of this nature, unfortunate as they may be, will not affect our collective commitment to reforming the Police into an effective and responsive institution or roll back the impressive gains we have made so far.

I invite any member of the public with information or complaints regarding this recruitment exercise to come to Police Headquarters or write giving details of acts they witnessed for immediate action.

I also wish to remind members of the public that corruption is a crime and they should also refrain from attempting to have their relatives recruited using unscrupulous methods.

This way, we all contribute towards fighting crime.

Thank You

MOHAMED HUSSEIN ALl MGH, MBS
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE


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Will Your Church Be Closed For Christmas?

By PAUL PROCTOR

CHRISTMAS IS GOING to fall on Sunday this year. That hasn't happened since 1994 and won't happen again until 2011. In years past, this might not have been much of an issue; but considering today's chummy Church of charm and chatter and the celebrated catapulting of all inconvenience, discomfort and offense from among the brethren; I would say the following question is in order:
Will your church be closed for Christmas?
The blind irony of it all is just magnificent; like the Chief Priests and Scribes not wanting to kill Jesus on the Passover. (Mark 14: 1-2)
It was brought to my attention recently by someone whose daughter was so disappointed by her church's decision to not hold worship services on Sunday, December 25th that she wrote her pastor in protest. After telling the young lady how much he loved her, this courageous Man of God actually chastised her for questioning the consensus; citing, among other things, the difficulty of rounding up day care workers on Christmas and the importance of being with family; adding pathetically that we really don't know what day Jesus was born on anyway.
I'm sure the Wise Men from the East and their enormous entourage could have come up with a lot better excuses than these for not following that Star through the night to worship the Christ Child; not to mention Noah, Abraham, Moses and David and all the logistical problems they had to endure in their worship and service to the Almighty; and the Apostles as they struggled through the remainder of their persecuted lives
taking the Gospel to a strange and hostile world.
No, it seems this year many of us are going to honor that Blessed One who was born to be nailed to a Cross for our sakes and sins by taking our ease, trading our toys, watching our TVs and munching out en masse before happy nappy time.
I don't know about you; but I'm just glad the Lord has never been pragmatic; especially during that memorable visit to the Garden of Gethsemane where He sweat drops of blood over all that awaited Him while the leaders of the soon-to-be church, snoozed.
Well friends, it seems the church is spiritually dozing off once again; because if you haven't yet noticed, food, family, fun and fellowship have now become the new measure of all things Christian; and beginning this Christmas, officially more important than gathering on Sunday to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth.
Take a look at all of the websites, promos, commercials, brochures, and bulletins of today's more popular churches in your community and notice, if you will, what they glorify and promote just in pictures alone. Chances are you'll see nothing portraying the terrible cost of discipleship and the inherent loneliness and suffering of the Christian that was so prevalent in the Early Church and throughout the New Testament; only very attractive and photogenic church members, models and musicians laughing, singing and frolicking about before the camera's lens as if following Christ was just another fashionable form of entertainment or recreation reserved for the beautiful, privileged, talented and well-to-do.
From a pragmatic perspective, I suppose it's really not all that strange that today's church, being big business now, would be closed on Christmas Sunday considering they're run these days by CEOs and consultants rather than under-shepherds and bondservants, except that more and more big businesses are opening on days once set aside for worship; point being, the sacred and the secular are trading places leaving the world around them morally and spiritually confused.
Unfortunately, when you muddy the "rivers of living water" for fun and profit, you're not left with much to drink.
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." - Hebrews 10:23-25.
 


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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Georgetown Sells Out to the Saudis

By ALEXANDER H. JOFFE
FrontPage Magazine
December 15, 2005
The news that Prince Alaweed bin Talal has given $20 million each to Georgetown and Harvard should come as no surprise. The prince, reputed to be the world's fifth wealthiest man, is a smart shopper. He is best known in the U.S., however, for a rare misstep, a gift of $10 million to the Twin Towers Fund after 9/11 that was refused by then Mayor Rudy Guiliani after the prince's ill-timed call for America to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."
The prince's goals for his gift are straightforward:
"As you know, since the 9/11 events, the image of Islam has been tarnished in the West," said Alwaleed, who is chairman of the Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co. and has extensive business holdings in Europe and the United States. He said his gifts to Georgetown and Harvard will be used "to teach about the Islamic world to the United States."
That Islam's "image" was "tarnished" after the "9/11 events" seems a fairly minor consequence of mass murder. But the prince is surprisingly forthright in his desire to refurbish Islam's image rather than address any underlying problems, such as its occasionally homicidal loathing of non-Muslims.
In giving money to Georgetown University, the prince can be assured that he will get his money's worth. The university's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding has quickly been renamed in the prince's honor and, according the Center's director, John Esposito, "A significant part of the money will be used to beef up the think tank part of what the Center does.."
Indeed, Esposito, already an apologist for Islam's retrograde inclinations such as jihad and trumpeter of its perennial victimization by the West, makes it perfectly clear that he is the prince's man:
When asked about the comments that caused the rejection of Alwaleed's gift to New York, Esposito said: "There is nothing wrong with his expressing his opinion on American foreign policy. Clearly, it was done in a constructive way. He was expressing his enormous sympathy with the United States but also trying to give people the context in which this [terrorist attack] occurred."
Let us all celebrate context and freedom of _expression, if only from critics of America. But the prince's gift, and indeed, his stated intention, will be to blunt critics of Islam in the future through education, for that is the mission statement of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, "to build stronger bridges of understanding between the Muslim world and the West as well as between Islam and Christianity. The Center's mission is to improve relations between the Muslim world and the West and enhance understanding of Muslims in the West."
Here too, Esposito is already rising to the task:
Up to now, he said, the center has not had enough resources "to respond to the tremendous demand that is out there, from the government, church and religious groups, the media and corporations to address and answer issues like, ‘What is the actual relationship between the West and the Muslim world? Is Islam compatible with modernization?' Now we can run workshops and conferences [on these subjects] both here and overseas."
Given Esposito's track-record and that of the center, not to mention the intentions of the prince, we have little doubt that the answers provided will be satisfactory. Along with Yvonne Haddad, John Voll, and other faculty members, Esposito and the newly invigorated center will be even better situated to spread a glossy vision of Islam to Americans.
A glance at the center's publications gives hints of future wisdom to come. There is Ralph Braibanti's celebration of Vatican II's soothing and apologetic words toward Islam in Nostra Aetate, Abdulaziz Sachedina's highlighting of the Quran's well-known pluralism and tolerance of other faiths, Mohamed Fathi Osman's argument regarding the Quran's "complete answers to concerns regarding global pluralism" (he is also author of Jihad: A Legitimate Struggle for Human Rights), and many others. "Abrahamic" pieties loom particularly large among the publications.
All of the center's efforts to correct misunderstandings address the West, while Islam's misunderstandings of the West and Christianity, almost too vast and profound to mention, are in fact unmentioned. And we scarcely need wonder how highlighting the ways Islam and Christianity are "alike" would play in Prince Alaweed bin Talal's home town.
But on these shores, according to Georgetown, we are to criticize American policy, not question Islam, save to delve into its mysteries and Abrahamic unity with Christianity (where Jews, much less Hindus, stand in all this is best not discussed), and generally get with the inter-faith program. It is left to others, such as center fellow Geneive Abdo, to start spelling things out, as in a recent article where she raises the threat of hostile Muslim separatism in the US if American policy toward Israel is not revised and offensive portions of the Patriot Act are not removed. And for more specific proposals we need only turn to Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies which has made the "one state" solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict a house specialty.
Usually universities, and donors, are not as transparent when it comes to the selling out, so we should be grateful to both Georgetown and its prince. Harvard at least had the good sense to announce that it would be hiring professors, supporting graduate students, and digitizing rare texts. This might be a result of having learned the hard way, having been embarrassed into returning money from Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates, whose Abu Dhabi-based think tank had hosted lectures on such pressing topics as whether Zionists were responsible for 9/11. Other beneficiaries of Saudi largesse, such as the King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at the University of Arkansas, have escaped serious scrutiny.
But the real question is whether building stronger bridges and restoring tarnished reputations is what a university should be doing in the first place. The very concept of a "Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding," whether funded by Prince Alaweed bin Talal or not, is to evade or dissemble when it comes to the hard questions, including the relationship between the West and the Muslim world, Islam's compatibility with modernization, and democracy, and its ability to co-exist with others in a world of pluralism and tolerance. In the real world, including the Muslim world, there is impassioned debate about these questions, and about whether the essential premises of "understanding" are meaningful or not. And for Americans, knowledge of Islam is more important than restoring Islam's image.
It would be cynical to say that what is needed is a Center for Jihad Studies or a Dhimmitude Studies Program to offset the apologetics. But the world of universities is cash and carry. The prince has put down his money. The rest is up to Georgetown.
Alexander H. Joffe is director of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum
Source: http://www.campus-watch.org


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URGENTLY NEEDED: A public debt counter

I don't recall on which avenue I saw this (not so far from Times Square), but one of the most enduring images I have of New York was this public debt counter - in public. 
An adboard that constantly keeps count of the American's level of indebtness. 
I suggest that one such adboard be installed in Nairobi's CBD and in all the country's other major urban centers. 
It certainly wouldn't cost much (if we could appeal for famine relief from the donor community while pumping millions into referendum campaigns and if we can still waste so much cash on luxuries like a bloated Cabinet). 
Such an adboard would help the country to constantly reflect on levels of its domestic and foreign debt in the manner that Americans always do (giving President Bush sleepless nights over his budgetary deficits / Democrats a nostalgia for the Clinton surplus and 10 million jobs p.a years). 
That, I think, is one way we might be able to rein in the excesses of the executive and a sold-out legislature.
Kama madeni yetu siyo siri (na kama ni kweli sisi ndiyo tunayalipia), mbona basi wizara inayohusika haijawajibika kuweka wazi hesabu hizi kila kukicha? 
Na benki kuu ya Kenya ina jukumu gani hapa? 


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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I could not keep this one to myself .....

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another. He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidante and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times. The King's 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her! One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, "I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone." Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart. The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good! When you die, I'm going to remarry!"His heart sank and turned cold. He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. When I die,! will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only walk with you to your grave." Her answer struck him like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated. Then a voice called out: "I'll go with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go." The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was very skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, "I should have taken much better care ofyou when I had the chance!" In truth, we all have the 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die. Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others. Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. And our 1st wife is our Soul. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. Thought for the day: Remember, when the world pushes you to your knees, you're in the perfect position to pray. HOPE U GOT TO THE END AND HAVE MADE A DECISION TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOUR FIRST WIFE.

Curb this Anti-Semitism!

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at it again: In addition to having asked that Israel be wiped off the world map and that Europe and the US create a Jewish nation-state in the West, he is now denying a historical reality: The Holocaust.
Sir, a few words of wisdom...from Dr. John Piper (a Christian scholar - I don't mind the bias):
"Don't minimize the importance of the Jewish people in history. Jesus is the fulfillment of 2,000 years of Jewish history. To this very day the sheer existence of the Jewish people is a wonder. Anne Rice, the vampire novelist who recently turned from 30 years of atheism, said in her new book Christ the Lord, "I stumbled upon a mystery without a solution, a mystery so immense that I gave up trying to find an explanation because the whole mystery defied belief. The mystery was the survival of the Jews. . . . It was this mystery that drew me back to God."1
I recommend you read Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), pp. 308-309.
That's before Israel considers doing an Osirak on you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Just for laughs!

This is the continuing story from State House, where Mwai hosted Moi last week. Three years ago, Moi was literally hounded out of the seat of power, bundled into a military plane and flown to Kabarak, for the first time in 24 years. Some of his ardent disciples were left in tears. So it was with a sense of nostalgia that the retired President returned to State House last week. Excerpts. Mwai: Karibu, karibu, Mr...uhhmmm mheshimiwa, uhhm Mtukufu. Moi: Just call me Moi, Emilio. It's been long since you addressed me officially. Mwai: Wewe na wewe. Basi, karibu Bwana Moi. Moi: (Casting an eye round the room) It feels good to be back here. You know this place harbours many good memories? Mwai: (Smiling) I envy you. I truly do. I haven't had a moment of rest since I set foot here. Moi: I know of your tribulations. Nimekuwa nikisoma magazeti. (I have been reading the newspapers). Mwai: (Hesitant) Uhhhm, the papers said you were part of the problem. Moi: (Fuming) Hizo ni porojo za watu wa magazeti (That's journalists' nonsense). How can I undermine the government of a man who deputised me for 12 years? Mwai: Precisely. And not when I did nothing to undermine your authority. Moi: (Smiling) Well, there was that small matter of the little money that you pay for my upkeep. Mwai: Your pension? Moi: Yes. The little money that your minister threatened to withdraw. Mwai: Don't believe that porojo in the newspapers. I personally wouldn't have allowed it. Moi: Hahahahahaha! Thanks for the reassurance. But that's not why you called me. Mwai: Uhhhmm, not quite. Uhhmm, uhmmm. Now, why did I call you? Moi: Umesahau!? (Have you forgotten?). You know that's what those Orange people are saying. That you forget fast. Like that piece of paper you signed and failed to implement. Mwai: What paper? Moi: I think they called it MoU, na kadhalika na kadhalika (etc, etc). Mwai: Oooh, that one. Moi: Yes, but remember I had dealt with Raila before and I know him well. Mwai: So what do I do with him? Moi: Hii ni mambo rahisi. (This is pretty simple). Weka Raila Kamiti na wengine wataogopa. (Jail Raila and the rest will be afraid). Mwai: Ai! His many followers will run amok and burn my effigy. Moi: I think people overestimate him. If you remember well, I jailed Raila twice. And when he learnt his lesson, I accepted him in my Cabinet. You did it the other way. Put him in Cabinet. Now you should throw him into jail. Twice. Mwai: (Sighing) Wewe na wewe. And what about Kalonzo? Moi: Hiyo ni kazi rahisi zaidi. Fanya yeye balozi. (That's easier. Make him an ambassador.) A country like Iraq is good. It will keep him busy. Mwai: And Ruto? Moi: Huyo ni kijana wa nyumbani. Patia yeye parastatal ya majani chai. (That's a home boy. Appoint him to head the tea parastatal. Mwai: And Uhuru? Moi: Parastatal ya maziwa. (Milk parastatal). He's experienced in the sector, having managed his family business. Mwai: What about the other rebels in the Cabinet? Moi: What Cabinet? I thought you dissolved it. The other rebels don't matter. And your way of saying it is by ignoring them. Mwai: (Sighing) Sounds all so simple. Moi: It's all so simple. You should have learnt from the master. Mwai: It's never too late to do that. Never too late. (They rise and shake hands, then step out for a photo-shoot. Such rare moments must be recorded for posterity). Source: www.communication.go.ke


My President has lost it; again!

My President lacks a working vision for a "working" nation. There being no vision, this nation - and not just his presidency - is on the brink of perishing. I had thought he would've felt our pulse following the naming of his new Cabinet last week but apparently he hasn't. Our fellow citizens are perishing for lack of knowledge on the gravity of this matter. This thing ain't just about numbers for the next session of Parliament; it has everything to do with our destiny beyond such shenenigans.

A point for MoU revisionists

I c quite a number of fellows here pouring cold water on the MoU story and trivializing its relevance to the historical and political context for the issues at hand. No trouble with that, except that none of you is going to give a honest response to the modern-day challenges of our nationhood without honestly wrestling with the moral and political issues in the MoU. It can't be wished away. It's as simple and difficult as that.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our whipping boy is back...

Raila is back in town...has again dared the President to hang up his boots...and suddenly - I hope I'll be proved wrong - bare-knuckled spin-doctors and McCarthyist politicians are "whispering" that national cohesion and development is suffering coz he's around, the new cabinet notwithstanding; propaganda and deceit is in vogue to incite the populace against the government by law established. My suggestion: This one time, if indeed this one man is our problem, afikishwe mahakamani. That's a legal drama I would pay anything to watch. Mgala muue na haki umpe. Anyone out there remember Shaaban Bin Roberts' KUSADIKIKA?

U.N.: Put Sudan's Top Leaders on Sanctions List

' The Sudanese government's systematic attacks on civilians in Darfur have been accompanied by a policy of impunity for all those responsible for the crimes. Senior Sudanese officials, including President Omar El Bashir must be held accountable for the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. '
Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch
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Related Material Sudan: A Shameful Place for an African Summit Press Release, November 17, 2005 Photo Gallery Graphic, December 12, 2005 Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur Report, December 12, 2005
The 85-page report, "Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur," documents the role of more than a dozen named civilian and military officials in the use and coordination of "Janjaweed" militias and the Sudanese armed forces to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur since mid-2003. (See below for a partial list of individuals who should be investigated by the International Criminal Court.) "The Sudanese government's systematic attacks on civilians in Darfur have been accompanied by a policy of impunity for all those responsible for the crimes," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Senior Sudanese officials, including President Omar El Bashir—must be held accountable for the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur." The Human Rights Watch report describes the process, replicated across Darfur, in which militia leaders collaborated with regional administrators and military commanders, usually meeting to co-ordinate strategy prior to attacks on rural villages and towns. By early 2004 it was clear, even to some soldiers, that civilians were the targets. One former soldier told Human Rights Watch that when he protested to his commander, he was told, "You have to attack the civilians." Human Rights Watch said that the looting and destruction of villages was not just condoned by government officials, it was methodically organized, with troops and militia members permitted to take land, livestock and other civilian property. Senior Sudanese officials played a direct role coordinating the offensives- and particularly the aerial bombing campaign - from Khartoum. The report also examines the Sudanese government's dismal record on accountability. Despite several Sudanese government initiatives, including a national inquiry into the crimes, numerous committees established to investigate rape and other crimes, and a national tribunal to try the perpetrators of crimes in Darfur, not a single mid- or high-level civilian official, military commander or militia leader has been suspended from duty, investigated or prosecuted. "The Sudanese government feigns compliance with international demands by setting up committees that produce absolutely no results," said Takirambudde. "The ICC should investigate key actors at every level, including regional officials." The report is based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts, more than ten investigations by Human Rights Watch in Chad and Darfur, and Sudanese government documents, as well as secondary sources. It reveals the strategy and network behind the Sudanese government's massive counter-insurgency campaign against rebel groups in Darfur in early 2003, when government forces and government-backed militias known as the "Janjaweed" killed, raped and tortured tens of thousands of people, mainly those sharing the ethnicity of the rebel movements, forcibly displaced more than two million people, and looted or destroyed all their property. The U.N. Security Council will receive three reports on Darfur in December: the final report and recommendations of the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee; the monthly report of the U.N. Secretary General; and the ICC Prosecutor's briefing. In March the Council referred Darfur to the ICC and the Prosecutor opened an investigation on June 6. Although the U.N. Security Council established a mechanism in March 2005 to enforce a partial arms embargo and to impose sanctions on individuals committing abuses, not a single person has yet been sanctioned by the U.N. "Nine months ago the Security Council set up a Sanctions Committee to penalize individuals responsible for abuses in Darfur but it has yet to act against anyone," said Takirambudde. "If the Security Council wants to see real progress in Darfur it must act now." Human Rights Watch also called on the Security Council to provide more support to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which has deployed approximately 7,000 personnel in Darfur, and for AMIS to actively protect civilians in Darfur. The African Union is not only providing troops in Darfur; it is negotiating a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel groups. Despite the Sudanese government's involvement in ongoing crimes in Darfur, the A.U. is allowing Sudan to host January's A.U. summit in the capital, Khartoum. A new A.U. president is also due to be elected, and there are indications that President Bashir might obtain the post. "Having the A.U. summit in Khartoum is bad enough, but giving President Bashir - who should be investigated for war crimes - the A.U. chair would be a travesty," said Takirambudde. Partial list of individuals who should be investigated by the ICC: This list is not a comprehensive list of all individuals potentially liable for crimes in Darfur. It is presented as a summary of those individuals named in this report and recommended for investigation by the ICC, but additional individuals not named in this report should also be investigated and prosecuted for crimes in Darfur. National Officials: • President Omar El Bashir • Second Vice-President Ali Osman Taha: Former First Vice-President until late 2005. • Maj. Gen. Abduraheem M. Hussein: Former minister of the interior and representative of the president for Darfur, 2003-2004; now minister of defense. • Maj. Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih: Former minister of defense; now minister for presidential affairs. • Abbas Arabi: Chief of Staff of the Sudanese armed forces. • Gen. Salah Abdallah Ghosh: Director of Security and Military Intelligence. • Ahmed Haroun: Former state minister of the interior, responsible for Darfur portfolio within the Ministry of the Interior; now state minister for humanitarian affairs. Current or former regional officials: The individuals listed below are included because, as described in the text of the report, they are or were the senior government officials in their districts or states when crimes amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed by government forces. • Al Tayeb Abdullah Torshain: Former commissioner of Mukjar, 2003-2005. • Al Haj Attar Al Mannan Idris: Governor of South Darfur, mid-2004 to present. • Ja'afar Abdel el Hakh: Commissioner of Garsila until April 2004; now governor of West Darfur. • Maj. Gen. Adam Hamid Musa: Governor of South Darfur, 2003 to mid-2004. • Maj. Gen. Abdallah Safi el Nour: Retired air force pilot and former governor of North Darfur, 2000-2001; and national minister in Khartoum 2003-2004. Allegedly involved in directing air operations and in the supply of arms to the militias. Military commanders: • Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Al Hajir Mohammed: Commander of the 16th Infantry Division forces used in the attacks on the villages of Marla, Ishma, and Labado in December 2004. • Maj. Gen. Al Hadi Adam Hamid: Chief of "border guards"; key liaison to Janjaweed militias. • Lt. Col. Abdul Wahid Said Ali Said: Commander of the 2nd Border Intelligence Brigade based in Misteriya, which supports military operations in and around Kebkabiya. • Maj. Gaddal Fadlallah: Commander in Kutum whose forces are responsible for numerous attacks on civilians, destruction of villages, and looting of civilian property. Militia leaders: • "Abu Ashreen": This is the nickname or nom de guerre of Abdullah Saleh Sabeel, a forty-eight-year-old Beni Hussein from Sareef, in the Kebkabiya area. He also occasionally uses the name Abdullah Dagash. He is related to Nazir El Ghadi Adam Hamid, the brother of Maj. Gen. Al Hadi Adam Hamid. He has the rank of either corporal (arif) or sergeant (raqib), and leads a militia based in Kebkabiya. • Sheikh Musa Hilal: Numerous eyewitnesses place Hilal at the scene of different attacks in North Darfur in which serious crimes, including rape, murder and torture, were committed. Numerous eyewitnesses, including former members of the Sudanese armed forces, also identify Hilal as a key militia recruiter and coordinator. • "Ali Kosheib": This is the nickname or nom de guerre of Ali Mohammed Ali. He was one of the key leaders of the attacks on villages around Mukjar, Bindisi, and Garsila in 2003-2004. Several eyewitnesses recognized him as one of the commanders of the operations in March 2004, in which several hundred men were executed around Deleig, Garsila, and Mukjar. • Mustapha Abu Nuba: Tribal leader of a Riziegat sub-clan in South Darfur. Allegedly responsible for numerous attacks on villages in South Darfur, including the attack on and looting of Kaila. • Nazir Al Tijani Abdel Kadir: Tribal leader of the Misseriya militia based in Niteiga, South Darfur. Allegedly responsible for the attack on the village of Khor Abeche on April 7, 2005, and other attacks in the area. • Mohammed Hamdan: Riziegat militia leader allegedly involved in Adwah attack and looting in November 2004.


ERITREA: Religious Persecution

1. Introduction: basic human rights denied
Amnesty International has received disturbing reports of increasing violations in Eritrea of the right to freedom of religion, belief and conscience. While Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subjected to severe persecution for the past decade on account of their religious beliefs, this report focuses on widespread detentions and other human rights violations of members of evangelical Christian churches in the past three years, intensifying in 2005. Since 2002, their churches have been shut down by the government and many members have been tortured in an attempt to force them to stop worshipping and to thereby abandon their faith. Members of new groups within the officially-permitted Orthodox Church and Islam have also been detained on account of their beliefs.

At least 26 pastors and priests, and over 1,750 church members, including children and 175 women, and some dozens of Muslims, are detained because of their religious beliefs. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience.

Amnesty International is appealing to President Issayas Afewerki and the Eritrean government to end the government’s policy of repression of religious belief and freedom of conscience, opinion and expression in general. Amnesty International calls on the international community to strengthen efforts to obtain and secure protection of religious freedom and basic human rights in Eritrea.

Human rights in Eritrea are systematically violated by President Issayas Afewerki’s government, which has been in power since the country’s independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year liberation war.(1) The detentions of individuals solely because of their religious beliefs is part of the general denial of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Eritrea, as well as other grave violations of basic human rights. These violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion are contrary to international law, as well as the Constitution of Eritrea (1997).

Torture has routinely been used as a punishment for critics of the government and members of minority faiths, as well as for offences committed by military conscripts. Arbitrary incommunicado detention “"without charge or trial”" is widespread and long-lasting - several prisoners of conscience have been held thus for over a decade - with many detainees are held in secret and their whereabouts not known.

Violations of the right to freedom of religion in Eritrea are indirectly linked to a far-reaching pattern of violations of the right to expression of non-violent political opinions and the right to association. Religious prisoners of conscience who have no connection with political opposition groups are subjected to the same torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, and the same arbitrary and incommunicado detention, as prisoners of conscience detained on account of their political opinions.

Any expression or suspicion of criticism of the government - impossible to express openly and publicly - is met with threats, arbitrary arrest and sometimes “"disappearances”", and indefinite, incommunicado detention, without any judicial oversight, and with a high risk of torture. The only permitted political party is President Issayas Afewerki’s People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), formerly the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which won the independence war and formed the new government.

The rule of law in Eritrea is severely undermined by the lack of an effective or independent judiciary. Lawyers do not dare to challenge the government in the courts. A Special Court sentences people for corruption without the right to defence or appeal. A secret security committee sentences some political and religious prisoners to prison terms without defence representation or appeal. Organizations who might potentially monitor human rights and press for remedies for human rights violations do not and cannot function inside Eritrea on account of the comprehensive denial of the right to freedom of expression of opinion. Human rights violations by members of the security forces are committed with total impunity.(2)

Non-government organisations (NGOs) are heavily restricted. International human rights organisations such as Amnesty International are denied entry. International humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are restricted in their activities and travel, and the official US development agency, US-Agency for International Development, a major bilateral donor, was ordered to leave Eritrea in November 2005 without explanation. Under a new Proclamation in 2005(3), international NGOs, including faith-based agencies - of which only 14 are currently registered(4) - are limited to relief and rehabilitation activities and not permitted to work independently of the government with local communities.

Two thirds of the population are dependent on international emergency food aid since the 1998-2000 armed conflict with Ethiopia. This includes returnee refugees from Sudan and 70,000 internally displaced persons (IDP)(5)camp. Many donor governments have withdrawn development assistance on account of the government’s failures in democratization and human rights.

Fears of new armed conflict with Ethiopia
There are rising fears in the international community (as of late November 2005) that armed conflict may break out again between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The UN Security Council has called on Ethiopia to implement its acceptance in principle of the International Boundary Commission’s judgment regarding the border areas, particularly its allocation to Eritrea of Badme town, the flashpoint of war in 1998. Ethiopia refuses to allow border demarcation to proceed, instead calling for negotiation over certain issues. Eritrea demands UN implementation of the border judgment and UN action against Ethiopia to enforce it.

In October 2005, following earlier restrictions it had imposed on the 2,800 - personnel multi-national UN Military Mission for Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), which administers a “"Temporary Security Zone”" buffer-zone along the 1,000 km border with Ethiopia, Eritrea banned UN helicopter flights to the UN monitoring posts and imposed other restrictions which severely reduced the mission’s ability to fulfil its mandate. Both sides have re-armed since 2000 and have recently deployed troops near the border. On 23 November, UN Security Council resolution 1640 demanded that Eritrea should reserve the ban on helicopter flights and other restrictions imposed on the movement of the UNMEE force. It called on both parties to return to previous levels of military deployment within 30 days, to prevent aggravation of the situation. It demanded that Ethiopia allow border demarcation to start immediately within precondition.

Amnesty International, a non-political and impartial human rights organization working on human rights in all countries of the world, takes no position on the political issues of the border dispute. The organization is concerned that renewed armed conflict could lead to a repeat of grave violations of the Geneva Conventions (war crimes) such as were committed by both sides against prisoners of war and civilians, as well as violations of international human rights law in the 1998-2000 conflict. Furthermore, major humanitarian assistance by the international community might be needed to respond to emergency situations arising from the conflict in terms of destruction of livelihoods, internal displacement of people and out-flow of refugees to neighbouring and other countries.

Amnesty International believes that perceived threats to the security of the country and its borders should not be used by the Government of Eritrea as a pretext for committing human rights violations or as a justification for delaying action to protect human rights in the country.

2. Religions in Eritrea – background to arrests
Eritrea has a highly religious population, with some 98% of its 3.7 million people belonging to a long-established branch of a major world religion. Most Eritreans actively practice their faith, with only a small proportion being merely nominal members of their faith, and even fewer describing themselves as being of no faith at all. The Orthodox Church and Islam have been rooted in the region since the fourth and seventh centuries respectively. These two religions are practised by some 90% of the population, although there are no reliable statistics on which is the larger group. For historical reasons and due to its central position in the former Ethiopian Empire, the Orthodox Church is socially predominant.

Of the other Christian denominations, 5% of the population are Roman Catholics. About 2% are Protestants, of whom about half belong to a Lutheran church, and about half to smaller religious movements, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and at least 36 evangelical and pentecostal churches. There are a few members of the Baha'i, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist religions in the larger urban centres. Traditional religious practices continue among some members of Eritrea's nine ethnic groups (or “"nationalities”") in remoter areas. The central highlands and the majority Tigrinya ethnic group, are predominantly Orthodox, while the lowlands are predominantly Muslim, although most towns and rural areas contain places of worship and members of both of these religions.

All religions in Eritrea are nationally - organized faiths. Some are affiliated to international bodies. The four main “"officially recognized”" religions are:
The Eritrean Orthodox Church, which separated after independence from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, part of the worldwide Coptic Orthodox Church of the eastern rite, and a member of the World Council of Churches.
Islam of the Sunni rite, represented by the Muslim Council of Eritrea with mosques throughout the country and predominant in the less developed eastern and western lowlands.
The Eritrean Catholic Church, part of the worldwide Roman Catholic movement.
The Evangelical Church of Eritrea (also known as the Lutheran Church, and before independence linked to the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church), part of the Lutheran World Federation and a member of the World Council of Churches.
Other religious groups, which are not officially recognized and are not allowed to worship openly, comprise the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Baha’i religion, and an increasing diversity of evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic or “"born again”" Protestant churches, which are collectively called “"evangelicals”" (or sometimes “"pentes”", a pejorative term). These “"minority religious groups”"(6) had recognized places of worship in many towns until these were all closed down by the government in 2002.

Some of the Eritrean churches, as well as several international Christian and Muslim charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), run relief and humanitarian projects, although under government restrictions and subject to the May 2005 NGO Proclamation.

Inter-faith relations in Eritrea since independence have generally been good, with a history of tolerance between Christians and Muslims at both the national official level and in local communities. Christian and Muslim holidays are officially celebrated throughout Eritrea. There is, however, some social intolerance from members of the main churches toward the Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelical churches. Faith relations have also been affected by the political orientations of the Eritrean independence war, and the conflict between the Marxist - Leninist Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which formed the independence government, and the Muslim - oriented Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and other linked groups, to whom the EPLF offered no reconciliation at independence. The post-independence exile opposition coalition contains Islamist groups, and consequently the government has frequently suspected Muslims in Eritrea of links with Sudan-based armed opposition groups.

Under Ethiopian rule before independence, all religions were heavily restricted by the marxist-leninist Dergue military government. In Ethiopia in 1979 the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Tewoflos, and the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, head of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church, “"disappeared”" from detention and were extra-judicially executed by government agents. Members of Dergue detained in 1991 are currently still on trial in Addis Ababa for these and other crimes. In the 1980s there was also a fierce campaign of religious persecution against religious groups with perceived “"imperialist”" connections, such as US-connected evangelical and Baptist churches and the Beta Israel religion, also known as Ethiopian Jews or Falashas, as well as discrimination against Muslims.

The EPLF, while it was fighting the Ethiopian government for Eritrean independence, tolerated the main faiths but not the minority religions, and religious persecution was reportedly sometimes an issue.

After independence, the EPLF government recognized the main four religions in state functions. Jehovah’s Witnesses became a target of active repression in 1994, as a result of their opposition to military service when it was introduced, and their non-participation in the 1993 independence referendum.

In 1995 restrictions were placed on all faiths by Proclamation Religious Organizations no.73/1995, which prohibited them from receiving international funds or engaging in political activities. Religious organizations were required to register with the authorities and provide details of their membership and assets, including foreign contacts and foreign funding. The four main religions were quickly registered but registration of minority religious groups was postponed. Since then, there has been a rapid growth of evangelical churches in Eritrea. This has often been a source of tension between them and the three main Christian churches, which were losing members to them. They had different doctrines, forms of worship and weddings, and “"fellowship”" for prayer and study. They often proselytized (sought converts) or expressed their faith in new, “"charismatic”" ways in public places, which attracted some disapproval from members of the main religious groups - Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran and Islam.

3. Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses
In October 1994, President Issayas Afewerki issued a directive which effectively denied all members of the Jehovah’s Witness religion their basic civil, political, economic and social rights. His order expelled them from government employment and accommodation; denied them access to government services, including schools and hospitals; and refused them the official identity cards, essential for daily life and administrative procedures, such as obtaining business permits, buying land and property, registering births, marriages and deaths for legal purposes, applying for internal travel permits, exit visas, passports, etcetera.(7)

On 24 September 1994 when conscription started, several Jehovah’s Witnesses who were called up for national service refused for reasons of their faith to undergo military training, although they did not reject non-military service.(8) Three were immediately arrested and are still detained in Sawa military base eleven years later – Paulos Eyassu, Negede Teklemariam and Isaac Mogos, now aged in their 30s.

In March 1995 the Minister of Internal Affairs confirmed and reiterated the ban: "The Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their right to citizenship because they refused to accept the Government of Eritrea and the laws." He accused them of not fighting in the liberation struggle, refusing to vote in the independence referendum and refusing to do national service. He said, "They will not have rights equivalent to any other citizens”". (9)

Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to refuse national military service and were routinely imprisoned. They also refused to renounce their faith or stop worshipping clandestinely in homes instead of their “"Kingdom Halls”", which were closed down by the authorities. After some years, the government appeared to be informally tolerating worship in members' homes, perhaps in an attempt to counter the unfavourable international publicity at this persecutory measure against a whole religious community. Nevertheless, the official position remained unchanged, and arrests continued. Many have been detained for refusing military service About 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses’ families have fled the country and sought asylum abroad; about 100 have been dismissed from government employment; and at least 36 families have been evicted from their homes.

There were more arrests after the 2002 ban on minority churches, when the Head of the President’s office, denying any religious persecution against them, said: "…. the problems were with the Jehovah’s Witnesses early on, because they said they didn't recognize the temporary government, they refused to vote yes or no or to take part in the political process here during the referendum. Their number is very small, they publicly said they don’t recognize the temporary government and the government’s response was, okay, if they do not recognize the temporary government, the government will also not recognize them…".(10)
At present, a total of 22 Jehovah’s Witnesses are in prison. Nine who are imprisoned in Sawa army camp – including Paulos Eyassu, Negede Teklemariam and Isaac Mogos, who have been held there incommunicado since 1994 - are conscientious objectors, although the government does not recognize this status. Ten Jehovah’s Witnesses are detained in Mai Serwa, Wia or Sawa army camps, most for attending a religious meeting or preaching. Three others are held in the civilian Sembel prison in Asmara, at least two of them after reportedly being secretly sentenced to prison terms through an extra-judicial procedure. Tekle Tesfay and Fesseha Gebrezadik, who are in Sembel prison, were reportedly given five and four year prison terms respectively in mid - 2005 for “"teaching religion”" – which is not an offence in the Penal Code. These sentences were imposed in absentia by a secret security committee, and the detainees were denied the right to present a legal defence or be legally represented, or the right to appeal to a court. Such a procedure violates international fair trial standards as well as Eritrea’s own Constitution and laws.

4. Crackdown on evangelical churches
In May 2002, two years after the armed conflict with Ethiopia ended, the government suddenly ordered all unregistered religions to close their places of worship and stop practising their faith until they were registered. They had to apply for registration with the Department for Religious Affairs in the Office of the President in accordance with the 1995 Proclamation on Religious Organizations, whose full implementation had been delayed. Full details were demanded of each organization’s doctrines, its history in the country, its leaders and members, assets and funds, services provided and publications. Four minority religious groups submitted the required details but have received no response. Others were reluctant to provide information which could expose their members to reprisals. The evangelical churches and Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to gather in private for "home-worshipping" and for some months the authorities appeared to tolerate this.

In early 2003 arrests of members of minority religious groups began, without any explanation, and have continued up to now, intensifying in 2005. Without having formally rejected any applications for registration, the government does not permit the practise of faith and worship by the minority religious groups. There is no law in the penal code criminalizing religious practice but justifications advanced by the authorities appear to derive from a general ban on unauthorized gatherings of more than five persons. Detention of church members has been arbitrary and unlawful, with no arrest warrants, charges or due judicial process or remedy, as are required by the Constitution and laws.

Amnesty International considers that all the men, women and children detained on account of their religious beliefs are prisoners of conscience, who have not used or advocated violence.

In the first few months of 2003, the authorities began a crackdown on the minority churches. Police and soldiers broke into religious services in private homes, and confiscated religious materials and musical instruments and cassettes. They arrested men, women and children, sometimes beating church members on the spot, detaining them without court warrants or charges. They held them first in police stations, later transferring them to security prisons or military detention centres, where detainees were tortured and detained incommunicado for indefinite periods. They were arrested without court warrants or charges. As in other actions by the authorities related to national service, any who were found to be evading national service were drafted into the army and usually subjected to military punishment too. Many who had completed national military service were re - conscripted.(11)

The detainees were usually pressured under torture or ill-treatment, with the threat of indefinite detention, to sign a document agreeing to certain conditions of release, such as not to attend religious meetings. Some were reportedly forced to recant their faith and agree to rejoin the Orthodox Church. Parents of children who were arrested were often made to deposit sureties (bonds) which would be forfeited if the conditions were broken. Most detainees refused to agree to the conditions of release, regarding them as a demand to deny and abandon their faith, since worship in fellowship is fundamental to their faith. When they refused to provide the promise or bond, the detainees were kept in prison for an indefinite period and often subjected to further ill-treatment.

The arrests increased in late 2003, and have continued up to the present time. Police singled out religious weddings in homes as occasions to round up believers.

None of these religious groups have attempted to function openly. Their premises remain closed and several buildings have been confiscated by the authorities. They practise their faith clandestinely (even in the army) and appear to be attracting more adherents, despite the risks.

The three officially recognized Christian churches were not subject to repression of this nature by the authorities and made no public criticisms of these measures against the minority religious groups. However, several Lutherans who shared worship with evangelical church members have been detained on occasion, and three Orthodox Church priests linked to the Medhane Alem movement are currently detained. The ordained leader of the Episcopal Church in Asmara, whose congregation includes foreign diplomats as well as a growing number of young Eritreans, was forced to depart home to India in October 2005 at 11 days’ notice, as the government refused to renew his work permit, and reportedly will no longer allow foreigners to conduct church services.

In August 2005 the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, was reported to have been stripped of his administrative functions by the government restricted in his movements and placed under virtual house arrest. He is reported to have favoured reform within the church, called for the release of the detained Orthodox priests, and opposed government interference in church affairs. The government denies that it has dismissed him. His special adviser, Yitbarek Berhe, is reported to have been detained at about the same time.

Amnesty International has learnt of certain religious prisoners being given secret prison sentences by security committees without any form of trial, defence representation or appeal, and being transferred to normal prisons to serve these prison terms.

The reason for the ongoing crackdown on minority religious groups was never given by the government but it appeared to be partly linked to government action against young people trying to avoid military conscription, although none of evangelical churches opposed military service. It also reflected the government’s general repression and intolerance of freedom of opinion and association. The government appeared to be punishing any kind of expression of dissent, religious or political. It brushed aside criticisms of breaching fundamental human rights standards.

5. Cases of arrests of religious prisoners of conscience, 2003-2005
The following are 44 incidents of religious persecution which have been documented over the past three years and are mainly the consequence of the government’s ban in 2002 on the minority religious groups. Those arrested were mostly from the evangelical churches but included Jehovah’s Witnesses, several Lutherans and some individuals of Catholic background, three priests and several members of the Orthodox Church, and dozens of Muslims.

The sources of information for these arrests, numbering over 1,750 men, women and children altogether during this period, include international religious organizations monitoring the arrests and Eritrean diaspora faith groups, as well as Amnesty International’s own sources.(12) Undoubtedly there have been many more cases not reported. Amnesty International has cross-checked and carefully scrutinized as far as possible for accuracy the details of the arrests described in this report. Most of those arrested, especially in 2005, are believed to be still detained, although details of detentions and releases are not disclosed by the government and are difficult to obtain, since prisoners are kept incommunicado and there is no access for independent monitoring organizations to police stations, and security or military prisons. Amnesty International has not been allowed entry to the country since 1999.

2003
▪ On 16 April, 164 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asmara were arrested at a private religious celebration. Some children were released the following day. The rest of the children and some non-Witnesses who were in attendance at the event were released after three days, 65 adults after eight days, and the remainder after about a month.
▪ In August, 57 school students, including several girls, were arrested during a compulsory work camp placement at Sawa army camp(13) on account of possessing bibles in the Tigrinya language, although this is not prohibited. Six were held in underground cells in Sawa and the others in metal shipping containers in sweltering conditions, given very little food and no medical care. They were allegedly tortured or ill-treated to abandon their faith and re-join the Orthodox Church. 51 were released after a few weeks but six suspected to be the leaders were detained longer.
▪ On 7 September, 12 Christians, including members of the Dubre Bethel Church in Asmara, were arrested at a prayer meeting in a private house and taken to the 5th police station. They were released uncharged after some days.
▪ On 23 November, eight members of the Kale Hiwot Church were arrested in Mendefera, including Pastor Iyob. They were denied food for some days, reportedly to pressure them to abandon their faith.
▪ On 14 December, a pastor and 10 members of the Faith of Christ Church in Adi-Kehey, 100 km south of Asmara, were arrested in a Lutheran church where they were worshipping. A Lutheran evangelist (preacher) was also detained but released two days later.

2004
▪ On 24 January, 38 Jehovah’s Witnesses and non-Witnesses, including several children, one aged 6 years, and two very elderly men, were detained while worshipping in a home in Asmara. Some of the children were kept in detention for three days. Gebrehiwet Tedla, aged 94, Gebreselassie Adhanom aged 78, and Sertsu Yilma, 55, were released after eight months. Six others were detained in Mai Serwa army camp in a shipping container, including two women, Rebka Gebretensaye and Akberet Gebremichael, and four men Asmerom Beraki, Tsegabirhan Berhe, Tekle Gebrehiwet and Yemane Tsegay.
▪ On 12 February, 56 members of the Hallelujah Church, including Pastor Mengist Teweldemedhin and several children, were arrested in Asmara. Some were taken to Adi Abeto prison, others to Mai Serwa or Sawa army camps, where they were reportedly tortured. Parents were forced to sign documents to obtain the release of their children. Pastor Mengist Teweldemedhin later escaped.
▪ On 23 February, ten members of the Mullu Wongel Church were detained in Asmara while worshipping in a home. The woman owning the home was released after paying a “"fine”" of US$37 equivalent for “"holding an illegal meeting”", although without being taken to court.
▪ In February, police arrested Ambakom Tsegezab, a Jehovah’s Witness, and took him to Sawa army camp, where he was reported to be held in chains.
▪ On 17-18 March, whole families of home - worshippers of the Rema Church were arrested in Asmara when they were caught praying and reading the bible. They were taken to Adi Abeto army prison and the 5th police station in Asmara. Some were released when they paid “"fines”" to police, although without any court process.
▪ On 18 March, 20 members of the Kale Hiwot Church in Assab were detained, reportedly as a consequence of the President of Eritrea’s speech on 5 March attacking the minority churches during the inauguration of the new Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.
▪ On 19 March, Yonas Haile, a gospel singer who had just released a video cassette entitled “"The Gospel, solution to man's problems”", was arrested in Asmara and taken to Adi Abeto army camp and then Sawa army camp.
▪ In April, several senior members of the Kale Hiwot Church were detained in Asmara.
▪ On 22 April, an Orthodox Church deacon and editor of a church newsletter, Teklemariam Merkazion, was arrested when he returned from a visit to Germany, and detained in Karchele security prison. He was released on 10 November 2004 left the country.
▪ On 13 May, Helen Berhane, aged 30, a well - known gospel singer of the Rema Church who had just released a cassette of gospel music, was arrested in Asmara. She is held in a metal shipping container in Mai Serwa army camp. She refuses to abandon her faith and gospel singing, despite promises of release if she does so.
▪ On 23 May, Pastor Haile Naizgi, chair of the Mullu Wongel Church, and Dr Kiflu Gebremeskel, chair of the Eritrean Evangelical Alliance and former chair of the Mullu Wongel Church, a US-educated former maths lecturer at Asmara University, were arrested in Asmara. They are detained in Karchele security prison. They are both reported to have been sentenced extra-judicially to five years’ imprisonment by a secret security committee.
▪ On 27 May, Pastor Tesfatsion Hagos of the Rema Church in Asmara was arrested on a visit to Massawa port and is detained in Karchele security prison. He is reported to have been sentenced extra-judicially to a five-year prison term.
▪ In June, police arrested six Jehovah’s Witnesses: Fesseha Gebrezadik and Yohannes Guish were arrested for preaching in public in Asmara; Tekle Kebede and another relative of a person who had escaped from Sawa army camp were arrested and taken to Mai Serwa army camp; and a full-time Minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hagos Woldemichael, was arrested while visiting them at the time of their arrest - he too was taken to Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 5 July, two women from the Mullu Wongel Church were arrested in Asmara - Meaza Araya, aged 34, her second arrest, and Elsa Ghirmay, aged 30. They were detained in Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ Also on 5 July, Dawit Mesgenna and Tesfa Araya, members of the Rema Church, were arrested and taken to “"Track B”" army prison in Asmara.
▪ On 25 July, police arrested scores of people at a church wedding ceremony in Senafe town, 136 km southeast of Asmara, including the bride’s 80-year-old father, Woldegabriel Gebremichael. 28 members of the Kale Hiwot and Mullu Wongel churches were detained in Senafe police station for some days, until they signed a document agreeing not to attend any evangelical wedding in future. The two wedding organisers - Teame Kibrom, aged in his 80s, and an evangelist named Michael - were detained longer.
▪ In November, three Orthodox Church priests, Reverend Dr Futsum Gebrenegus, Eritrea’s only psychiatrist, Reverend Dr Tekleab Mengisteab, a medical doctor and diabetic, and Reverend Gebremedhin Gebreghiorghis, a prominent theologian, who are leading members of the Medhane Alem bible study group, were arrested in Asmara and detained in Karchele security prison. They are reportedly currently held in Sembel civilian prison in Asmara, with prison sentences of five years each imposed by a secret administrative procedure.
▪ On 31 December, 60 members of the Rema Church, including 35 women and several children, were arrested in Asmara at a New Year’s Eve celebration at the home of Pastor Habteab Ogbamichael and his wife Letensae, who were also arrested, and taken to the 5th police station. They were transferred to Mai Serwa army camp. Most of the women and the children were released in the next two weeks but 13 of the group are reportedly still detained there.

2005
▪ On 9 January, 25 Christians of Roman Catholic background were arrested in Asmara at a wedding rehearsal. Most were released after a short period in the 1st police station but three are believed to be detained in Wia army camp.
▪ Also on 9 January, police in Barentu in western Eritrea arrested 115 evangelical church members attending a wedding, including Pastor Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot of the Kale Hiwot Church, Pastor Hagos Toomey of the Mullu Wongel Church, and several elderly people and children. 48 youths were conscripted into the army, while 67 others were taken to Sawa army camp. Pastor Ogbamichael Haimanot was finally released in October after reportedly becoming mentally ill as a result of ill-treatment, including being kept in solitary confinement, and being made to perform hard labour.
▪ Also on 9 January, five members of the Kale Hiwot Church were arrested in Asmara at a private prayer gathering and taken to Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 21 January, police arrested three leaders of the Mullu Wongel Church in Asmara - Pastors Kidane Gebremeskel, Abraham Belay and Fanuel Mehreteab - who are reportedly detained in Karchele security prison.
▪ On 30 January, police detained 45 members of the Mullu Wongel Church in Asmara in home prayer meetings. 16 were conscripted into the army, while the remainder were released some weeks later.
▪ On 3 February, Semere Zaid, a lecturer in agriculture at Asmara University, formerly a member of a new Orthodox Church group, and now a member of the Church of the Living God, was arrested in Asmara. He was released on 28 February and ordered to stop attending religious gatherings and to report regularly to the police.
▪ On 4 February, Pastor Issa Mekonnen and 13 members of the Kale Hiwot Church were arrested at a home in Adi-Tekelzan town, 30 km north of Asmara. They are reportedly held at Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 12 February, police arrested 15 women members of a Medhane Alem (Orthodox Church) bible study group in Keren. They were released a month later.
▪ On 16 February, police detained 17 members of the Rema Church at a home in Adikwala. Ten were released after two weeks but the other 17 are reportedly detained at Gelalo army camp.
▪ On 19 February, over 20 children aged between two and 18 years were arrested at a Medhane Alem (Orthodox Church) bible study class in Asmara. The youngest were released the same day, and the others were gradually released over the next few weeks. The five teachers, who work as instructors at Asmara University, are reportedly detained at Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ In February, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bemnet Fessahaye and Henok Gebru, were detained in Asmara; three other Jehovah’s Witnesses in detention were reported to have been moved to Wia army camp in February and March.
▪ On 13 March, 16 members of the Kale Hiwot church were arrested near Asmara for watching a church video at one of their homes. Two elderly women among them were released on payment of a police “"fine”" of US$12 equivalent, but without being taken to court.
▪ On 16 March, Pastor Kidane Weldu, aged 55, of the Mullu Wongel Church, and Demoze Afewerki, aged 67, chair of the Gideons (Bible) International branch in Eritrea and head of the inspection department of the Housing and Commercial Bank of Eritrea, were arrested in Asmara. Pastor Kidane Weldu is detained in Karchele security prison. The whereabouts of Demoze Afewerki are not known.
▪ March, Amanuel Abraham, a Jehovah’s Witness, was detained in Asmara.
▪ On 4 May, police arrested two Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asmara for preaching, Worede Kiros and Eyob Tekle, who are currently detained in Wia army camp.
▪ On 27 May, Tekle Tesfay, aged 71, a citizen of The Netherlands who returned to Eritrea in 1997, was arrested in Asmara for teaching religion to another Jehovah’s Witness, Fisseha Gebrezadik. Both are now held in Sembel civilian prison and are reported to have been extra-judicially sentenced to secret prison terms of five and fours years respectively; a third Jehovah’s Witness, arrested earlier, Yohannes Guish, is also held in Sembel prison.
▪ On 28 May, police raided a wedding party of the Meseret Kristos Church in Asmara and detained the bride and bridegroom and some 200 guests, including gospel singer Essey Stefanos, Pastor Gideon of the Meseret Kristos Church and an evangelist named Amanuel from the Kale Hiwot Church. The bridal couple and over half the guests were released the following month, leaving some 70 people detained in Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 6 July, Semere Zaid of the University of Asmara was re-arrested when he reported to a police station as a condition of his earlier release in February 2005. He was first detained in the Karchele security prison but is now reportedly held in Sembel civilian prison serving a secretly-imposed prison term of two years for unspecified offences.
▪ On 8 July, 18 students at Halhale College, part of the University of Asmara, were arrested immediately after sitting their final examinations, on account of attending various evangelical churches. Their current whereabouts in custody are not known.
▪ In late July, Yitbarek Berhe, a deacon of the Orthodox Church, deputy administrator of the church synod (council) and adviser to the Patriarch (see section 4 above), was reportedly arrested after being forced to resign from his post. His whereabouts in detention are not known.
▪ On 4 September, Mengisteab Tesfamariam and his bride Berekti Keshi Almaz, were arrested together with their wedding entourage (best man and bridesmaids) and wedding guests at a Hallelujah Church wedding celebration. Hallelujah Church leaders Aklilu Habteab and Kahsay Imbaye, Zerit Gebrenegusse, a Philadelphia Church evangelist, and six women were among 20 people arrested.
▪ On 30 September, dozens of members of evangelical churches were arrested at their homes, workplaces or in the streets in Asmara. They included Pastor Simon and Sirak Gebremichael of the Kale Hiwot Church and Akberet Negusse (f) of the Rema Church.
▪ On 3 October, police arrested all 20 staff of the Kale Hiwot Church’s development programme, which runs an orphanage, primary schools, nursery schools and emergency feeding projects. Five visitors were also arrested. Police searched the office and seized computers and documents. Some of those detained were released two and three weeks later, and the remainder were conditionally released on 8 November.
At present, at least 26 evangelical pastors and four Orthodox Church priests and deacons are reportedly detained, as well as over 1,750 church members, including several children and some 175 women, although figures are difficult to confirm due to the rapidly changing pattern of arrests and releases.

6. Detention of Muslims
Particularly in the first few years after independence in 1991, large numbers of Muslims in Eritrea were arbitrarily detained, and in some cases “"disappeared”" or were extra-judicially executed, on suspicion of being linked to armed Islamist or the mainly Muslim ELF opposition groups.

The EPLF government offered no reconciliation with rival ELF groups which remained in opposition to it but allowed individuals to return if they abandoned opposition. The government continues to suspect Muslims from the western areas bordering Sudan of having links with opposition groups still based in Sudan, which have received support from Sudan’s National Islamic Front government and the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood. The ELF groups are part of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance(14) (EDA, formerly the Eritrean National Alliance until early 2005), which includes Islamist groups and advocates armed opposition to the Eritrean government, although it is not known to have carried out military activities during 2005. The EDA draws support from Eritrean refugees in Sudan, some of whom have been there for 30 years and consider it would not be safe for them to return to Eritrea.

As a consequence of this intermittent armed conflict, the Eritrean security forces have conducted military operations in western Eritrea, particularly in the early and mid 1990s, and seem to have often suspected Muslims of supporting armed Islamist groups or other armed opposition groups. Reliable information has been difficult to obtain on human rights abuses allegedly committed by the Eritrean security forces against peaceful Muslim critics of the government.

On 5 December 1994 hundreds of young Muslim teachers were arrested in Keren and elsewhere when Eritrea broke off diplomatic relations with Sudan. Many had trained as Quranic, Arabic-language or ordinary subject teachers in Sudanese educational institutions. They were not brought to court, nor are they known to have been released. There have been unconfirmed reports that some of these detainees were extra-judicially executed in May 1997.

In September 2004, dozens of Muslim students belonging to new Islamic religious groups (including some known as “"Wahabis”") were arrested in Asmara and other towns. Many are reportedly still detained incommunicado and without charge.

7. National military service and religion
Under the national service regulations of 23 October 1995, national service of six months’ military training and 12 months’ development service (such as labour on construction projects) is compulsory for all Eritrean citizens aged between 18 and 40 years, male and female. In late 2004 the upper age limit for female conscription was reportedly reduced to 27 years. There are also military reserve duties between the ages of 40 and 50 for former EPLF veterans and former conscripts. National service has been made more military in nature and extended indefinitely as a result of the failure of the border demarcation process and corresponding fears of renewed armed conflict with Ethiopia.

There is no exemption for conscientious objectors, whether on account of a principle of religious faith or other conscientious belief or opinion. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse military service for reasons of their faith, but this is not recognised by the Eritrean government as a reason for exemption. Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been conscripted, such as the three men detained in 1994 in the first intake of conscripts, are detained indefinitely without any judicial process.

Religious practice by members of the four main faiths is permitted in the army, although with minimal provision for worship or for pastoral care in local churches and mosques. Members of the non-registered and banned minority religious groups are not allowed to practise their faith, meet together or worship, possess religious publications or receive pastoral care from a minister of their faith. Suspected evangelicals in the army are monitored closely, and arrested if caught worshipping or in possession of evangelical religious materials.

Exemptions from national service include provisions for the disabled, for mothers while they are breast-feeding, on medical grounds, and for a family to retain a young person to remain to help at home when all other siblings have been conscripted. In Muslim areas in the east, female recruitment is said to have ceased on account of substantial opposition on grounds of customary and religious beliefs.

Conscription is carried out by local authorities mainly through "round-ups" (giffa in the Tigrinya language) where police search houses, work-places and streets and roadblocks to check identity documents at roadblocks.

Young persons aged 17 are required to register for national service for the following year and are refused exit-permits to leave the country in order to prevent them evading conscription. A large number of young people have tried to avoid conscription by hiding or fleeing the country. There is also a high rate of defection from national service, despite the risks of being caught and severely punished. Members of banned religious groups who have been detained or who have been denied the right to practice their religion are among those who have fled the country.

On 4 November 2004, thousands of people of conscription age were arrested in Asmara and taken to Adi Abeto army prison. That night, a prison wall was apparently pushed over by some prisoners, and army guards opened fire, killing up to 28 prisoners and wounding many more. Surviving prisoners eligible for conscription were drafted into the army and others eventually released. In July and again in November 2005 in the Debub region in the south, parents and other relatives of individuals who had evaded conscription or fled the country were arrested and accused of complicity. They were only released if they deposited a bond of between 10,000 and 50,000 nakfas (US$660-US$3,000 equivalent) to produce the missing family member.

Militarization of education
National service is postponed for students, who must perform national service after their course. Graduation certificates are only presented on completion of national service. In addition, final year (11th grade) school students and all higher education students are required to do two to three months’ summer vacation work service under military control.(15) In 2003, an extra final school year (12th grade) was added for all children to be undertaken at Sawa military training centre under military authority and including military-type training. They are then selected for higher education or conscripted into the army. In 2003, the government stopped admitting undergraduate students to the University of Asmara, where students were reputed for dissent and opposition to national service or work-service, and allocated them to technical colleges instead.

In January 2004, the UNICEF representative in Eritrea was reported to have expressed concern that the militarization of education was a violation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which aims to promote the best interests of the child, because it resulted in the separation of children from their families and forced them into a military environment.

In these militarized educational structures, children and students who belong to the banned religious groups are targeted for the same religious persecution as civilian life. As described above (Section 5), in August 2003, 57 school students, including several girls, were arrested during their summer work project at Sawa military training centre on account of possessing bibles, and were severely punished. Religious expression is watched closely at schools, colleges and the University of Asmara, and evangelical students and teachers have been arrested. Currently several final year students of Halhale College are detained, and Semere Zaid, a university lecturer in agriculture, is in prison for the second time.(16)

No right to conscientious objection
Amnesty International takes no position as regards national military service but supports international standards which require that any government, such as Eritrea, which requires compulsory military service should recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service for reasons of individual’s religion (as with Jehovah's Witnesses) or as a matter of individual conscientious opinion or belief.

The denial of the right to conscientious objection to military service, affecting especially the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, is contrary to international law and the right to freedom of religion, belief and conscience. In terms of international law, the right to conscientious objection to military service is a basic component of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The UN Commission on Human Rights has urged governments to guarantee that individuals objecting to compulsory military service because of their conscientiously-held beliefs are given the opportunity to perform an alternative service. It has stated explicitly in a number of resolutions that this alternative service should be of a genuinely civilian character and of a length which cannot be considered to be a punishment. It has recommended that individuals be permitted to register as conscientious objectors at any point in time, before their conscription, after call-up papers have been issued, or during military service.

Military conscripts detained on account of their religion
Members of minority religious groups undergoing national service who have sought to practice their faith have been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

A former detainee who later fled the country told Amnesty International in 2004 of torture, confiscation and burning of bibles and religious cassettes in a military prison. He had previously been detained by the army and was later transferred to Nakura prison on the Dahlak Kebir island on the Red Sea, where many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are detained without charge or trial. He testified that some prisoners detained in Nakura prison who belonged to evangelical churches were punished with torture by tying on account of secretly having bibles in the prison, and their bibles were burned in front of them. His own Orthodox bible had been confiscated and burnt in front of him. He claimed that there was a secret military order during the latter part of the war with Ethiopia to punish anyone caught with a bible or singing hymns or praying. This was apparently because there had been a religious revival during the war with a number of conscripts being clandestinely converted to evangelical churches. According to the same testimony, Muslim prisoners were normally allowed to perform their regular prayers, but when Christians complained about being discriminated against, Muslims were stopped from praying too.

Hundreds of national service conscripts belonging to minority churches have been detained on different occasions and in different places on account of their faith, although details have been difficult to obtain, due to restricted access to military premises.

8. Torture and ill-treatment of religious prisoners of conscience
Amnesty International has frequently reported the use of torture in Eritrea as a punishment for political dissent and military offences, and as a means of interrogation.(17) It has been used against religious prisoners of conscience too, as punishment for practising their religion before being arrested or while in prison. In prison they are routinely prohibited any form of religious activity or discussion, bibles or religious materials, insulted and subjected to public humiliation. They are also commonly tortured or threatened to try to make them sign a statement agreeing to stop their religious worship and abandon their religion as a condition of release.

Typically, prisoners are tied up for several hours, once or repeatedly, in a position commonly known as “"helicopter”" (see sketch below, drawn by a torture survivor who is now a refugee) or in other positions. Prisoners are also beaten by teams of soldiers, or kept in solitary confinement in special underground punishment cells.

Conditions of detention often amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Metal shipping containers of the kind depicted in the photo below are used for religious as well as political prisoners, for example at Sawa army camp, Mai Serwa, Adi Abeto, Nakura prison on the Dahlak Kebir island, and many other army camps. They are usually overcrowded, suffocatingly hot in the day and cold at night. Prisoners are only allowed out for very short periods for toilet purposes, and water is rarely available for washing. Children are held with adults, and there are no special detention facilities for women, in contravention of international standards. Conditions in Wia and Gelalo army camps in eastern Eritrea are particularly harsh on account of the high desert temperatures.

For all prisoners, food is extremely poor and meagre. Many prisoners are ill but medical treatment is virtually non-existent. Prisoners falling seriously ill have been eventually admitted to hospital but swiftly returned to prison after treatment.

Several prisoners are said to have died on account of torture or denied of medical treatment. Pastor Ogbamichael Haimanot of the Kale Hiwot Church, who was arrested in January 2005 in Barentu, reportedly became mentally ill in Sawa army camp as a result of severe ill-treatment and denial of medical treatment – he was released in October 2005.

Over 150 of political prisoners, including many named in this report, are detained incommunicado in a security prison in Asmara known as Karchele, adjacent to the 2nd police station. Conditions there are particularly harsh. Some longer-term religious prisoners are held there incommunicado. Other detainees are held in a special security section of the 6th police station in Asmara. Many of the religious prisoners arrested in Asmara in 2004-2005 were taken first to the 5th police station, and then on to army custody, first in Adi Abeto, near Asmara, then to Mai Serwa, Sawa, Wia or Gelalo army camps.

9. Political prisoners and denial of the right to freedom of opinion
In addition to the religious prisoners described in this report, there are possibly thousands of prisoners of conscience in Eritrea who are imprisoned on account of their peaceful political opinions, as well as other political prisoners. The prisoners of conscience include 11 former government ministers who were members of parliament and former EPLF leaders. They have been detained since September 2001 in a crackdown targeting people openly calling for democratic reforms and for the President’s resignation after the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. There have been continual fears for their safety as their whereabouts and conditions have not been disclosed by the government. They were publicly accused of treason but never charged. They include Haile Woldetensae, former Foreign Minister, Petros Solomon, former EPLF security head and later Foreign Minister, and Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo, former Vice-President.

All private newspapers were also shut down (and remain closed) in September 2001. Ten leading journalists of the private press arrested at the same time and two state-media reporters arrested a few months later are still detained. The 12 detained journalists include Dawit Isaak(18), a Swedish citizen who has been refused access to Swedish government officials and is detained in Karchele security prison in Asmara, together with Fessahaye Yohannes (also known as “"Joshua”").

Several thousand prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners are believed to be held in indefinite and incommunicado detention without charge or trial, some of them in secret places of detention. Details and the whereabouts of most of them are unknown. Some political prisoners “"disappeared”" in the first weeks of independence, and others have evidently been extra-judicially executed since then. Some of the prisoners have been tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Many are held in appalling conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in metal shipping containers or underground cells, without adequate access to medical treatment or sanitary facilities.

Prisoners of conscience detained for political reasons also include former EPLF veterans and members of the armed forces; civil servants and professionals; and some 300 asylum-seekers fleeing military conscription who were forcibly returned by Malta in 2002 and by Libya in 2003 and are reportedly still detained.

Some prisoners of conscience of particular concern to Amnesty International are the following:

Aster Fissehatsion (f): aged in her 50s with one son, she joined the EPLF in 1974, becoming a representative of its women’s association. After independence, she worked as a civil servant and was elected to the central committee of the ruling party. She was arrested in the September 2001 round-up of political dissidents, who included her former husband, then Vice-President of Eritrea, Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo (see above). Her whereabouts in detention are not known.

Aster Yohannes (f): aged 46 with four children (including twins), she joined the EPLF in 1979 when she was an electrical engineering student. After independence in 1991, she brought up her children and worked as a civil servant. In January 2000 she went to study marketing at Phoenix University, Arizona, USA with a UN grant. Her husband, Petros Solomon (see above) was detained in 2001. Despite warnings of the risk of being arrested herself, she returned voluntarily to Eritrea on 11 December 2003 after her graduation to be with her children. She was detained on arrival at Asmara airport, despite a previous government guarantee of her safety. She is held in Karchele security prison in Asmara and has not been allowed to see her children. She is reportedly in a poor state of health emotionally and suffers from asthma and a heart disorder.

Bitwoded Abraha: aged 52, an army major general, former EPLF commander and deputy administrator of Assab port after independence, he has been detained since 1992 except for a few weeks of freedom, when he escaped in 1995 but was recaptured, and in August 1997 when he was released. However, two months later, he was re-detained for criticising the President. He is held in Karchele security prison in Asmara, and is reported to be mentally ill on account of long-term solitary confinement and denial of medical or psychiatric treatment.

Miriam Hagos (f): aged in her 50s, a commerce graduate and former EPLF fighter who worked in various departments of the EPLF, she was Director of Cinemas when she was detained on 6 October 2001. She was reportedly suspected of connections with the former government ministers detained the previous month. She has kidney and eye problems. She had been detained three times by the EPLF during the liberation struggle on account of her opinions. Her whereabouts in detention are not known.

Senait Debessai (f): aged in her 40s with three daughters, she joined the EPLF in 1976, initially working in healthcare. She later joined an EPLF cultural performance group. After independence she was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Eritrean Women. She moved to Kenya in the mid-1990s when her husband was appointed Eritrea’s ambassador to Kenya. On their return to Eritrea, Senait entered Asmara University to study accountancy. She was arrested on 15 November 2003, allegedly at the instigation of her pro-government husband with whom she was engaged in difficult divorce proceedings. Her arrests coincided with (and may be connected to) the arrest of her brother, Ermias Debessai, former EPLF representative in the United Kingdom during the liberation struggle, later Eritrea’s ambassador to China and now a prisoner of conscience. Both are detained incommunicado and separately in Karchele security prison, where both are in very poor health. Senait Debessai is reportedly ill after a kidney operation, while Ermias Debessai, a diabetic, is said to be extremely thin and undernourished.

Tewelde Gebremedhin, Minassie Andezion and Habtom Woldemichael - three trade unionists: they were detained in Asmara on 30 March 2005 and are held incommunicado and without charge. Their whereabouts in detention are not known. They were arrested at the office of the official National Federation of Eritrean Workers. The authorities have given no explanation for the arrests, which came at a time of proposed government changes to the trade union structure, which is closely aligned to the ruling party. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and other international trade union organisations have lodged a complaint at these arbitrary detentions with the International Labour Office (ILO).

Releases of prisoners of conscience
Apart from some of the religious prisoners whose releases are mentioned in section 5 above, only a few long-term prisoners of conscience are known to have been released since Amnesty International’s May 2004 report. Some of these may have been released on account of severe ill-health due to ill-treatment or denial of adequate medical treatment. Released prisoners are warned not to speak of their detention, kept under surveillance and rarely allowed to leave the country.

Prisoners of conscience who have been released in the past year include Saadia Ahmed (f), aged 24, an Arabic-language reporter for the official Eritrean Television Service, detained in February 2002; Aklilu Solomon, Voice of America (VOA) reporter, detained in July 2003; and Ali Mohamed Saleh, a former senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, detained in 2001.

10. Constitutional rights violated
The Eritrean Constitution, which was ratified by the Constituent Assembly on 23 May 1997, guarantees the right to freedom of religion, freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of expression and freedom of association. In Chapter III on Fundamental Rights, Freedoms and Duties, Article 19 guarantees freedom of “"Conscience, Religion, Expression of Opinion, Movement, Assembly and Organisation”".

Article 14 on Equality under the Law states that “"All persons are equal under the law”" (Article 14.1) and that “"No person may be discriminated against on account of race, ethnic origin, language, colour, gender, religion [highlighted here], disability, age, political view, or social or economic status or any other improper factors”".

Limitations are set on fundamental rights and freedoms “"in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, health or morals, for the prevention of public order or crime or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”" (Article 16.1). However, laws providing such limitations must be “"consistent with the principles of democracy and justice”" and must in any case not limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief as set out in Article 19.1 above. Any such law shall be “"null and void”" (Article 18.1). Any citizen claiming violation of a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution “"may petition a competent court for redress”" (Article 28.2).

In practice, the constitutional guarantees of the right to freedom of opinion and of religious belief are not implemented. Violations are systematically perpetrated by the authorities with impunity and without any possibility of legal protection or judicial redress. Constitutional protections against arbitrary detention and unfair trial (Article 17) and against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 16) are also not respected in practice. There is no Constitutional Court to rule on the implementation of the Constitution or on violations of the Constitution’s human rights protections.

11. International standards violated on the right to religious freedom
Under international human rights standards and international treaties to which Eritrea is a party, Eritrea is under obligation to respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including religious worship, assembly and association. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, affirm that everyone is entitled to these rights without distinction of any kind, including religion.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship or observance”". Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Eritrea acceded in 2002, adds: “"No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice”" (Article 18.2). General Comment no.22 of the Human Rights Committee notes that “"policies or practices having the same intention or effect [i.e. coercion], such as, for example… restricting access to education, medical care, employment or the rights guaranteed by article 25 … and other provisions of the Covenant are … inconsistent with Article 18(2)”".

States which have ratified the two International Human Rights Covenants are required to submit regular reports to the Human Rights Committee on the measures they have taken to give effect to the rights recognized in the Covenants. Eritrea has failed to submit its initial reports to the Human Rights Committee which were due on 22 April 2004.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Eritrea acceded in 1999, states that “"Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed”" (Article 8).

The right to religious freedom was elaborated in 1981 when the UN General Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The preamble to this Declaration considers that “"religion or belief, for anyone who professes either, is one of the fundamental elements in his conception of life and that freedom of religion or belief should be fully respected and guaranteed”". This is expanded in the various articles of the Declaration.

Article 6 sets out the relevant freedoms relevant to religion:
(a) To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain places for these purposes;
(b) To establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions;
(c) To make, acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief;
(d) To write, issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas;
(e) To teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes;
(f) To solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions;
(g) To train, appoint and elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief;
(h) To observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one’s religion or belief;
(i) To establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion or belief at the national and international levels.

As expressed by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief(19), persons deprived of their liberty have the right to freedom of religion or belief. Article 10, paragraph 1 of the ICCPR provides that “"All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”" In its General Comment No. 22 (1993) on Article 18 of the Covenant, the Human Rights Committee has stressed that “"[p]ersons already subject to certain legitimate constraints, such as prisoners, continue to enjoy their rights to manifest their religion or belief to the fullest extent compatible with the specific nature of the constraint”".

In 1986 the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to “"examine incidents and government actions in all parts of the world which would fall within the provisions of the Declaration and to recommend remedial measures”". In 2005 the Special Rapporteur's report to the Commission on Human Rights listed communications sent to the Government of Eritrea in 2004 concerning arrests of members of the Kale Hiwot church, Full Gospel Church, Rema Church, and others. The government in February 2004 replied that Jehovah’s Witnesses had not been arrested because of their religion beliefs but because they refused to participate in the national service program. Rema church and other church members were detained because they had refused to register and apply for permits. It said they were held for only 10 days because of the “"leniency and tolerance of the government”", denied they had been ill-treated, and described the charges of ill-treatment as “"only malicious defamations”". Amnesty International considers that the Eritrean government’s replies to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief failed to address the seriousness of the concerns about violations of right to freedom of religion and belief.

The Special Rapporteur asked for replies to three other communications and to her request in 2004 to visit Eritrea – to which she has still received no reply.(20) The Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, also sent urgent communications to the Government of Eritrea in connection with the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested on 24 January 2004.(21)

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, considering Eritrea’s report on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, expressed concern regarding the freedom of expression and religion in Eritrea in regard to children: “"Noting that the State party's Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression and religion, [it] is concerned at reports that measures affecting children and young people were taken against students on religious grounds, indicating that these rights were not duly upheld”".(22)

In April 2005 the Eritrean government representative told the UN Commission on Human Rights, in response to criticisms of religious persecution, that the Seventh Day Adventist Church would soon be given a permit.(23) To date, the permit has not been issued to this religion or three other minority religious groups which officials claimed were about to be registered, including the Baha’i religion, and they all remain banned.

On the question of registration of religion, Amnesty International does not object to administrative regulations for registration which are reasonable, practical and in conformity with international human rights standards. Amnesty International considers that the failure of the government to process the registration applications made by some minority religious groups and to register any of them for the last three years indicates a refusal to recognize the rights of the minority religious groups and their members to religious freedom. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the imposition of registration requirements for minority religious groups of an extremely restrictive and punitive character has led directly to widespread arrests, torture, and illegal arbitrary detention of members of religious groups, as well as other violations of their basic human rights.

Eritrea’s denial of a wide range of basic human rights to Jehovah’s Witnesses violates a number of principles in the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The government’s actions against Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious groups are in violation of the government’s obligations under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principles set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

Government’s dismissal of international criticism
The government has frequently reacted dismissively to criticisms of human rights violations, whether by Amnesty International or other international organizations, including media organizations concerned about detentions of journalists,(24) or by diplomats privately. Criticisms of religious persecution have been no exception. The government has rarely responded to Amnesty International members’ numerous Urgent Action appeals or replied to Amnesty International reports.

▪ On 1 May 2003, a government statement replying to criticisms but without making any reference to complaints about particular incidents and cases, merely cited what the Constitution said about the right to freedom of religion."People are free to worship according to their wish, or to refrain from worshipping or practising religion".(25)
▪ In December 2003 the Eritrean government described as "scandalous and misleading" the reference to Eritrea as one of11 countries severely violating religious liberty in the US State Department's global report on International Religious Freedom in 2003(26), but it did not comment on or attempt to refute any of the facts presented.(27) Subsequently in September 2004, the US Government designated Eritrea as a “"country of particular concern”" under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The US State Department 2005 report on religious freedom in Eritrea was also extremely critical.(28)
▪ In April 2005, the Director of the Office of the President said that “"one cannot question the credentials of this country on religious rights and religious tolerance… If a sect assembles without permission, its members may be arrested for five hours and then let off with a warning”".(29)
▪ In September 2005, the Acting Minister of Information, in response to criticism by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) relating to secret and arbitrary detentions of journalists since 2001, stated: “"That is our own affair, a sovereign issue. It is up to us what, why, when and where we do things”".(30)

The government has refused to cooperate with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which criticised the detentions of 11 members of parliament and called for their release.(31) The IPU has to date received no reply to its request to send a mission to the country.

In denying basic human rights and continuing to postpone implementation of the Constitution’s requirements for establishing multi-party democracy in place of the current one-party rule, and in refusing international human rights dialogue and access to the country, the Eritrean President and government have turned Eritrea into a virtually “"closed”" country in respect of its international community obligations and cooperation.

12. Refugees fleeing from religious persecution
Hundreds of members of banned religious groups have fled the country to seek asylum abroad. Some had been arbitrarily detained and tortured, while others fled in fear of similar or other human rights violations. In total, about 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses have sought asylum over the last decade. Many members of evangelical churches have also fled in the past three years. There has been a very large flow of Eritrean refugees to neighbouring countries(32), particularly Sudan, whose border is close to Sawa army camp. Some of these fled due to refusal to perform compulsory national service. Their treatment as asylum seekers in countries such as Sudan or Kenya is often poor(33) and many have tried to reach other countries.

Persons who object to compulsory military service and/or associated participation in military action based on religious convictions or other reasons of conscience may be considered to be refugees under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (‘Refugee Convention’) in particular circumstances, such as where there are no alternatives to military service available or where punishment for refusing to perform it is disproportionately severe.(34)

Amnesty International considers that asylum seekers who have fled Eritrea after being detained or at risk of detention on account of their religion would be further detained if returned forcibly to Eritrea. They would be at risk of torture as well as indefinite arbitrary detention, especially if they had previously been imprisoned on account of their beliefs and conditionally released, or if they had escaped from conscription. In addition, they would be accused of betraying their country by fleeing, and could be punished harshly for that too.

In January 2004 the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a general guideline, which is still current, advising against the return of rejected asylum seekers to Eritrea on account of the poor human rights situation.

13. Amnesty International’s recommendations
Amnesty International makes the following recommendations to the Government of Eritrea concerning the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Recommendations are also made about aspects of the administration of justice and the rule of law as they relate to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and prisoners of conscience detained on account of their religious beliefs.

In particular, as the 25th anniversary approaches in 2006 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Base on Religion or Belief, Amnesty International calls on the Government of Eritrea to respond positively to the call of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, addressed to governments and NGOs around the world, to promote freedom of religion and challenge rising trends across the world of religious intolerance.

13.1 Religious freedom
The government should publicly affirm the rights to freedom of conscience, religion, opinion and expression of opinion, movement, assembly and association, in line with its obligations under international human rights law and as set out in Article 19 of the Constitution;

All prisoners of conscience, including those imprisoned for their religious beliefs, should be immediately and unconditionally released;
The government should publicly affirm the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in line with its obligations under international human rights law. In particular, no one should be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment to force them to cease practising their religion, to deny their faith or to join another religion;
Children should not be imprisoned on account of their religious beliefs, or their parents’ religious beliefs;
The government should respect and protect the right to practice a religion, including meeting for worship and using religious texts and materials, both in civilian and military life;
Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs should not be subject to limitations, except for those prescribed by law and necessary to protect public, safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others;
The requirement for registration of religious organizations should be revised to ensure that this is not punitive or restrictive of the right to practice a religion;
The government should recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service. It should introduce provisions without delay for alternative civilian service which are not punitive or under military control or administration, for those whose religious, spiritual, moral, humanitarian, philosophical, political or other conscientiously-held beliefs preclude them from performing military service. An independent and impartial decision-making procedure for applying for a civilian alternative to military service should be established;
The government should end all discrimination against Jehovah's Witnesses on account of their religion, and ensure that their civil, political, economic and social rights are respected and protected.

13.2 The administration of justice and the rule of law
The following recommendations apply equally to all people deprived of their liberty, including those detained on account of their religious beliefs.

Torture and other ill-treatment
The President and officials responsible for the administration of justice should publicly declare their total opposition to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They should condemn these practices unreservedly whenever they occur and make clear to all members of the police, military and security services that torture and other ill-treatment are crimes which will not be tolerated, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice;
The government should ratify the UN Convention against Torture and implement its provisions, including by ensuring effective training of police, military and security officials, including their duty to refuse to obey any order to commit torture or other ill-treatment;
The government should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and, in line with its provisions, establish an effective national preventive mechanism for visiting places of detention;
The use of tying (for example in the “"helicopter”" torture technique) as a punishment or as a method of interrogation must immediately end;
All complaints and reports of torture and other ill-treatment should be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by a body independent of the alleged perpetrators. Officials suspected of committing torture or other ill-treatment should be suspended from active duty during the investigation, and complainants, witnesses and others at risk protected from intimidation and reprisals;
Victims of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should obtain redress and have the right to reparation, including rehabilitation and compensation.

Arbitrary and unlawful detention
The government should immediately stop the illegal practice of indefinite arbitrary detention without charge or trial, incommunicado detention and detention in secret detention centres;
Everyone deprived of their liberty should be allowed to take proceedings before a court to challenge the lawfulness of the detention;
No one should be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest;
Everyone arrested should be informed of the reason for their arrest and informed promptly of any charge against them;
Everyone deprived of their liberty should be brought promptly before a judge and brought to trial within a reasonable time, or released.

The right to fair trial
Anyone accused of an offence punishable by imprisonment or other significant penalty, or any other criminal offence, should be treated in conformity with international standards and entitled to a fair trial in line with Eritrea’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These include: the right to prepare and present a legal defence with the assistance of legal defence counsel; the presumption of innocence; the right of an accused person to be informed promptly of the charges against them; to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence and to communicate in private with counsel of their choice; the right to a fair and public hearing in their presence and without undue delay by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law; not to be compelled to testify against themselves or to confess guilt; and the right of appeal to a higher court;
The independence of the judiciary must be guaranteed;
No one should be given a prison sentence through an extra-judicial procedure contrary to the laws and Constitution of Eritrea, as well as principles of the rule of law;
An independent system of military justice should be established with jurisdiction over members of the armed forces, including national service conscripts, containing full guarantees of the right to a fair trial before an impartial and competent court.

Incommunicado or secret detention
No one should be detained except in an officially designated place of custody or prison. Security prisons such as Karchele prison in Asmara should be brought within the framework of the prison administration;
The practice of holding prisoners in metal shipping containers must end immediately;
Civilians should not be detained in military premises, such as Sawa army camp, Mai Serwa, Adi Abeto, Wia, Gelalo, Nakura army camps or others;
An up-to-date register of detainees should be maintained in every prison or other place of custody. Information about the arrest of any person and where they are held, including transfers and releases, should be made available promptly to relatives, lawyers, the courts and others with a legitimate interest. The government should keep a central register of detainees to enable relatives to trace anyone arrested and prevent any “"disappearance”" in custody;
Detainees should have effective access to relatives, lawyers and medical doctors without delay after arrest and regularly thereafter.
Constitutional and legal safeguards against unlawful detention and "disappearances" must be immediately implemented, including guaranteeing an effective right to remedies such as habeas corpus;
Any public official suspected to be responsible for the “"disappearance”" should be brought to justice;
All prisoners should be treated humanely and their rights as prisoners respected in accordance with recognized relevant international standards, particularly the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of All Prisoners;
The government should open all its prisons and other places of custody to inspection by appropriate independent humanitarian bodies.

Human rights observance
Amnesty International renews its call on the President and Government of Eritrea to institute reforms and practises which will establish respect for human rights in Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea should ensure that human rights are respected and protected by the government and enjoyed by all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction;
The government should comply with requirements to report to the bodies responsible for monitoring implementation of the international human rights treaties to which Eritrea is a party. It should respond positively to any requests for information made by UN independent experts, including the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and on freedom of religion or belief, and extend invitations to those independent experts to visit Eritrea;
Individuals should be allowed to exercise effectively their right to freedom of association, and in particular to form and join independent human rights organizations and carry out the work of promoting and protecting human rights without fear of reprisal. The government should recognize the legitimate role of human rights defenders as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The government should allow free and open access to the country by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.

13.3 Recommendations to the international community
Amnesty International calls on the international community - the UN and its specialized agencies, the African Union, the European Union and other countries with specific bilateral ties with Eritrea - to support these recommendations in their relations with the Government of Eritrea, and to give special attention to protecting and promoting human rights, including the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief;

Amnesty International calls on all governments to ensure that Eritreans who have fled abroad are given access to asylum procedures and have their application fairly and efficiently assessed. Amnesty International urges governments not to forcibly return any rejected Eritrean asylum seekers to Eritrea due to the poor human rights situation.

********

(1) Eritrea attained de facto independence in 1991, and formally recognised independence in 1993 after a UN-supervised referendum.

(2) For further details of Amnesty International’s concerns and general recommendations about human rights violations in Eritrea, see "Eritrea: ‘You have no right to ask’ - Government resists scrutiny on human rights", Amnesty International, May 2004 (AI Index: AFR 64/003/2004); "Eritrea: Arbitrary detentions of government critics and journalists", Amnesty International, September 2002 (AI Index: AFR 64/008/2002); and numerous Urgent Action appeals and other articles, which are available on www.amnesty.org.

(3) Proclamation No.145/2005 of 11 May 2005 "to determine the administration of non-governmental organisations" requires NGOs to submit quarterly progress reports and audited annual financial reports, pay taxes on all imported goods including food aid, deposit substantial funds (which many do not have) in an Eritrean bank – US$1 million for local NGOs (who must immediately declare publicly and officially inform the Ministry of any donations received) and US$2 million for foreign NGOs.

(4) These include Oxfam (Great Britain), Catholic Relief Services, Lutheran World Federation, ACCORD, Africare, Norwegian Church Aid, International Rescue Committee, Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps and Japan Emergency NGO.

(5) UN Consolidated Appeals Process, 2005.

(6) The term "minority religious group" is used here to distinguish them from the four officially recognized and registered religions above.

(7) This order, although not officially published, was confirmed in further speeches and actions by the authorities.

(8) According to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ representatives, the refusal to bear arms is a central principle of their religion throughout the world, for which they have been and still are persecuted in many countries. This principle derives from a central requirement of members to "render unto Caesar [i.e. a government] what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's". They do not engage in politics and do not refuse civic duties unrelated to the military and war.

(9) BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 4 March 1995, quoting the official Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea in the Tigrinya language.

(10) Interview with Yemane Gebremeskal, IRIN (UN) News Agency, 1 April 2004.

(11) See section 7 below on national military service.

(12) For example, Compass Direct (www.compassdirect.org), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (www.csw.org), the Office of Public Information of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.jw-media.org) and Release Eritrea (www.releaseeritrea.org).

(13) See section 7 on the militarization of education.

(14) The EDA comprises 16 exile opposition groups. It is supported by Sudan and Ethiopia, while Eritrea supports armed Ethiopian opposition groups, the Oromo Liberation Front and the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which are fighting inside Ethiopia.

(15) In August 2001 hundreds of University of Asmara students who refused the summer work project were arrested, beaten and made to work in harsh conditions at Wia and Gelalo army camps, where at least two died from heat stroke.

(16) See incidents described in section 5 above.

(17) Eritrea: "You have no right to ask" – Government resists scrutiny on human rights, Amnesty International, May 2004 (AI Index: AFR 64/003/2004.

(18) On 21 November 2005 Eritrea’s Acting Minister of Information stated that Dawit Isaak had been released temporarily for medical treatment but would be returned to prison afterwards. At the time of writing, it appeared that he was back in Karchele security prison.

(19) UN Document A/60/399, paragraph 73.

(20) See UN document General Assembly on Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, 30 September 2005.

(21) UN document E/CN.4/2005/61/Add.i, 15 March 2005.

(22) Section 29, July 2003, CRC/C/15/Add.204, 2 July 2003.

(23) The Seventh Day Adventist Church has had no members arrested, as far as is known.

(24) For example, the International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Sans Frontières.

(25) Eritrea Arrests, Conscripts More Protestant Christians, Compass Direct, 1 May 2003.

(26) US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Article 19, the International Press Institute, December 2003.

(27) www.state.gov.

(28) US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, 8 November 2005, www.state.gov.

(29) Agence France Presse, 5 April 2005.

(30) Agence France Presse, 19 September 2005.

(31) IPU resolution, Manila, 8 April 2005.

(32) For more details, see Eritrea: "You have no right to ask" – Government rejects scrutiny on human rights, Amnesty International, May 2004, see also section 9 of this report.

(33) Report on Eritrean Refugees in Kenya, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, September 2005, www.csw.org.uk.

(34) UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva, re-edited 1992), paras. 167-174; UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection, including Religion-Based Refugee Claims under Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees , UN doc. HCR/GIP/04/06, 28 April 2004, paras. 25-26.
 
Source:  www.amnesty.org


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|W|P|113450472217669074|W|P|Just for laughs!|W|P|jesse.masai@gmail.com12/14/2005 02:22:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|ha ha ha what a great semi play , if there isa word like that. that is great man and I just loved the conversation between mzee and our poor president. it really sounds like what the two would talk about. kudos12/15/2005 12:10:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|Kontriman, this is really funny and has made my day SANA!12/13/2005 11:11:00 pm|W|P|Kenyananalyst|W|P|
My President lacks a working vision for a "working" nation. There being no vision, this nation - and not just his presidency - is on the brink of perishing. I had thought he would've felt our pulse following the naming of his new Cabinet last week but apparently he hasn't. Our fellow citizens are perishing for lack of knowledge on the gravity of this matter. This thing ain't just about numbers for the next session of Parliament; it has everything to do with our destiny beyond such shenenigans.

|W|P|113450469974699181|W|P|My President has lost it; again!|W|P|jesse.masai@gmail.com12/13/2005 10:55:00 am|W|P|Kenyananalyst|W|P|
I c quite a number of fellows here pouring cold water on the MoU story and trivializing its relevance to the historical and political context for the issues at hand. No trouble with that, except that none of you is going to give a honest response to the modern-day challenges of our nationhood without honestly wrestling with the moral and political issues in the MoU. It can't be wished away. It's as simple and difficult as that.
|W|P|113446051358339200|W|P|A point for MoU revisionists|W|P|jesse.masai@gmail.com12/13/2005 10:15:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Wamweri|W|P|Thanks Jesse,

Our modern day challenges to our nationhood were spelt out by our president yesterday. He also spelt out what the way forward is (in his opinion). It just happens that he made a lot of sense to me.

What has ODM told me about our modern day challenges? All they are saying to Kenyans is that Kibaki reneged on the MoU, he didnt consult when picking a cabinet, That he is surrounded by hard liners who are manipulating him. Is this what, as a patriotic Kenyan, you would like to hear?

Wouldn't you rather hear about what problems KENYANS have and how to resolve them? ODM want snap elections, in other words they are asking Kenyans to ignore the progress that has been made, and the progress that we have been assured will be made and go back to the drawing board.

Do you honestly think that we should scrap all plans for economic recovery and start from scratch? Lets be honest, the euphoria is settling down and ODM are finding themselves standing on a very weak foundation. The two camps have two totally different foundations to claim a mandate from.

The govt is claiming successes in governance, and ODM is claiming the no vote was a mandate to them.

Its easy to see who we should throw our weight behind.12/13/2005 10:16:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|No, my dear Wamweri -

It ain't as simple as that.

If you are looking for skeletons on both sides of the divide, you'll find them.

December 12th was an excellent piece at semantics and public relations.

A State of the Union address it might have been, but its import wasn't lost on any keen observer.

When you'll have finished lauding one side and demonizing the other, you'll realize that you still will be faced by that singular test to our nationhood: The MoU.

And it's the substance of it that, if honestly reflected upon and considered by everyone, would make so much else that's doing the rounds in the name of "moving foward" a shallow proposition indeed.

Sadly, there isn't even honour among thieves these days.12/13/2005 10:16:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|There's a serious offense under the Penal Code referred to as "obtaining goods by false pretense". Kibaki obtained our votes by false pretense. Even worse, Kibaki appended his signature to the MoU, swearing before a Commissioner of Oaths. Anyone who's dealt with Commissioners of Oaths know that giving false info or breaching any of the contents is criminal. I wish the State Law Office were independent.

To the MoU revisitionists, try harder but you'll never rewrite history!!12/13/2005 10:17:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mwangi|W|P|Jesse:

We all have to agree that politics is indeed a dirty game. I hate (and hate in this context is a very strong word) to trivialize the whole MoU document, however, it is just that -- a document.

I recall debating this issue with a few wazee's in the US a couple of years ago, and their argument was that the document would never hold any waters because it was just that - a document.

As we enter into partnerships e.g. marriage, business, or other... we get legal binding documents that spell out our argreements in the contract. In my opinion, you can not hold an MoU hostage as a legal binding contract. Rather, it can be, and should be (again in my opinion) treated as an agreement of co-habitation; where either party can walk out of it without remorse.

If the learned complaining signatories of the MoU document are sincere to themselves, why didn't they make it a legal binding document that they could use to hold accountable those who are claimed to have breached it? Should we therefore hold our good learned friend Lawyer Kalonzo accountable for not building a contract instead?

Borrorwed From: http://thesaurus.reference.com/search?q=Memorandum

Main Entry: Memorandum
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: note
Synonyms: announcement, chit, diary, directive, dispatch, epistle, jotting, letter, memo, message, minute, missive, notation, notice, record, reminder, tickler
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: certificate of deposit
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: government insured debt instrument
Synonyms: CD, certificate, credit Memorandum, credit slip, deposit slip, term CD, time deposit
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: commonplace book
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: memorabilia notebook
Synonyms: adversaria, diary, journal, memo book, Memorandum book
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: directive
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: command
Synonyms: charge, communication, decree, dictate, edict, injunction, mandate, memo, Memorandum, message, notice, order, ordinance, regulation, ruling, ukase, word
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: entry
Part of Speech: noun 4
Definition: listing
Synonyms: account, item, jotting, memo, Memorandum, minute, note, registration
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: letter
Part of Speech: noun 2
Definition: note
Synonyms: acknowledgment, answer, billet, cannonball, communication, Dear John, dispatch, epistle, junk mail, kite, line, mash note, memo, Memorandum, message, missive, note, poison-pen, postcard, reply, report, scratch, tab, tag, thank you
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: letter of credit
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: bank document guaranteeing customer credit
Synonyms: banker's credit, circular note, credit Memorandum, credit slip, L/C, lettre de creance
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: list
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: record
Synonyms: account, agenda, archive, arrangement, ballot, bill, brief, bulletin, calendar, canon, catalog, catalogue, census, checklist, contents, dictionary, directory, docket, draft, enumeration, file, gazette, index, inventory, invoice, lexicon, lineup, listing, loop, manifest, Memorandum, menu, outline, panel, poll, program, prospectus, register, roll, roll call, row, schedule, screed, scroll, series, slate, statistics, syllabus, table, tabulation, tally, thesaurus, ticket, timetable, vocabulary
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: message
Part of Speech: noun 1
Definition: communication
Synonyms: bulletin, cannonball, communiqué, directive, dispatch, dope, earful, epistle, hot wire, information, intelligence, intimation, letter, memo, Memorandum, missive, news, note, notice, paper, poop, report, tidings, word
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Main Entry: missive
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: communication
Synonyms: cannonball, dispatch, epistle, kite, letter, line, memo, Memorandum, message, note, report, word
Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.12/13/2005 10:18:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Just a "document?" And you still want the rest of the country to trust you over other "documents" when you can barely honour a gentleman's agreement between yourself and other folks?12/13/2005 11:56:00 pm|W|P|Blogger Kenyananalyst|W|P|In your opinion, what reasons can you list why Kibaki's govt should fold and call for snap elections?

In my opinion, he has done a cracking job, and he is currently in the middle of a political muddle. Something that should be expected if you are the president. I dont think he should fold and ODM et al calling for snap polls are being opportunistic.12/13/2005 11:58:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Wamweri|W|P|Sorry for mix-up on my site...the previous post was by Wamweri:
In your opinion, what reasons can you list why Kibaki's govt should fold and call for snap elections?

In my opinion, he has done a cracking job, and he is currently in the middle of a political muddle. Something that should be expected if you are the president. I dont think he should fold and ODM et al calling for snap polls are being opportunistic.12/14/2005 11:29:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Wamweri, what part on No didn't u understand?12/14/2005 11:30:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Patriot|W|P|my guy mwangi

it seems u have declared the covenant of the mou as just a 'document'. this might be the biggest missleading or understanding u have of the word. when r.tuju took kicc byforce he refused to honor...a document from court. before kenya can go to war the president has to sign a 'document'. when yo getting your id at the d.o's office u sign a document. and if i bring it close to home for you..... that visa u have, if it expires and immigration catch up with u. do u honestly think that your best deffense will be....' aaahh msijali hiyo ni document tu'. the documents such as the mou are legally bidding documents that are not just a document, when kibaki refused to honour it, stood by and watched kicc saga, gave out public land and forests against a court oder and you and the council of wazees telling us its just a document.......then i fear for mother kenya for what else apart from just a document do we have.......a firm hand shake????????12/14/2005 11:31:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Thanks Jikz...thanks Patriot!!!12/14/2005 03:45:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|A document - that's what a Constitution is. The Parliamentary standing orders, the election voters card, the National ID, Driving Licences, Certificate of Titles, a Cheque or even a Education award or certificate are all documents which have no meaning if the contents are chosen to be ignored.

A marriage vow is more a valued promise than that document which we call a marriage certificate signed by a few witnesses who are not part and parcel to the day to day lifes of the couple, after the day of marriage. But a vow is a promise and on that basis a document is made. MOU was a document to keep a promise and therefore cannot become history but shall remain part of our history. Its a promise which has been broken and many more such promises made to Kenyans broken.12/14/2005 03:50:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Petresh|W|P|Sorry for mix-up...the previous comment was by Petresh:
A document - that's what a Constitution is. The Parliamentary standing orders, the election voters card, the National ID, Driving Licences, Certificate of Titles, a Cheque or even a Education award or certificate are all documents which have no meaning if the contents are chosen to be ignored.

A marriage vow is more a valued promise than that document which we call a marriage certificate signed by a few witnesses who are not part and parcel to the day to day lifes of the couple, after the day of marriage. But a vow is a promise and on that basis a document is made. MOU was a document to keep a promise and therefore cannot become history but shall remain part of our history. Its a promise which has been broken and many more such promises made to Kenyans broken.12/14/2005 08:38:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Pretesh, you can say that again.12/14/2005 08:39:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jizafrik|W|P|The MOU was NOTHING MORE than just a private agreement between groups of individul people. It has no legal implication whatsoever and is totally irellevant in the eyes of the law. and to Kenyan's?? We do not even know the full contents of the document as it is not publicly available!! SO the again is is publicly unimportant. Since it was a private agreement i do not see what the noise is all about by evenryone. Let them go to the board rooms and battle it out themselves.

And on the issue of "MOU's" i think they are better agreed upon after the election and the incumbent party fails to gain a majority in parliament. I would call it rather imprudent for someone to agree to something that your are not sure will materialise (especially how unloyal and untrustworthy ALL politicians are)!!!!

For the sake of all of us, yes the members of the MOU were duped, they should take it like men/women, deal with it and move on, and focus on the next election ( or don't they say no use crying over spilled milk??)12/14/2005 08:39:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|I dont care about the MOU and its contents but to talk of it as an agreement between indiviaduals without any legal implication would imply that the Kibaki admin so much holds the rule of law that if the MoU was a legal document, it would have been honoured!! Did Kimunya not declare the legal title deeds pieces of paper? Did Tuju not take KICC illegally? How many court orders have Kibaki himself trashed in pursuit of his narrow survival interests? How many termination of cases have the AG done to save the face of the Kibaki admin even when it was apprarent the law was violeted. Remember the case of Mbathi and the Banana campaign sectretariat? The case of Lucy and the KNT guy? The case of Sasina and the rancher in Naivasha? What is legal and lawful in Kenya is only so when it is so in the eyes of the Kibaki admin. Otherwise nothing else is legal. They will trash anything else as illegal to serve thier interests.12/14/2005 08:40:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jizafrik|W|P|---> Kimani

Lets not mix the law with individual opinions. For all those that you have mentioned, there are laws concerning it and if the government does not uphold the law, its a really sad and sorry affair.

As for the MoU, my point is that all the hullabaloo about it is just aimless, what happens at 2007? It is not a sacred document to be guarded and pledged allegence to by any citizen!! The parties concerned should be the ones sorting out themselves since the citizens had NO INPUT WHATSOEVER!! Other MOU's will be reached and breached jusk like this one!!!12/14/2005 08:40:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mugutha|W|P|I have one question for you all.
What were the contents of this much talked about MOU? If indeed the contents augured well for the lot of KENYANS, why have they not been made public for us to judge whether trashing them, as we are made to believe Kibaki did, or not was the prudent or imprudent thing to do.
The truth shall set you free and i unless we know the contents, i think our arguments are all in vain.
What was the import of the document for Kenyans.
I would rather deal with the brutal facts than the alternative.
Can someone get a copy of this document that apparently is a watershed in our history?12/14/2005 08:41:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|To go back to the contents of the damn thing is useless. I wonder whether anybody is nolonger concerned with the honouring of the MOU. It will not help anybody. What we must acknowledge however is that it was an agreement,( whether legal or gentleman's agreement is immaterial) it was trashed, and this brought about the current political crisis. These are facts, like it or not. Nobody can trust you when you promise to give squatters land during referendum and after you lose, you evict them from the same land, promise water and dont deliver it, promise 500,000 jobs and dont deliver it. All this hype with increased perfomence of the economy as I have said in this forum earlier was just but a statistical gimmick. The economy though picking up, is not growing up at that rate. If you know the law of contract, you will acknowlege that an agreement is binding provided there is intention to contract, capacity to make the contract, there is an offer and consideration and finally an acceptance of the offer. Tell me which of these were not in the MoU. It is useless talking too much about the MoU but we cannot say it was trash, because it has exposed how dishonest the President was when signing it. He must have all along knew he was not going to honour it, but still signed it anyway to hoodwink others. After all, the constitution allowed him all the manouvers and he was not keen to change it either. It was too bad I had to travel home in December 2002 to give my vote to such a dishonest self centered guy. But did I have a choice, since I wanted Kanu out by all means??12/14/2005 08:42:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mwangi|W|P|Sorry to disagree with you on this one.

2 things come to mind...

1. I dare immigration to come and pata me... Though my visa expired many moons ago -- yes I did let it expire(but not before I got my green card :) ), and NO as a Kenyan citizen, I refuse to give up my country of birth in lieu of American citizenship -- that is why I petitioned for the inclusion of dual citizenship in the new constitution.

2. If you look at the description of a Memorandum - which I carefully borrowed from the dictionary.com, I do not believe that it quantifies it as a legal binding document. Is it a gentlemans agreement? It certainly is. But at the end of the day, my good friend, it is just that "a document".

Now, the issue about KICC. I don't know the facts, however, if there was a contract in place, then it should have been honored.

patriot wrote:

my guy mwangi

it seems u have declared the covenant of the mou as just a 'document'. this might be the biggest missleading or understanding u have of the word. when r.tuju took kicc byforce he refused to honor...a document from court. before kenya can go to war the president has to sign a 'document'. when yo getting your id at the d.o's office u sign a document. and if i bring it close to home for you..... that visa u have, if it expires and immigration catch up with u. do u honestly think that your best deffense will be....' aaahh msijali hiyo ni document tu'. the documents such as the mou are legally bidding documents that are not just a document, when kibaki refused to honour it, stood by and watched kicc saga, gave out public land and forests against a court oder and you and the council of wazees telling us its just a document.......then i fear for mother kenya for what else apart from just a document do we have.......a firm hand shake????????12/14/2005 08:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Sepeni|W|P|MOU has no bases at all to felllow kenyan, it was a dirty non binding agreement that was set up to facilitate a coalition, by pre KANU blood, to get them to leadership posts through the short cut means, since they very knew the electolate could not elect them to lead kenya.

2007 election is coming soon, let ODM get ready for election, and they will be amazed what kenyans will turn them to be. Non waheshimiwa.

God bless kenya, and help us get rid of KANU(ODM)12/14/2005 08:57:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mwangi|W|P|Pretesh:

Mostly agreed.

However, the MoU was not between the signers of the document and Kenyans, but rather an agreement between the leaders of the respective parties. By the way, the individuals who reportedly signed the documents did not confer with their party members before signing the said documents -- As a Langata resident then, I know for a fact that Raila did not contact us and discuss the contents of the MoU. Even as I type this, I am yet to see the contents of the document...

pretesh wrote:

A document - that's what a Constitution is. The Parliamentary standing orders, the election voters card, the National ID, Driving Licences, Certificate of Titles, a Cheque or even a Education award or certificate are all documents which have no meaning if the contents are chosen to be ignored.

A marriage vow is more a valued promise than that document which we call a marriage certificate signed by a few witnesses who are not part and parcel to the day to day lifes of the couple, after the day of marriage. But a vow is a promise and on that basis a document is made. MOU was a document to keep a promise and therefore cannot become history but shall remain part of our history. Its a promise which has been broken and many more such promises made to Kenyans broken12/14/2005 10:33:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Thank you Kimani!! I hope wamweri consults his dictionary more.

To wamweri, does it mean only your tribesmen can be loyal or trustworthy? I voted for Kibaki and Mbaru (who was rigged out for Kamanda), they were not not my tribemen. The next time my tribesman ain't on the ballot, I'll not vote. That's just fair, right?

In Kenya, tribalism is acceptable, as long as it's GEMA. Some superiority complex, I'd say. How sad!!12/14/2005 10:47:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|So I get the reason why Koigi and Kajwang could not agree on anything. If what we can call the cream of the Kenyan citizenry living abroad still cannot agree on anything so basic and cannot stop arguing over spilt milk!!! But it does not surprise me. Some of these guys in the US and elsewhere got scholarhips and other favours during the Kanu regime to go out to study at the expense of other more deserving Kenyans. Not all though. Dont misquote me. Its like admitting a guy with a C+ into a degree in law at the University of Nairobi and latter in life comparing this guy's intellectual capacity with another who got a B (Plain) but did not go to University because he could not afford to pay the parallel tuition fee. Some of these guys dont even go back home (To Kenya) leave alone voting. They are however the laudest in critisizing the Moi govt, when nobody benefited more than them. We know some of them and we can name them.12/14/2005 10:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mwangi|W|P|kimanimungai

Help me understand. Where are you going with this? I see a disconnect between your thoughts and the MoU discussion. No? Yes?

Mwangi12/14/2005 10:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Just one question: How many of you were in Kenya in 2002 and actually voted? We can then sort out this MoU thing amicably.12/14/2005 10:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|Mwangi,

It is high time we discussed issues. Not things that will never make Kenya better at all at this time. So what if the MoU was legal or illegal? Why must we dwell on this for ever? As we give analysis, I think it is more important to focus on the future of our country than discuss nonsensical stuff like the MoU. As I said, I dont care its contents but its trashing by the President showed me a character in the leadership that I dont want to forget just now. So if I discuss the future, I can only relate the MoU and the future on the basis that I must be cautious to trust Kibaki on any of his promises. He has never honoured any. This deos not mean that I should waste all the time writting whether the document was legal or not, whether it should be honoured or not.

Where are the Wangare Mathais of this generation? Who will stand and say this was wrong whether it was done by somebody from her village or from another province? I see all the arguments here and cannot afford miss linking them with the names of the contributors - So unfortunate!! This is the truth. This is how far tribalism has eaten our society to the extent that when we are abroad we still think very narrow-mindedly. Very tribally.12/14/2005 10:49:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|@kimani
What the likes of mwangi don't understand is that we're not discussing the contents or legality of the MoU but the act of Kibaki reneging on a deal he'd signed. I wonder if they ever ask themselves what would happen to Kenya's international reputation were the government to trash all those bilateral MoUs they sign.

The truth of the matter is, Kibaki is not bankable. We all know that a President or leader who cannot command the trust of his people is as good as dead. See how Republicans and Bush get worried when opinion polls indicates that public trust in the President is waning. They'd rather have low numbers on other aspects, but not on trust. It's dangerous when people cannot take their President seriously.

I still ask, how many arguing for or against the MoU were in Kenya in 2002 and actually voted?12/14/2005 11:30:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Jikz, the Grand Old Party runs scared everytime President Bush is in the reds (statistically speaking); look at how he has been attempting to shore up support after Katrina / increased trouble in Iraq / the Scooter Libby affair.

2002: I was home and my vote counted, - jst that I doubt I'll give it to the same man again, even if the economy were to grow at 10%p.a in the next 2 years.12/14/2005 11:30:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|I travelled all the way to my village primary school to vote for this govt. It was a good govt for around a week when it started becoming drunk with power. I dont regret the time and money I used to go home to vote this govt because Moi is out. But I will be economical with the truth if I said I am happy with the performance of my govt this far. I am sure my laywer friend back in Kenya is also equally dissappointed. I wish I stored that SMS he sent me a day after the elections written "We have won" and showed it to him today!!!

Ask me why I am dissapointed and we already have free primary education, economy is growing at 5 percent and the tax man has surpased his targets. We will balance together with you the government's books and see if this income in the from of taxes is translating into welfare!12/14/2005 11:31:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Good! I'm taking count. My hypothesis is that opinions on the MoU largely depend on whether one was in Kenya in 2002 and voted. Let's hope the rest respond to this question, the we can call a truce.

@Kimani, I agree with you. I don't regret my vote either, but find it awkward facing the many skeptical people I convinced to support Kibaki because he was a good choice. And believe me, opinions were truly divided on Kibaki in 2002. Let's save that for another day. The economic growth is all good but there's more to a people's development that GDP growth. Kwanza, all that talk of impressive tax performance is a smokescreen; KRA isn't collecting even 40% of taxes due. More so, KRA is collecting more than they are reporting, and we all know where the balance goes. It doesn't matter how much tax we collect if only to use it to expand the Cabinet and extend political patronage.12/14/2005 11:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|jikz,

When you start talking about issues like this, some of these guys go underground. There is something called tax bouyancy, optimal tax and tax productivity which the KRA never want to hear anybody talk about. You know you can collect 100 percent of your target but still you are at 10 percent to the optimal. If the optimal is 100 billion and you set yourself a target of 10 billion, then collect 12 billion, you shall have surpassed your target by 20 percent. But what is the left uncollected (88 billion ) is much more. Those who have done some research on the tax system in Kenya will tell you this is what is happening in Kenya and KRA will not entertain anybody saying the uncolleted tax is more. Out of the 10 billion collected for instance, 6 billion is wasted in non-productive uses while project funds are returned to the ministries at the end of the fiscal year because they are not used, when the projects are not completed.12/15/2005 12:02:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Kimani -

I agree with you entirely; guys go under when you delve deeper into issues.

Our tax regime perpetually baffles me on one score (the amounts collected notwithstanding): Just what have we done with what we've collected thus far to warrant our joy over the 4.3% growth rate?

I recall the President at one time happily harping how some Kshs. 180 billion we were collecting annually would be so much as to enable as do some essentials here and there.

Can we, honestly, justify the current levels of domestic and foreign debt as well as our levels of development given KRA's "returns" in recent times?

Can we also justify our continued reliance on "foreigners" for budgetary support each year?

Aren't we in a position - with all KRA's "billions" - to present a balanced budget here as Bill Clinton did in the US a few years ago?12/15/2005 12:32:00 am|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|@kimani
I agree with you. Most people here can't sustain substantive conversations. Tax collection is the biggest hidden fraud we have in this country; the issue is so sacred they'd silence you, if you dared. We all know how easy it is to surpass targets when they are too low. That's the game KRA plays. Any analyst would tell you they're busy skimming off some mega bucks, only that it's now concentrated in a few hands. More so, nobody asks how much of that increase is actually inflation.

@jesse
In the NARC manifesto, they targetted 230 billion and said that was enough to run all the programs they promised in 2002. Of course, we know what has happened instead. Regarding public debt, I read from the CBK that the domestic debt keeps growing. Isn't this a paradox? KRA surpassing its targets but the government keeps increasing its borrowing! Who's fooling who here? These people don't want Kenya to be self-reliant because donor money perfectly covers the looting and cushions its short-term effects. It's all a game!!12/15/2005 12:32:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|By the way, domestic debt doubled in the period between June and last month. What did the government do with this money when the KRA was collecting 200% of its targets?12/15/2005 12:32:00 am|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|@kimani
Simple. It financed the referendum goodies!12/15/2005 12:33:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|And it will help build the next war-chest, all else held constant (e.g another scam that "never was" - a.k.a Anglo Leasing). No variables here.12/15/2005 10:36:00 am|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Jesse, the good thing is that "war-chests" no longer play an important role in Kenya's elections beyond facilitating campaign logistics. The recent referendum put that to rest. In fact, I'd speculate that the flashier the campaign, the higher the likelihood that Kenyans will reject you. I think people can finally see through the theatrics of the money-bugs.12/15/2005 10:43:00 am|W|P|Anonymous jizafrik|W|P|Of Tax and budgetary support,

Of late i have been hearing that KRA has exceeded their targets in tax revenue collection. My question is how come i never here that donor funding has been reduced by the same amount amount?? we still clamour for the choking handout for 'development programms' which hardly ever seem to benefit those that need it.

I think the government should stop this borrowing and and kimani says concentrate on optimal tax collection because i believe tax evation is quite a big problem here and this money could be enough to support our budget, not to mention trim the civil service, cut government non development spending.12/15/2005 11:28:00 am|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|@jizazfrik
That explains why Kibaki is comfortable having 83 ministers. Tax poor Kenyans to the bone then lavish it on insatiable cronies. That's redistribution economics, Kenya style!!12/15/2005 01:18:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|There are those who have rationalized that such "trickle-down" economics is proper; that the guy is truly Keynesian and that Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations should have had Kenya for a case study (ha!)!12/15/2005 01:20:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|jizazfrik,

Now do you see why I find it hard to say all the good things about this govt? It is all not about the MoU, but that little trust that I am suppose to accord my govt even with my tax contributions. I honestly cannot trust this govt with my money. Instead of using it constructively, they use it for their own personal benefits. They cannot convince me for instance that they dont have the money to higher the 700 nurses they sacked last month. This is not political, but policy inconsistencies. Nobody seems to be in control as the overall manager. A PS in a Ministry can come up with a very ridiculous policy and the policy will be law because the CEO is not in control. The nurses sacking is a case for reflection here. Was universal access to health not one of Kibaki's promises in 2002? Did he not promise us a lean govt in 2002? What would you say is the govt priority here?, an expanded cabinet or provision of health? Can I blame this on the ODM? or any other rebels for that matter? I will not be honest to do that!!!!12/15/2005 01:29:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Uhhmn, I feel you on this Kimani. And no one could have put it any better than you already have.12/15/2005 03:56:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mugutha|W|P|Appreciative enquiry is something we all need to consider here ladies and gentlemen.

In as much as its worthwhile to be critical, let us not close our eyes to progress, however moderate, that has been made a number of quarters.

I start with the CDF. For the first time in the history of our country the woman and man at the village level has an opportunity to chart their course as concerns their taxes and how these are used by the government. If this isn't redistribution of wealth and empowerment of the common man, then what is?. It is a step in the right direction and although it may not be adequate to cater for the myriad problems that face our people, it is a positive step nonetheless.

Secondly, the increase in tax collection is as a result of tightening loopholes that had been used earlier to evade taxes and not an additional tax burden on the people.

Thirdly,we can't gainsay the fact that government borrowing has been carried out in a disciplined manner as to avoid crowding out the private sector.This is exemplified by the rise in credit use and personal borrowing since the interest rates, the cost of funds, are low enough to support expansion given the foregoing.There is increased importation of capital goods as companies seek to push their production frontiers further to accomodate the increase in consumption and demand for not just consumer products but capital goods as well.

Economics 101 people.

Fourth, The Agricultural Finance Corporation has been revived and our farmers can access loans for farm inputs at reasonable rates.The government has time and again intervened to support producer prices for maize farmers while KCC is powering on with renewed vigour.The obvious beneficiary in all this is the man at the village level to say nothing of the eddy effect these efforts spawn given increased disposable incomes. How else do you create wealth?

While i agree that the government needs to address the issue of a ballooning civil service given the strain this will exert on the resources available, i caution patience.

Its an iterative process that will take concerted efforts and time for us to reverse the trend that had entrenched itself over the past couple of decades.

It has been just three years since this government took over and you all know that it takes no less than four years to gain a credible degree in any reputable college. Even corporations like GE take time to perfect their operational prowess and mind you these are institutions that have aligned their goals, mission and vision. How easy do we expect it to be for a nation with 32million citizens whose varied goals and needs have to be aligned to say nothing of the turnaround that's required.

Lets be practical for crying out loud!12/15/2005 05:26:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Pukks|W|P|Sometimes I look at our 'economist per excellence" Mwai Kibaki and wonder why someone would sack health workers - nurses and then employ fuel guzzling Ministers. Ministers who dont attend parliament. ministers who are solely employed to reply in a very disgusting manner members of the oppostion. They sit and wait for a member of the opposition to say something and then they descend on him with venom and hate. This in turn increases hatred in people. For some of us - it will be very difficult again to elect someone from Central Province. Never again.12/15/2005 05:28:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous MwanaKenya|W|P|Pukks, What does Central Province got to do with President Kibaki? Why don't you use this forum constructively? Why do you show contempt to a whole community cos of an individual? Please shun tribalism for it is evil and you are no different from the individuals you condemn.12/15/2005 05:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|mugutha,
I want to quickly summerise what you call development above to shed some light for you.

On the CDF, I agree with you but only partially. The management of the CDF is a whole mess. Good intentions, no policy to manage it and hence its abuse. I was in Nairobi in June involved in the last NEPAD provincial forums as a technical expert and the view of the people on the CDF is not what you may think. The management committees are biased and relations to the MPS, awarding of contracts for the CDF projects is riddled with corruption and accounting for the funds is not there and the chosing of the projects is not participatory. The patrons who are the MPs control everything. Most of this money is not helping the intended recipients. The projects are decided on by the MPs' cronies and relatives. It is one thing to create the CDFs, but another to provide guidelines on how they should be run and be efficient. But still the CDF is not a new thing. Remember there was the Distric Rural Development Fund which was scrapped and substututed with the CDF? The money from the DRDF transferred to the CDF kitty with a few increaments.

Secondly, the increase in tax collection. Your arguments are true, but can you now translate this increased money into welfare. How has it helped the ordinary man? Dont tell me Free primary education because I know where the FPE money is coming from! Remember all duty free money for lectures cars was removed, funding of public universitues reduced, (No wonder public universities are experiencing their current problems)And why is govt's domestic debt rising that fast and tax collections have increased?

On your third point. I see you have some economics 101, this makes the debate lively. True that credit expanded in the early parts of 2003.This was the only time the govt reduced its domestic borrowing to a record low in years. The result was the banking sector had excess liquidity and hence had no choice but to expand their credit to the private sector.The reason for this was that the government's demand for finance from the banks reduced and hence the treasury bill rates were very low. It became more attrative for the banks to invest more on giving loans and mortgages to the public than investing on treasury bills. But did you hear this noise when the the people who took the credit started crying that the intrest repayments were becoming very dear? Why? The government resorted to its bad habit of borrowing excessively from the domestic market. In short private credit expansion was only short lived. At the moment the lending rates are very high because the banks are investing most of their loanable funds in the treasury bill rates (Theory of Supply and demand of loanable funds). The government must therefore reduce domestic borrowing to change the trend.

On your fourth point, I agree that Kirwa is doing great in the Agriculture Ministry, I appreciate what the government has done to intervene in cushioning the producer prices by price floors, but to intimate that these efforts spawn given increased disposable incomes is not right. I dont see the connection of this with either a change in gross income or on taxes to impact on disposable income.


As much as I agree that we dont expect all reforms within one year, I should remind you that it only takes a day to appoint 83 Ministers and the same day to sack more than 1000 nurses. It only takes a day to reduce government borrowing and monitor ministers extravagant expenditures to release resources to balance the budget deficits. It only takes a day to be serious on corruption. It only takes a day to erradicate tribalism in governance and much more. If we have 1001 days, we should transform 1001 things not just a few!!!12/15/2005 05:48:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jizafrik|W|P|Pukks i am also disgusted by your tribalistic comments. Freedom of expression is not freedom of punitive thinking! That is such retrogressive thinking that there out to be laws against people and thoughts like you!12/15/2005 06:07:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Kimani, that's well-articulated!

@mugutha, Economics 101 can be very misleading, especially once you get into Economics 401 and above. I'd be cautious with casual interpretation.

"The trouble isn't what you know, but what you know that ain't so!"12/15/2005 07:37:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jizafrik|W|P|--> Kimani

I must admit that i have i have learnt lots of economics from you ( more than economics 101) and i have read your last comment.

I just need one point clarified. Is it that the economic gains that are seen i.e. what i 've been told as our economy has grown by 4% and that they are expecting further growth, couldj ust be a facade and that my life has not "really" improved? Or is it that we are too busy rejoicing over small gains when we still have lots of unutilised potential??12/15/2005 07:40:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|@jizazfrik

Let me try clarifying your mind further. Prior to 2002, we had about 5 years of economic growth below 2%. In fact, the aggregate growth between 2000 and 2002 was ZERO. Our average population growth rate is about 3% p.a., so we actually regressed by -10%. Fair enough, Kibaki prides at having achieved about 6.5% growth in total, 12% at the end of this year. But our population has grown by 9% in the same period, which means we only have 3% economic expansion (1% p.a.). Now, if we add the -10% we inherited, we're richer by -7% since 1999. It could be worse if you count back. In short, we're recovering, not growing!! Even at a sustained 5% growth, we need 4 more years to return to the 1999 levels before we begin talking growth.12/15/2005 11:36:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mugutha|W|P|Kimani
I appreciate your enlightening feedback and well articulated counter points. We need to steer this forum to such insightful discourse and i thank you for it.

The gist of my submission is, that we are at least starting to amble along the right path and much as we haven't started walking yet, we need to take stock of where we have been as we move on to the next stage.

There is no doubt that alot needs to be corrected,sound structures, policies, performance metrics etal. We can only resolve these by soberly dissecting the issues, dealing with brutal facts, consolidating the gains and identifying solutions to redress the problems we have to tackle. I am reminded of the TQM process of PDCA (plan, do , check, act) or the six sigma DMAIC(define, measure,analyze, improve, control) and the iterative process involved therein which would be ideal for the issues that we are currently facing. The thing to note is that process improvements are incremental in nature and not revolutionary.

Now, turning my sights to the issue of disposable incomes for our farmers, my take on the economics involved is such:
1. Given the assurance the farmer has to atleast recoup his/her initial cost outlay(farm inputs, labor etc)through the aforementioned price floors, he/she will plough more acreage thereby increasing the total output and directly bumping up his gross income, ceteris paribus.
2.The AFC in conjunction with Kenya seed company can harness resources to avail quality seeds to the farmer, which will improve his/her output per acre, increase his overall output and gross income, ceteris paribus.
3. Assuming that the farmer took a loan from AFC at a concessionary and sustainable rate and further assuming that the nominal income tax rate stays the same, don't you think, then, that this farmer will enjoy a higher disposable income?
Granted, i have over simplified the matter just for the sake of illustration and i am aware that inflationary variables may negatively impact the scenario.

Over to you my brother.12/15/2005 11:38:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Mugutha

Oversimplification is the folly of economics! Although you appreciate its limitations, you still proceed to use it as an analytical framework. A casual glance at your hypotheses leaves a lot of "what ifs", especially considering the biological nature of agriculture and the non-linear decision models of farm households. The impact of the AFC on the agricultural sector, as is, is neglible.

Regarding process improvements, as Jesse mentioned in another post, it can be revolutionary. There are processes that don't need a year to overhaul, you can do it in a day. It'd be useful to categorize the processes as short-, medium-, and long-term so that we can target them more effectively. Lumping all of them and adopting blanket gradualism is the cause of reform inertia.12/16/2005 12:08:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Mugutha|W|P|Jikz,
I stand corrected.

However, bear in mind that unless you simplify the process with a view to minimizing ambiguity you stand the a real chance of not attaining you the goal you set out to achieve.12/16/2005 12:10:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Kimanimungai|W|P|Mugutha,jikz, jizafrik,

I thank all of you for the comments. But you now realize that if you have a deeper understanding of the economics in the governement operations, you cannot have any love for this governement left. But I reserve that for now. On the ceteris peribus of Economics and its applicability on the simplification of the models for policy making, I would think they dont belong to this generation of open market economies. But for a simple understanding of the basics, it does not hurt. Infact the current model used for policy simulations at the Treasury - The KIPPRA - Treasury Macro Model (KTMM) and the former model The Chakrabati Model are all general equilibrium models. Using partial analysis to get economic solutions has long been overtaken by the intertemporal nature of economic variables. However Mugutha, I dont have a position on your anlysis on the farmers production increament as they access more credit basically because the other day I say in the nation newspaers a picture of maize farmers demonstrating because maize was selling at 600/= and fertilizers selling at 1800/= per bag. I dont know what Kirwa is doing about the high input prices if any. The following day however, the govt released more money to be used by the KCBP to increase the maize prices to 1000 per bag, but this was still not enough to compensate for the high fertilizer prices. Ofcourse I am not concluding that one bag of fertilizer is used to produce one bag of maize. The high input prices could be a form of implicit tax on the farmers so that the govt is taxing these fertilizer imports very highly to get money to give the farmers as credit through the AFC!!! See the problem? In this case the farmers would be money illussioned to think the governent is subsidizing their production through increased access to cheaper credit when they pay for this credit in the form of higher fertilizer prices. Disposable income could be negative by the way in this case. I am starting to think this may be the case, if not, why then is the government reluctant to reduce import taxes on farm inputs including fertilizers????12/16/2005 12:15:00 am|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Kimani -

Your very last question (last sentence) above is the one thing I've never quite grasped with the government of the day.

All in all, the farmers are happy, not realizing that the government gives with one hand only to take with the other.

And it has several ways to accomplish that, often without much fuss.12/16/2005 12:22:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mugutha|W|P|Below is an excerpt attributed to Amos Kimunya on the subject we have been discussing.

"The MoU was an ‘if thing’, which was dependent on the relevant law being enacted. Raila and his group have made this impossible by continuously opposing any move to enact a new constitution.

He said President Kibaki had honoured the MoU to the extent the current constitution allowed him to do so, by forming a government that included all coalition partners.

"He (Raila) thought he could take power through back door via the referendum, but he failed. Now he is asking for a snap election and if that fails he will try a vote of no confidence," Kimunya said.

What strikes me is the context referred to in the words " dependent upon the relevant law being enacted" above. If this were true,( how i wish these guys would come clean and promulgate this document to sate my curiosity) then all the noise we have been treated to since NARC came to power has all been selfserving?

I hate to reopen this matter for further reflection seeing as it is that we have flogged this horse dead , but my contention still lingers. FACTS. YOU CAN'T ARGUE WITH COLD BRUTAL FACTS.
I am yet to reconcile the positions we have taken regarding this matter in the absence of the facts.
Is it any wonder that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again given our proclivity for taking action without considering the salient facts?
This has a familiar ring to it given the just concluded plebiscite?? Is there a need to re-evaluate our decision making process and maybe go back to the basics? Questions, questions and more questions folks....
How can we take positions and pass judgement without the benefit of data? Somebody indulge me on this one. Please.12/16/2005 12:24:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|The MoU-dollar question would be: What was Amos Kimunya in 2002, apart from being a manager at Muthaiga Golf Club? Was he even close to the negotiating table? Kimunya likes yapping, I guess that's what specializing in "counting" does to you!!12/16/2005 12:25:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Mugutha|W|P|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

@jikz
Granted. However do his sentiments merit reflection?
I guess the crux of the matter is that you and i and a majority of Kenyans have been denied the nitty gritty facts pertaining to this document while our resources and time is wasted in the name of same.
Don't we have a right to know what were the contents of this MOU?
The only way we can form informed opinions on this issue is if we arm ourselves with the salient facts.
Otherwise, and i say this tongue in cheek, we remain rumour mongers and speculators at best.
This is no way to treat intelligent people that make the majority of Kenyans.
I rest my case.12/16/2005 12:27:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|mugutha, you need not worry; the MoU died in 2003. I was in Kenya in 2002/3 so I know the contents of the MoU, but let's not belabor the point, since we aren't politicians. I rest my case.12/16/2005 12:28:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Patriot|W|P|mugutha,jizazfrik,jiks,jimanimungai

i applaud you brothers greatly on your discussion.very enlightening. it has opened views to economics that my febble mind could not grasp. i just want to correct the "disappearing story". we dont dissappear, we just have nothing to contribute to things like economics. i for one have no idea about economics 101,401, 316 and 932, if it was anything to do with aircrafts or the good book( Bible) then am your man but from you guys i have learned part of it and will look for 101 to widen my views. and thats what we ask for in this forum great minds and ideas that will help open up for those that dont know. for sure i can now see the brain drain proffesor is talking about. and i voted for narc in 2002.12/16/2005 12:29:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|@patriot
Thanks for your kind words! We didn't mean to plunge too deep into economic jargon, like we did; it makes us no different from Kibs talking to my peasant babu about GDP growth.

Now that you mentioned aircrafts, we would appreciate your input. We have tough questions about transport, including the airline industry. How could we make Kenya a serious regional hub, not only for air transport but also for aircraft engineering and maintenance? We already have top-notch aircraft handling specialists, is this something we could nurture into a vibrant industry?3/06/2007 08:19:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|boyfriend build every every girl guy handbook one one practical want want who who3/06/2007 08:21:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|http://www.adquity.com

Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

http://www.adquity.com12/12/2005 08:47:00 pm|W|P|Kenyananalyst|W|P|
Raila is back in town...has again dared the President to hang up his boots...and suddenly - I hope I'll be proved wrong - bare-knuckled spin-doctors and McCarthyist politicians are "whispering" that national cohesion and development is suffering coz he's around, the new cabinet notwithstanding; propaganda and deceit is in vogue to incite the populace against the government by law established. My suggestion: This one time, if indeed this one man is our problem, afikishwe mahakamani. That's a legal drama I would pay anything to watch. Mgala muue na haki umpe. Anyone out there remember Shaaban Bin Roberts' KUSADIKIKA?

|W|P|113440963064460876|W|P|Our whipping boy is back...|W|P|jesse.masai@gmail.com12/12/2005 11:52:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous jikz|W|P|Haha! Jesse, yes, I did KUSADIKIKA. I'm impressed you still remember them misemos!!12/12/2005 11:53:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|Glad there's some good company on the OPF forum. Shaaban Bib Roberts said something about Karama (the protagonist) that has stuck with me to this day: Alikuwa na bongo la hekima, moyo wa ushujaa na ulimi wa nasaha. I sometimes feel we've created conditions for "our whipping boy" to become Karama and - interestingly - our President to become the PM in Shaaban's book that wages political war on Karama. Anyways, I hope my musings aren't so far-fetched (they say literature is the mirror of society).12/13/2005 08:01:00 pm|W|P|Blogger Rayolla|W|P|Jesse I have nothign further to add the "let's BLAME RAILA for all our problems" is pretty Back in town. even just calling a simple election is Raila's problem.12/13/2005 08:38:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|How many lifes will this same guy by the name Omolo Raila will continue leading to the grave. In a span of twenty years we have lost so many people who have been fueled and catalyzed by Hon Raila.12/13/2005 10:13:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Xylem|W|P|Shaaban Robert was an enigma and the name said it all. Did you know that 'Shaaban Robert' was only a pseudonym and not his real name?12/13/2005 10:14:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Jesse|W|P|No, sikujua - Thanks for filling me in on that. For all his worth, I'm yet to c a similar thing in the Kenyan context especially in being able to:

1. Challenge of existing political assumptions in our country / society.

2. Developing sound alternatives to our problems.

3. Charaterization of the same in good moral and political paradigms.

I'm not talking about Ngugi wa Thiong'o or Kwani here.12/21/2005 04:14:00 pm|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|Now new boys have been hired with express instructions to contain Agwambo. I can bet with my last Penny, we have not seen the last of Raila Yet.
With the likes of Ndile doing the Donkey work (protecting the throne), you do not need to wait too long. It will surely come...2007......Dec....... too far12/21/2005 04:35:00 pm|W|P|Blogger simur|W|P|Jesse,Am new here but I know a political "tsunami" is coming sooner12/12/2005 04:28:00 pm|W|P|Kenyananalyst|W|P|
' The Sudanese government's systematic attacks on civilians in Darfur have been accompanied by a policy of impunity for all those responsible for the crimes. Senior Sudanese officials, including President Omar El Bashir must be held accountable for the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. '
Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch
Also Available in arabic french
Related Material Sudan: A Shameful Place for an African Summit Press Release, November 17, 2005 Photo Gallery Graphic, December 12, 2005 Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur Report, December 12, 2005
The 85-page report, "Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur," documents the role of more than a dozen named civilian and military officials in the use and coordination of "Janjaweed" militias and the Sudanese armed forces to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur since mid-2003. (See below for a partial list of individuals who should be investigated by the International Criminal Court.) "The Sudanese government's systematic attacks on civilians in Darfur have been accompanied by a policy of impunity for all those responsible for the crimes," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Senior Sudanese officials, including President Omar El Bashir—must be held accountable for the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur." The Human Rights Watch report describes the process, replicated across Darfur, in which militia leaders collaborated with regional administrators and military commanders, usually meeting to co-ordinate strategy prior to attacks on rural villages and towns. By early 2004 it was clear, even to some soldiers, that civilians were the targets. One former soldier told Human Rights Watch that when he protested to his commander, he was told, "You have to attack the civilians." Human Rights Watch said that the looting and destruction of villages was not just condoned by government officials, it was methodically organized, with troops and militia members permitted to take land, livestock and other civilian property. Senior Sudanese officials played a direct role coordinating the offensives- and particularly the aerial bombing campaign - from Khartoum. The report also examines the Sudanese government's dismal record on accountability. Despite several Sudanese government initiatives, including a national inquiry into the crimes, numerous committees established to investigate rape and other crimes, and a national tribunal to try the perpetrators of crimes in Darfur, not a single mid- or high-level civilian official, military commander or militia leader has been suspended from duty, investigated or prosecuted. "The Sudanese government feigns compliance with international demands by setting up committees that produce absolutely no results," said Takirambudde. "The ICC should investigate key actors at every level, including regional officials." The report is based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts, more than ten investigations by Human Rights Watch in Chad and Darfur, and Sudanese government documents, as well as secondary sources. It reveals the strategy and network behind the Sudanese government's massive counter-insurgency campaign against rebel groups in Darfur in early 2003, when government forces and government-backed militias known as the "Janjaweed" killed, raped and tortured tens of thousands of people, mainly those sharing the ethnicity of the rebel movements, forcibly displaced more than two million people, and looted or destroyed all their property. The U.N. Security Council will receive three reports on Darfur in December: the final report and recommendations of the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee; the monthly report of the U.N. Secretary General; and the ICC Prosecutor's briefing. In March the Council referred Darfur to the ICC and the Prosecutor opened an investigation on June 6. Although the U.N. Security Council established a mechanism in March 2005 to enforce a partial arms embargo and to impose sanctions on individuals committing abuses, not a single person has yet been sanctioned by the U.N. "Nine months ago the Security Council set up a Sanctions Committee to penalize individuals responsible for abuses in Darfur but it has yet to act against anyone," said Takirambudde. "If the Security Council wants to see real progress in Darfur it must act now." Human Rights Watch also called on the Security Council to provide more support to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which has deployed approximately 7,000 personnel in Darfur, and for AMIS to actively protect civilians in Darfur. The African Union is not only providing troops in Darfur; it is negotiating a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel groups. Despite the Sudanese government's involvement in ongoing crimes in Darfur, the A.U. is allowing Sudan to host January's A.U. summit in the capital, Khartoum. A new A.U. president is also due to be elected, and there are indications that President Bashir might obtain the post. "Having the A.U. summit in Khartoum is bad enough, but giving President Bashir - who should be investigated for war crimes - the A.U. chair would be a travesty," said Takirambudde. Partial list of individuals who should be investigated by the ICC: This list is not a comprehensive list of all individuals potentially liable for crimes in Darfur. It is presented as a summary of those individuals named in this report and recommended for investigation by the ICC, but additional individuals not named in this report should also be investigated and prosecuted for crimes in Darfur. National Officials: • President Omar El Bashir • Second Vice-President Ali Osman Taha: Former First Vice-President until late 2005. • Maj. Gen. Abduraheem M. Hussein: Former minister of the interior and representative of the president for Darfur, 2003-2004; now minister of defense. • Maj. Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih: Former minister of defense; now minister for presidential affairs. • Abbas Arabi: Chief of Staff of the Sudanese armed forces. • Gen. Salah Abdallah Ghosh: Director of Security and Military Intelligence. • Ahmed Haroun: Former state minister of the interior, responsible for Darfur portfolio within the Ministry of the Interior; now state minister for humanitarian affairs. Current or former regional officials: The individuals listed below are included because, as described in the text of the report, they are or were the senior government officials in their districts or states when crimes amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed by government forces. • Al Tayeb Abdullah Torshain: Former commissioner of Mukjar, 2003-2005. • Al Haj Attar Al Mannan Idris: Governor of South Darfur, mid-2004 to present. • Ja'afar Abdel el Hakh: Commissioner of Garsila until April 2004; now governor of West Darfur. • Maj. Gen. Adam Hamid Musa: Governor of South Darfur, 2003 to mid-2004. • Maj. Gen. Abdallah Safi el Nour: Retired air force pilot and former governor of North Darfur, 2000-2001; and national minister in Khartoum 2003-2004. Allegedly involved in directing air operations and in the supply of arms to the militias. Military commanders: • Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Al Hajir Mohammed: Commander of the 16th Infantry Division forces used in the attacks on the villages of Marla, Ishma, and Labado in December 2004. • Maj. Gen. Al Hadi Adam Hamid: Chief of "border guards"; key liaison to Janjaweed militias. • Lt. Col. Abdul Wahid Said Ali Said: Commander of the 2nd Border Intelligence Brigade based in Misteriya, which supports military operations in and around Kebkabiya. • Maj. Gaddal Fadlallah: Commander in Kutum whose forces are responsible for numerous attacks on civilians, destruction of villages, and looting of civilian property. Militia leaders: • "Abu Ashreen": This is the nickname or nom de guerre of Abdullah Saleh Sabeel, a forty-eight-year-old Beni Hussein from Sareef, in the Kebkabiya area. He also occasionally uses the name Abdullah Dagash. He is related to Nazir El Ghadi Adam Hamid, the brother of Maj. Gen. Al Hadi Adam Hamid. He has the rank of either corporal (arif) or sergeant (raqib), and leads a militia based in Kebkabiya. • Sheikh Musa Hilal: Numerous eyewitnesses place Hilal at the scene of different attacks in North Darfur in which serious crimes, including rape, murder and torture, were committed. Numerous eyewitnesses, including former members of the Sudanese armed forces, also identify Hilal as a key militia recruiter and coordinator. • "Ali Kosheib": This is the nickname or nom de guerre of Ali Mohammed Ali. He was one of the key leaders of the attacks on villages around Mukjar, Bindisi, and Garsila in 2003-2004. Several eyewitnesses recognized him as one of the commanders of the operations in March 2004, in which several hundred men were executed around Deleig, Garsila, and Mukjar. • Mustapha Abu Nuba: Tribal leader of a Riziegat sub-clan in South Darfur. Allegedly responsible for numerous attacks on villages in South Darfur, including the attack on and looting of Kaila. • Nazir Al Tijani Abdel Kadir: Tribal leader of the Misseriya militia based in Niteiga, South Darfur. Allegedly responsible for the attack on the village of Khor Abeche on April 7, 2005, and other attacks in the area. • Mohammed Hamdan: Riziegat militia leader allegedly involved in Adwah attack and looting in November 2004.


|W|P|113439409453892573|W|P|U.N.: Put Sudan's Top Leaders on Sanctions List|W|P|jesse.masai@gmail.com12/12/2005 04:21:00 pm|W|P|Kenyananalyst|W|P|
1. Introduction: basic human rights denied
Amnesty International has received disturbing reports of increasing violations in Eritrea of the right to freedom of religion, belief and conscience. While Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subjected to severe persecution for the past decade on account of their religious beliefs, this report focuses on widespread detentions and other human rights violations of members of evangelical Christian churches in the past three years, intensifying in 2005. Since 2002, their churches have been shut down by the government and many members have been tortured in an attempt to force them to stop worshipping and to thereby abandon their faith. Members of new groups within the officially-permitted Orthodox Church and Islam have also been detained on account of their beliefs.

At least 26 pastors and priests, and over 1,750 church members, including children and 175 women, and some dozens of Muslims, are detained because of their religious beliefs. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience.

Amnesty International is appealing to President Issayas Afewerki and the Eritrean government to end the government’s policy of repression of religious belief and freedom of conscience, opinion and expression in general. Amnesty International calls on the international community to strengthen efforts to obtain and secure protection of religious freedom and basic human rights in Eritrea.

Human rights in Eritrea are systematically violated by President Issayas Afewerki’s government, which has been in power since the country’s independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year liberation war.(1) The detentions of individuals solely because of their religious beliefs is part of the general denial of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Eritrea, as well as other grave violations of basic human rights. These violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion are contrary to international law, as well as the Constitution of Eritrea (1997).

Torture has routinely been used as a punishment for critics of the government and members of minority faiths, as well as for offences committed by military conscripts. Arbitrary incommunicado detention “"without charge or trial”" is widespread and long-lasting - several prisoners of conscience have been held thus for over a decade - with many detainees are held in secret and their whereabouts not known.

Violations of the right to freedom of religion in Eritrea are indirectly linked to a far-reaching pattern of violations of the right to expression of non-violent political opinions and the right to association. Religious prisoners of conscience who have no connection with political opposition groups are subjected to the same torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, and the same arbitrary and incommunicado detention, as prisoners of conscience detained on account of their political opinions.

Any expression or suspicion of criticism of the government - impossible to express openly and publicly - is met with threats, arbitrary arrest and sometimes “"disappearances”", and indefinite, incommunicado detention, without any judicial oversight, and with a high risk of torture. The only permitted political party is President Issayas Afewerki’s People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), formerly the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which won the independence war and formed the new government.

The rule of law in Eritrea is severely undermined by the lack of an effective or independent judiciary. Lawyers do not dare to challenge the government in the courts. A Special Court sentences people for corruption without the right to defence or appeal. A secret security committee sentences some political and religious prisoners to prison terms without defence representation or appeal. Organizations who might potentially monitor human rights and press for remedies for human rights violations do not and cannot function inside Eritrea on account of the comprehensive denial of the right to freedom of expression of opinion. Human rights violations by members of the security forces are committed with total impunity.(2)

Non-government organisations (NGOs) are heavily restricted. International human rights organisations such as Amnesty International are denied entry. International humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are restricted in their activities and travel, and the official US development agency, US-Agency for International Development, a major bilateral donor, was ordered to leave Eritrea in November 2005 without explanation. Under a new Proclamation in 2005(3), international NGOs, including faith-based agencies - of which only 14 are currently registered(4) - are limited to relief and rehabilitation activities and not permitted to work independently of the government with local communities.

Two thirds of the population are dependent on international emergency food aid since the 1998-2000 armed conflict with Ethiopia. This includes returnee refugees from Sudan and 70,000 internally displaced persons (IDP)(5)camp. Many donor governments have withdrawn development assistance on account of the government’s failures in democratization and human rights.

Fears of new armed conflict with Ethiopia
There are rising fears in the international community (as of late November 2005) that armed conflict may break out again between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The UN Security Council has called on Ethiopia to implement its acceptance in principle of the International Boundary Commission’s judgment regarding the border areas, particularly its allocation to Eritrea of Badme town, the flashpoint of war in 1998. Ethiopia refuses to allow border demarcation to proceed, instead calling for negotiation over certain issues. Eritrea demands UN implementation of the border judgment and UN action against Ethiopia to enforce it.

In October 2005, following earlier restrictions it had imposed on the 2,800 - personnel multi-national UN Military Mission for Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), which administers a “"Temporary Security Zone”" buffer-zone along the 1,000 km border with Ethiopia, Eritrea banned UN helicopter flights to the UN monitoring posts and imposed other restrictions which severely reduced the mission’s ability to fulfil its mandate. Both sides have re-armed since 2000 and have recently deployed troops near the border. On 23 November, UN Security Council resolution 1640 demanded that Eritrea should reserve the ban on helicopter flights and other restrictions imposed on the movement of the UNMEE force. It called on both parties to return to previous levels of military deployment within 30 days, to prevent aggravation of the situation. It demanded that Ethiopia allow border demarcation to start immediately within precondition.

Amnesty International, a non-political and impartial human rights organization working on human rights in all countries of the world, takes no position on the political issues of the border dispute. The organization is concerned that renewed armed conflict could lead to a repeat of grave violations of the Geneva Conventions (war crimes) such as were committed by both sides against prisoners of war and civilians, as well as violations of international human rights law in the 1998-2000 conflict. Furthermore, major humanitarian assistance by the international community might be needed to respond to emergency situations arising from the conflict in terms of destruction of livelihoods, internal displacement of people and out-flow of refugees to neighbouring and other countries.

Amnesty International believes that perceived threats to the security of the country and its borders should not be used by the Government of Eritrea as a pretext for committing human rights violations or as a justification for delaying action to protect human rights in the country.

2. Religions in Eritrea – background to arrests
Eritrea has a highly religious population, with some 98% of its 3.7 million people belonging to a long-established branch of a major world religion. Most Eritreans actively practice their faith, with only a small proportion being merely nominal members of their faith, and even fewer describing themselves as being of no faith at all. The Orthodox Church and Islam have been rooted in the region since the fourth and seventh centuries respectively. These two religions are practised by some 90% of the population, although there are no reliable statistics on which is the larger group. For historical reasons and due to its central position in the former Ethiopian Empire, the Orthodox Church is socially predominant.

Of the other Christian denominations, 5% of the population are Roman Catholics. About 2% are Protestants, of whom about half belong to a Lutheran church, and about half to smaller religious movements, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and at least 36 evangelical and pentecostal churches. There are a few members of the Baha'i, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist religions in the larger urban centres. Traditional religious practices continue among some members of Eritrea's nine ethnic groups (or “"nationalities”") in remoter areas. The central highlands and the majority Tigrinya ethnic group, are predominantly Orthodox, while the lowlands are predominantly Muslim, although most towns and rural areas contain places of worship and members of both of these religions.

All religions in Eritrea are nationally - organized faiths. Some are affiliated to international bodies. The four main “"officially recognized”" religions are:
The Eritrean Orthodox Church, which separated after independence from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, part of the worldwide Coptic Orthodox Church of the eastern rite, and a member of the World Council of Churches.
Islam of the Sunni rite, represented by the Muslim Council of Eritrea with mosques throughout the country and predominant in the less developed eastern and western lowlands.
The Eritrean Catholic Church, part of the worldwide Roman Catholic movement.
The Evangelical Church of Eritrea (also known as the Lutheran Church, and before independence linked to the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church), part of the Lutheran World Federation and a member of the World Council of Churches.
Other religious groups, which are not officially recognized and are not allowed to worship openly, comprise the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Baha’i religion, and an increasing diversity of evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic or “"born again”" Protestant churches, which are collectively called “"evangelicals”" (or sometimes “"pentes”", a pejorative term). These “"minority religious groups”"(6) had recognized places of worship in many towns until these were all closed down by the government in 2002.

Some of the Eritrean churches, as well as several international Christian and Muslim charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), run relief and humanitarian projects, although under government restrictions and subject to the May 2005 NGO Proclamation.

Inter-faith relations in Eritrea since independence have generally been good, with a history of tolerance between Christians and Muslims at both the national official level and in local communities. Christian and Muslim holidays are officially celebrated throughout Eritrea. There is, however, some social intolerance from members of the main churches toward the Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelical churches. Faith relations have also been affected by the political orientations of the Eritrean independence war, and the conflict between the Marxist - Leninist Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which formed the independence government, and the Muslim - oriented Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and other linked groups, to whom the EPLF offered no reconciliation at independence. The post-independence exile opposition coalition contains Islamist groups, and consequently the government has frequently suspected Muslims in Eritrea of links with Sudan-based armed opposition groups.

Under Ethiopian rule before independence, all religions were heavily restricted by the marxist-leninist Dergue military government. In Ethiopia in 1979 the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Abune Tewoflos, and the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, head of the Ethiopian Evangelical Mekane Yesus Church, “"disappeared”" from detention and were extra-judicially executed by government agents. Members of Dergue detained in 1991 are currently still on trial in Addis Ababa for these and other crimes. In the 1980s there was also a fierce campaign of religious persecution against religious groups with perceived “"imperialist”" connections, such as US-connected evangelical and Baptist churches and the Beta Israel religion, also known as Ethiopian Jews or Falashas, as well as discrimination against Muslims.

The EPLF, while it was fighting the Ethiopian government for Eritrean independence, tolerated the main faiths but not the minority religions, and religious persecution was reportedly sometimes an issue.

After independence, the EPLF government recognized the main four religions in state functions. Jehovah’s Witnesses became a target of active repression in 1994, as a result of their opposition to military service when it was introduced, and their non-participation in the 1993 independence referendum.

In 1995 restrictions were placed on all faiths by Proclamation Religious Organizations no.73/1995, which prohibited them from receiving international funds or engaging in political activities. Religious organizations were required to register with the authorities and provide details of their membership and assets, including foreign contacts and foreign funding. The four main religions were quickly registered but registration of minority religious groups was postponed. Since then, there has been a rapid growth of evangelical churches in Eritrea. This has often been a source of tension between them and the three main Christian churches, which were losing members to them. They had different doctrines, forms of worship and weddings, and “"fellowship”" for prayer and study. They often proselytized (sought converts) or expressed their faith in new, “"charismatic”" ways in public places, which attracted some disapproval from members of the main religious groups - Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran and Islam.

3. Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses
In October 1994, President Issayas Afewerki issued a directive which effectively denied all members of the Jehovah’s Witness religion their basic civil, political, economic and social rights. His order expelled them from government employment and accommodation; denied them access to government services, including schools and hospitals; and refused them the official identity cards, essential for daily life and administrative procedures, such as obtaining business permits, buying land and property, registering births, marriages and deaths for legal purposes, applying for internal travel permits, exit visas, passports, etcetera.(7)

On 24 September 1994 when conscription started, several Jehovah’s Witnesses who were called up for national service refused for reasons of their faith to undergo military training, although they did not reject non-military service.(8) Three were immediately arrested and are still detained in Sawa military base eleven years later – Paulos Eyassu, Negede Teklemariam and Isaac Mogos, now aged in their 30s.

In March 1995 the Minister of Internal Affairs confirmed and reiterated the ban: "The Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their right to citizenship because they refused to accept the Government of Eritrea and the laws." He accused them of not fighting in the liberation struggle, refusing to vote in the independence referendum and refusing to do national service. He said, "They will not have rights equivalent to any other citizens”". (9)

Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to refuse national military service and were routinely imprisoned. They also refused to renounce their faith or stop worshipping clandestinely in homes instead of their “"Kingdom Halls”", which were closed down by the authorities. After some years, the government appeared to be informally tolerating worship in members' homes, perhaps in an attempt to counter the unfavourable international publicity at this persecutory measure against a whole religious community. Nevertheless, the official position remained unchanged, and arrests continued. Many have been detained for refusing military service About 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses’ families have fled the country and sought asylum abroad; about 100 have been dismissed from government employment; and at least 36 families have been evicted from their homes.

There were more arrests after the 2002 ban on minority churches, when the Head of the President’s office, denying any religious persecution against them, said: "…. the problems were with the Jehovah’s Witnesses early on, because they said they didn't recognize the temporary government, they refused to vote yes or no or to take part in the political process here during the referendum. Their number is very small, they publicly said they don’t recognize the temporary government and the government’s response was, okay, if they do not recognize the temporary government, the government will also not recognize them…".(10)
At present, a total of 22 Jehovah’s Witnesses are in prison. Nine who are imprisoned in Sawa army camp – including Paulos Eyassu, Negede Teklemariam and Isaac Mogos, who have been held there incommunicado since 1994 - are conscientious objectors, although the government does not recognize this status. Ten Jehovah’s Witnesses are detained in Mai Serwa, Wia or Sawa army camps, most for attending a religious meeting or preaching. Three others are held in the civilian Sembel prison in Asmara, at least two of them after reportedly being secretly sentenced to prison terms through an extra-judicial procedure. Tekle Tesfay and Fesseha Gebrezadik, who are in Sembel prison, were reportedly given five and four year prison terms respectively in mid - 2005 for “"teaching religion”" – which is not an offence in the Penal Code. These sentences were imposed in absentia by a secret security committee, and the detainees were denied the right to present a legal defence or be legally represented, or the right to appeal to a court. Such a procedure violates international fair trial standards as well as Eritrea’s own Constitution and laws.

4. Crackdown on evangelical churches
In May 2002, two years after the armed conflict with Ethiopia ended, the government suddenly ordered all unregistered religions to close their places of worship and stop practising their faith until they were registered. They had to apply for registration with the Department for Religious Affairs in the Office of the President in accordance with the 1995 Proclamation on Religious Organizations, whose full implementation had been delayed. Full details were demanded of each organization’s doctrines, its history in the country, its leaders and members, assets and funds, services provided and publications. Four minority religious groups submitted the required details but have received no response. Others were reluctant to provide information which could expose their members to reprisals. The evangelical churches and Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to gather in private for "home-worshipping" and for some months the authorities appeared to tolerate this.

In early 2003 arrests of members of minority religious groups began, without any explanation, and have continued up to now, intensifying in 2005. Without having formally rejected any applications for registration, the government does not permit the practise of faith and worship by the minority religious groups. There is no law in the penal code criminalizing religious practice but justifications advanced by the authorities appear to derive from a general ban on unauthorized gatherings of more than five persons. Detention of church members has been arbitrary and unlawful, with no arrest warrants, charges or due judicial process or remedy, as are required by the Constitution and laws.

Amnesty International considers that all the men, women and children detained on account of their religious beliefs are prisoners of conscience, who have not used or advocated violence.

In the first few months of 2003, the authorities began a crackdown on the minority churches. Police and soldiers broke into religious services in private homes, and confiscated religious materials and musical instruments and cassettes. They arrested men, women and children, sometimes beating church members on the spot, detaining them without court warrants or charges. They held them first in police stations, later transferring them to security prisons or military detention centres, where detainees were tortured and detained incommunicado for indefinite periods. They were arrested without court warrants or charges. As in other actions by the authorities related to national service, any who were found to be evading national service were drafted into the army and usually subjected to military punishment too. Many who had completed national military service were re - conscripted.(11)

The detainees were usually pressured under torture or ill-treatment, with the threat of indefinite detention, to sign a document agreeing to certain conditions of release, such as not to attend religious meetings. Some were reportedly forced to recant their faith and agree to rejoin the Orthodox Church. Parents of children who were arrested were often made to deposit sureties (bonds) which would be forfeited if the conditions were broken. Most detainees refused to agree to the conditions of release, regarding them as a demand to deny and abandon their faith, since worship in fellowship is fundamental to their faith. When they refused to provide the promise or bond, the detainees were kept in prison for an indefinite period and often subjected to further ill-treatment.

The arrests increased in late 2003, and have continued up to the present time. Police singled out religious weddings in homes as occasions to round up believers.

None of these religious groups have attempted to function openly. Their premises remain closed and several buildings have been confiscated by the authorities. They practise their faith clandestinely (even in the army) and appear to be attracting more adherents, despite the risks.

The three officially recognized Christian churches were not subject to repression of this nature by the authorities and made no public criticisms of these measures against the minority religious groups. However, several Lutherans who shared worship with evangelical church members have been detained on occasion, and three Orthodox Church priests linked to the Medhane Alem movement are currently detained. The ordained leader of the Episcopal Church in Asmara, whose congregation includes foreign diplomats as well as a growing number of young Eritreans, was forced to depart home to India in October 2005 at 11 days’ notice, as the government refused to renew his work permit, and reportedly will no longer allow foreigners to conduct church services.

In August 2005 the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, was reported to have been stripped of his administrative functions by the government restricted in his movements and placed under virtual house arrest. He is reported to have favoured reform within the church, called for the release of the detained Orthodox priests, and opposed government interference in church affairs. The government denies that it has dismissed him. His special adviser, Yitbarek Berhe, is reported to have been detained at about the same time.

Amnesty International has learnt of certain religious prisoners being given secret prison sentences by security committees without any form of trial, defence representation or appeal, and being transferred to normal prisons to serve these prison terms.

The reason for the ongoing crackdown on minority religious groups was never given by the government but it appeared to be partly linked to government action against young people trying to avoid military conscription, although none of evangelical churches opposed military service. It also reflected the government’s general repression and intolerance of freedom of opinion and association. The government appeared to be punishing any kind of expression of dissent, religious or political. It brushed aside criticisms of breaching fundamental human rights standards.

5. Cases of arrests of religious prisoners of conscience, 2003-2005
The following are 44 incidents of religious persecution which have been documented over the past three years and are mainly the consequence of the government’s ban in 2002 on the minority religious groups. Those arrested were mostly from the evangelical churches but included Jehovah’s Witnesses, several Lutherans and some individuals of Catholic background, three priests and several members of the Orthodox Church, and dozens of Muslims.

The sources of information for these arrests, numbering over 1,750 men, women and children altogether during this period, include international religious organizations monitoring the arrests and Eritrean diaspora faith groups, as well as Amnesty International’s own sources.(12) Undoubtedly there have been many more cases not reported. Amnesty International has cross-checked and carefully scrutinized as far as possible for accuracy the details of the arrests described in this report. Most of those arrested, especially in 2005, are believed to be still detained, although details of detentions and releases are not disclosed by the government and are difficult to obtain, since prisoners are kept incommunicado and there is no access for independent monitoring organizations to police stations, and security or military prisons. Amnesty International has not been allowed entry to the country since 1999.

2003
▪ On 16 April, 164 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asmara were arrested at a private religious celebration. Some children were released the following day. The rest of the children and some non-Witnesses who were in attendance at the event were released after three days, 65 adults after eight days, and the remainder after about a month.
▪ In August, 57 school students, including several girls, were arrested during a compulsory work camp placement at Sawa army camp(13) on account of possessing bibles in the Tigrinya language, although this is not prohibited. Six were held in underground cells in Sawa and the others in metal shipping containers in sweltering conditions, given very little food and no medical care. They were allegedly tortured or ill-treated to abandon their faith and re-join the Orthodox Church. 51 were released after a few weeks but six suspected to be the leaders were detained longer.
▪ On 7 September, 12 Christians, including members of the Dubre Bethel Church in Asmara, were arrested at a prayer meeting in a private house and taken to the 5th police station. They were released uncharged after some days.
▪ On 23 November, eight members of the Kale Hiwot Church were arrested in Mendefera, including Pastor Iyob. They were denied food for some days, reportedly to pressure them to abandon their faith.
▪ On 14 December, a pastor and 10 members of the Faith of Christ Church in Adi-Kehey, 100 km south of Asmara, were arrested in a Lutheran church where they were worshipping. A Lutheran evangelist (preacher) was also detained but released two days later.

2004
▪ On 24 January, 38 Jehovah’s Witnesses and non-Witnesses, including several children, one aged 6 years, and two very elderly men, were detained while worshipping in a home in Asmara. Some of the children were kept in detention for three days. Gebrehiwet Tedla, aged 94, Gebreselassie Adhanom aged 78, and Sertsu Yilma, 55, were released after eight months. Six others were detained in Mai Serwa army camp in a shipping container, including two women, Rebka Gebretensaye and Akberet Gebremichael, and four men Asmerom Beraki, Tsegabirhan Berhe, Tekle Gebrehiwet and Yemane Tsegay.
▪ On 12 February, 56 members of the Hallelujah Church, including Pastor Mengist Teweldemedhin and several children, were arrested in Asmara. Some were taken to Adi Abeto prison, others to Mai Serwa or Sawa army camps, where they were reportedly tortured. Parents were forced to sign documents to obtain the release of their children. Pastor Mengist Teweldemedhin later escaped.
▪ On 23 February, ten members of the Mullu Wongel Church were detained in Asmara while worshipping in a home. The woman owning the home was released after paying a “"fine”" of US$37 equivalent for “"holding an illegal meeting”", although without being taken to court.
▪ In February, police arrested Ambakom Tsegezab, a Jehovah’s Witness, and took him to Sawa army camp, where he was reported to be held in chains.
▪ On 17-18 March, whole families of home - worshippers of the Rema Church were arrested in Asmara when they were caught praying and reading the bible. They were taken to Adi Abeto army prison and the 5th police station in Asmara. Some were released when they paid “"fines”" to police, although without any court process.
▪ On 18 March, 20 members of the Kale Hiwot Church in Assab were detained, reportedly as a consequence of the President of Eritrea’s speech on 5 March attacking the minority churches during the inauguration of the new Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.
▪ On 19 March, Yonas Haile, a gospel singer who had just released a video cassette entitled “"The Gospel, solution to man's problems”", was arrested in Asmara and taken to Adi Abeto army camp and then Sawa army camp.
▪ In April, several senior members of the Kale Hiwot Church were detained in Asmara.
▪ On 22 April, an Orthodox Church deacon and editor of a church newsletter, Teklemariam Merkazion, was arrested when he returned from a visit to Germany, and detained in Karchele security prison. He was released on 10 November 2004 left the country.
▪ On 13 May, Helen Berhane, aged 30, a well - known gospel singer of the Rema Church who had just released a cassette of gospel music, was arrested in Asmara. She is held in a metal shipping container in Mai Serwa army camp. She refuses to abandon her faith and gospel singing, despite promises of release if she does so.
▪ On 23 May, Pastor Haile Naizgi, chair of the Mullu Wongel Church, and Dr Kiflu Gebremeskel, chair of the Eritrean Evangelical Alliance and former chair of the Mullu Wongel Church, a US-educated former maths lecturer at Asmara University, were arrested in Asmara. They are detained in Karchele security prison. They are both reported to have been sentenced extra-judicially to five years’ imprisonment by a secret security committee.
▪ On 27 May, Pastor Tesfatsion Hagos of the Rema Church in Asmara was arrested on a visit to Massawa port and is detained in Karchele security prison. He is reported to have been sentenced extra-judicially to a five-year prison term.
▪ In June, police arrested six Jehovah’s Witnesses: Fesseha Gebrezadik and Yohannes Guish were arrested for preaching in public in Asmara; Tekle Kebede and another relative of a person who had escaped from Sawa army camp were arrested and taken to Mai Serwa army camp; and a full-time Minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hagos Woldemichael, was arrested while visiting them at the time of their arrest - he too was taken to Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 5 July, two women from the Mullu Wongel Church were arrested in Asmara - Meaza Araya, aged 34, her second arrest, and Elsa Ghirmay, aged 30. They were detained in Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ Also on 5 July, Dawit Mesgenna and Tesfa Araya, members of the Rema Church, were arrested and taken to “"Track B”" army prison in Asmara.
▪ On 25 July, police arrested scores of people at a church wedding ceremony in Senafe town, 136 km southeast of Asmara, including the bride’s 80-year-old father, Woldegabriel Gebremichael. 28 members of the Kale Hiwot and Mullu Wongel churches were detained in Senafe police station for some days, until they signed a document agreeing not to attend any evangelical wedding in future. The two wedding organisers - Teame Kibrom, aged in his 80s, and an evangelist named Michael - were detained longer.
▪ In November, three Orthodox Church priests, Reverend Dr Futsum Gebrenegus, Eritrea’s only psychiatrist, Reverend Dr Tekleab Mengisteab, a medical doctor and diabetic, and Reverend Gebremedhin Gebreghiorghis, a prominent theologian, who are leading members of the Medhane Alem bible study group, were arrested in Asmara and detained in Karchele security prison. They are reportedly currently held in Sembel civilian prison in Asmara, with prison sentences of five years each imposed by a secret administrative procedure.
▪ On 31 December, 60 members of the Rema Church, including 35 women and several children, were arrested in Asmara at a New Year’s Eve celebration at the home of Pastor Habteab Ogbamichael and his wife Letensae, who were also arrested, and taken to the 5th police station. They were transferred to Mai Serwa army camp. Most of the women and the children were released in the next two weeks but 13 of the group are reportedly still detained there.

2005
▪ On 9 January, 25 Christians of Roman Catholic background were arrested in Asmara at a wedding rehearsal. Most were released after a short period in the 1st police station but three are believed to be detained in Wia army camp.
▪ Also on 9 January, police in Barentu in western Eritrea arrested 115 evangelical church members attending a wedding, including Pastor Ogbamichael Teklehaimanot of the Kale Hiwot Church, Pastor Hagos Toomey of the Mullu Wongel Church, and several elderly people and children. 48 youths were conscripted into the army, while 67 others were taken to Sawa army camp. Pastor Ogbamichael Haimanot was finally released in October after reportedly becoming mentally ill as a result of ill-treatment, including being kept in solitary confinement, and being made to perform hard labour.
▪ Also on 9 January, five members of the Kale Hiwot Church were arrested in Asmara at a private prayer gathering and taken to Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 21 January, police arrested three leaders of the Mullu Wongel Church in Asmara - Pastors Kidane Gebremeskel, Abraham Belay and Fanuel Mehreteab - who are reportedly detained in Karchele security prison.
▪ On 30 January, police detained 45 members of the Mullu Wongel Church in Asmara in home prayer meetings. 16 were conscripted into the army, while the remainder were released some weeks later.
▪ On 3 February, Semere Zaid, a lecturer in agriculture at Asmara University, formerly a member of a new Orthodox Church group, and now a member of the Church of the Living God, was arrested in Asmara. He was released on 28 February and ordered to stop attending religious gatherings and to report regularly to the police.
▪ On 4 February, Pastor Issa Mekonnen and 13 members of the Kale Hiwot Church were arrested at a home in Adi-Tekelzan town, 30 km north of Asmara. They are reportedly held at Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 12 February, police arrested 15 women members of a Medhane Alem (Orthodox Church) bible study group in Keren. They were released a month later.
▪ On 16 February, police detained 17 members of the Rema Church at a home in Adikwala. Ten were released after two weeks but the other 17 are reportedly detained at Gelalo army camp.
▪ On 19 February, over 20 children aged between two and 18 years were arrested at a Medhane Alem (Orthodox Church) bible study class in Asmara. The youngest were released the same day, and the others were gradually released over the next few weeks. The five teachers, who work as instructors at Asmara University, are reportedly detained at Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ In February, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bemnet Fessahaye and Henok Gebru, were detained in Asmara; three other Jehovah’s Witnesses in detention were reported to have been moved to Wia army camp in February and March.
▪ On 13 March, 16 members of the Kale Hiwot church were arrested near Asmara for watching a church video at one of their homes. Two elderly women among them were released on payment of a police “"fine”" of US$12 equivalent, but without being taken to court.
▪ On 16 March, Pastor Kidane Weldu, aged 55, of the Mullu Wongel Church, and Demoze Afewerki, aged 67, chair of the Gideons (Bible) International branch in Eritrea and head of the inspection department of the Housing and Commercial Bank of Eritrea, were arrested in Asmara. Pastor Kidane Weldu is detained in Karchele security prison. The whereabouts of Demoze Afewerki are not known.
▪ March, Amanuel Abraham, a Jehovah’s Witness, was detained in Asmara.
▪ On 4 May, police arrested two Jehovah’s Witnesses in Asmara for preaching, Worede Kiros and Eyob Tekle, who are currently detained in Wia army camp.
▪ On 27 May, Tekle Tesfay, aged 71, a citizen of The Netherlands who returned to Eritrea in 1997, was arrested in Asmara for teaching religion to another Jehovah’s Witness, Fisseha Gebrezadik. Both are now held in Sembel civilian prison and are reported to have been extra-judicially sentenced to secret prison terms of five and fours years respectively; a third Jehovah’s Witness, arrested earlier, Yohannes Guish, is also held in Sembel prison.
▪ On 28 May, police raided a wedding party of the Meseret Kristos Church in Asmara and detained the bride and bridegroom and some 200 guests, including gospel singer Essey Stefanos, Pastor Gideon of the Meseret Kristos Church and an evangelist named Amanuel from the Kale Hiwot Church. The bridal couple and over half the guests were released the following month, leaving some 70 people detained in Mai Serwa army camp.
▪ On 6 July, Semere Zaid of the University of Asmara was re-arrested when he reported to a police station as a condition of his earlier release in February 2005. He was first detained in the Karchele security prison but is now reportedly held in Sembel civilian prison serving a secretly-imposed prison term of two years for unspecified offences.
▪ On 8 July, 18 students at Halhale College, part of the University of Asmara, were arrested immediately after sitting their final examinations, on account of attending various evangelical churches. Their current whereabouts in custody are not known.
▪ In late July, Yitbarek Berhe, a deacon of the Orthodox Church, deputy administrator of the church synod (council) and adviser to the Patriarch (see section 4 above), was reportedly arrested after being forced to resign from his post. His whereabouts in detention are not known.
▪ On 4 September, Mengisteab Tesfamariam and his bride Berekti Keshi Almaz, were arrested together with their wedding entourage (best man and bridesmaids) and wedding guests at a Hallelujah Church wedding celebration. Hallelujah Church leaders Aklilu Habteab and Kahsay Imbaye, Zerit Gebrenegusse, a Philadelphia Church evangelist, and six women were among 20 people arrested.
▪ On 30 September, dozens of members of evangelical churches were arrested at their homes, workplaces or in the streets in Asmara. They included Pastor Simon and Sirak Gebremichael of the Kale Hiwot Church and Akberet Negusse (f) of the Rema Church.
▪ On 3 October, police arrested all 20 staff of the Kale Hiwot Church’s development programme, which runs an orphanage, primary schools, nursery schools and emergency feeding projects. Five visitors were also arrested. Police searched the office and seized computers and documents. Some of those detained were released two and three weeks later, and the remainder were conditionally released on 8 November.
At present, at least 26 evangelical pastors and four Orthodox Church priests and deacons are reportedly detained, as well as over 1,750 church members, including several children and some 175 women, although figures are difficult to confirm due to the rapidly changing pattern of arrests and releases.

6. Detention of Muslims
Particularly in the first few years after independence in 1991, large numbers of Muslims in Eritrea were arbitrarily detained, and in some cases “"disappeared”" or were extra-judicially executed, on suspicion of being linked to armed Islamist or the mainly Muslim ELF opposition groups.

The EPLF government offered no reconciliation with rival ELF groups which remained in opposition to it but allowed individuals to return if they abandoned opposition. The government continues to suspect Muslims from the western areas bordering Sudan of having links with opposition groups still based in Sudan, which have received support from Sudan’s National Islamic Front government and the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood. The ELF groups are part of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance(14) (EDA, formerly the Eritrean National Alliance until early 2005), which includes Islamist groups and advocates armed opposition to the Eritrean government, although it is not known to have carried out military activities during 2005. The EDA draws support from Eritrean refugees in Sudan, some of whom have been there for 30 years and consider it would not be safe for them to return to Eritrea.

As a consequence of this intermittent armed conflict, the Eritrean security forces have conducted military operations in western Eritrea, particularly in the early and mid 1990s, and seem to have often suspected Muslims of supporting armed Islamist groups or other armed opposition groups. Reliable information has been difficult to obtain on human rights abuses allegedly committed by the Eritrean security forces against peaceful Muslim critics of the government.

On 5 December 1994 hundreds of young Muslim teachers were arrested in Keren and elsewhere when Eritrea broke off diplomatic relations with Sudan. Many had trained as Quranic, Arabic-language or ordinary subject teachers in Sudanese educational institutions. They were not brought to court, nor are they known to have been released. There have been unconfirmed reports that some of these detainees were extra-judicially executed in May 1997.

In September 2004, dozens of Muslim students belonging to new Islamic religious groups (including some known as “"Wahabis”") were arrested in Asmara and other towns. Many are reportedly still detained incommunicado and without charge.

7. National military service and religion
Under the national service regulations of 23 October 1995, national service of six months’ military training and 12 months’ development service (such as labour on construction projects) is compulsory for all Eritrean citizens aged between 18 and 40 years, male and female. In late 2004 the upper age limit for female conscription was reportedly reduced to 27 years. There are also military reserve duties between the ages of 40 and 50 for former EPLF veterans and former conscripts. National service has been made more military in nature and extended indefinitely as a result of the failure of the border demarcation process and corresponding fears of renewed armed conflict with Ethiopia.

There is no exemption for conscientious objectors, whether on account of a principle of religious faith or other conscientious belief or opinion. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse military service for reasons of their faith, but this is not recognised by the Eritrean government as a reason for exemption. Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been conscripted, such as the three men detained in 1994 in the first intake of conscripts, are detained indefinitely without any judicial process.

Religious practice by members of the four main faiths is permitted in the army, although with minimal provision for worship or for pastoral care in local churches and mosques. Members of the non-registered and banned minority religious groups are not allowed to practise their faith, meet together or worship, possess religious publications or receive pastoral care from a minister of their faith. Suspected evangelicals in the army are monitored closely, and arrested if caught worshipping or in possession of evangelical religious materials.

Exemptions from national service include provisions for the disabled, for mothers while they are breast-feeding, on medical grounds, and for a family to retain a young person to remain to help at home when all other siblings have been conscripted. In Muslim areas in the east, female recruitment is said to have ceased on account of substantial opposition on grounds of customary and religious beliefs.

Conscription is carried out by local authorities mainly through "round-ups" (giffa in the Tigrinya language) where police search houses, work-places and streets and roadblocks to check identity documents at roadblocks.

Young persons aged 17 are required to register for national service for the following year and are refused exit-permits to leave the country in order to prevent them evading conscription. A large number of young people have tried to avoid conscription by hiding or fleeing the country. There is also a high rate of defection from national service, despite the risks of being caught and severely punished. Members of banned religious groups who have been detained or who have been denied the right to practice their religion are among those who have fled the country.

On 4 November 2004, thousands of people of conscription age were arrested in Asmara and taken to Adi Abeto army prison. That night, a prison wall was apparently pushed over by some prisoners, and army guards opened fire, killing up to 28 prisoners and wounding many more. Surviving prisoners eligible for conscription were drafted into the army and others eventually released. In July and again in November 2005 in the Debub region in the south, parents and other relatives of individuals who had evaded conscription or fled the country were arrested and accused of complicity. They were only released if they deposited a bond of between 10,000 and 50,000 nakfas (US$660-US$3,000 equivalent) to produce the missing family member.

Militarization of education
National service is postponed for students, who must perform national service after their course. Graduation certificates are only presented on completion of national service. In addition, final year (11th grade) school students and all higher education students are required to do two to three months’ summer vacation work service under military control.(15) In 2003, an extra final school year (12th grade) was added for all children to be undertaken at Sawa military training centre under military authority and including military-type training. They are then selected for higher education or conscripted into the army. In 2003, the government stopped admitting undergraduate students to the University of Asmara, where students were reputed for dissent and opposition to national service or work-service, and allocated them to technical colleges instead.

In January 2004, the UNICEF representative in Eritrea was reported to have expressed concern that the militarization of education was a violation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which aims to promote the best interests of the child, because it resulted in the separation of children from their families and forced them into a military environment.

In these militarized educational structures, children and students who belong to the banned religious groups are targeted for the same religious persecution as civilian life. As described above (Section 5), in August 2003, 57 school students, including several girls, were arrested during their summer work project at Sawa military training centre on account of possessing bibles, and were severely punished. Religious expression is watched closely at schools, colleges and the University of Asmara, and evangelical students and teachers have been arrested. Currently several final year students of Halhale College are detained, and Semere Zaid, a university lecturer in agriculture, is in prison for the second time.(16)

No right to conscientious objection
Amnesty International takes no position as regards national military service but supports international standards which require that any government, such as Eritrea, which requires compulsory military service should recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service for reasons of individual’s religion (as with Jehovah's Witnesses) or as a matter of individual conscientious opinion or belief.

The denial of the right to conscientious objection to military service, affecting especially the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, is contrary to international law and the right to freedom of religion, belief and conscience. In terms of international law, the right to conscientious objection to military service is a basic component of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The UN Commission on Human Rights has urged governments to guarantee that individuals objecting to compulsory military service because of their conscientiously-held beliefs are given the opportunity to perform an alternative service. It has stated explicitly in a number of resolutions that this alternative service should be of a genuinely civilian character and of a length which cannot be considered to be a punishment. It has recommended that individuals be permitted to register as conscientious objectors at any point in time, before their conscription, after call-up papers have been issued, or during military service.

Military conscripts detained on account of their religion
Members of minority religious groups undergoing national service who have sought to practice their faith have been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

A former detainee who later fled the country told Amnesty International in 2004 of torture, confiscation and burning of bibles and religious cassettes in a military prison. He had previously been detained by the army and was later transferred to Nakura prison on the Dahlak Kebir island on the Red Sea, where many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are detained without charge or trial. He testified that some prisoners detained in Nakura prison who belonged to evangelical churches were punished with torture by tying on account of secretly having bibles in the prison, and their bibles were burned in front of them. His own Orthodox bible had been confiscated and burnt in front of him. He claimed that there was a secret military order during the latter part of the war with Ethiopia to punish anyone caught with a bible or singing hymns or praying. This was apparently because there had been a religious revival during the war with a number of conscripts being clandestinely converted to evangelical churches. According to the same testimony, Muslim prisoners were normally allowed to perform their regular prayers, but when Christians complained about being discriminated against, Muslims were stopped from praying too.

Hundreds of national service conscripts belonging to minority churches have been detained on different occasions and in different places on account of their faith, although details have been difficult to obtain, due to restricted access to military premises.

8. Torture and ill-treatment of religious prisoners of conscience
Amnesty International has frequently reported the use of torture in Eritrea as a punishment for political dissent and military offences, and as a means of interrogation.(17) It has been used against religious prisoners of conscience too, as punishment for practising their religion before being arrested or while in prison. In prison they are routinely prohibited any form of religious activity or discussion, bibles or religious materials, insulted and subjected to public humiliation. They are also commonly tortured or threatened to try to make them sign a statement agreeing to stop their religious worship and abandon their religion as a condition of release.

Typically, prisoners are tied up for several hours, once or repeatedly, in a position commonly known as “"helicopter”" (see sketch below, drawn by a torture survivor who is now a refugee) or in other positions. Prisoners are also beaten by teams of soldiers, or kept in solitary confinement in special underground punishment cells.

Conditions of detention often amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Metal shipping containers of the kind depicted in the photo below are used for religious as well as political prisoners, for example at Sawa army camp, Mai Serwa, Adi Abeto, Nakura prison on the Dahlak Kebir island, and many other army camps. They are usually overcrowded, suffocatingly hot in the day and cold at night. Prisoners are only allowed out for very short periods for toilet purposes, and water is rarely available for washing. Children are held with adults, and there are no special detention facilities for women, in contravention of international standards. Conditions in Wia and Gelalo army camps in eastern Eritrea are particularly harsh on account of the high desert temperatures.

For all prisoners, food is extremely poor and meagre. Many prisoners are ill but medical treatment is virtually non-existent. Prisoners falling seriously ill have been eventually admitted to hospital but swiftly returned to prison after treatment.

Several prisoners are said to have died on account of torture or denied of medical treatment. Pastor Ogbamichael Haimanot of the Kale Hiwot Church, who was arrested in January 2005 in Barentu, reportedly became mentally ill in Sawa army camp as a result of severe ill-treatment and denial of medical treatment – he was released in October 2005.

Over 150 of political prisoners, including many named in this report, are detained incommunicado in a security prison in Asmara known as Karchele, adjacent to the 2nd police station. Conditions there are particularly harsh. Some longer-term religious prisoners are held there incommunicado. Other detainees are held in a special security section of the 6th police station in Asmara. Many of the religious prisoners arrested in Asmara in 2004-2005 were taken first to the 5th police station, and then on to army custody, first in Adi Abeto, near Asmara, then to Mai Serwa, Sawa, Wia or Gelalo army camps.

9. Political prisoners and denial of the right to freedom of opinion
In addition to the religious prisoners described in this report, there are possibly thousands of prisoners of conscience in Eritrea who are imprisoned on account of their peaceful political opinions, as well as other political prisoners. The prisoners of conscience include 11 former government ministers who were members of parliament and former EPLF leaders. They have been detained since September 2001 in a crackdown targeting people openly calling for democratic reforms and for the President’s resignation after the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. There have been continual fears for their safety as their whereabouts and conditions have not been disclosed by the government. They were publicly accused of treason but never charged. They include Haile Woldetensae, former Foreign Minister, Petros Solomon, former EPLF security head and later Foreign Minister, and Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo, former Vice-President.

All private newspapers were also shut down (and remain closed) in September 2001. Ten leading journalists of the private press arrested at the same time and two state-media reporters arrested a few months later are still detained. The 12 detained journalists include Dawit Isaak(18), a Swedish citizen who has been refused access to Swedish government officials and is detained in Karchele security prison in Asmara, together with Fessahaye Yohannes (also known as “"Joshua”").

Several thousand prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners are believed to be held in indefinite and incommunicado detention without charge or trial, some of them in secret places of detention. Details and the whereabouts of most of them are unknown. Some political prisoners “"disappeared”" in the first weeks of independence, and others have evidently been extra-judicially executed since then. Some of the prisoners have been tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Many are held in appalling conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in metal shipping containers or underground cells, without adequate access to medical treatment or sanitary facilities.

Prisoners of conscience detained for political reasons also include former EPLF veterans and members of the armed forces; civil servants and professionals; and some 300 asylum-seekers fleeing military conscription who were forcibly returned by Malta in 2002 and by Libya in 2003 and are reportedly still detained.

Some prisoners of conscience of particular concern to Amnesty International are the following:

Aster Fissehatsion (f): aged in her 50s with one son, she joined the EPLF in 1974, becoming a representative of its women’s association. After independence, she worked as a civil servant and was elected to the central committee of the ruling party. She was arrested in the September 2001 round-up of political dissidents, who included her former husband, then Vice-President of Eritrea, Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo (see above). Her whereabouts in detention are not known.

Aster Yohannes (f): aged 46 with four children (including twins), she joined the EPLF in 1979 when she was an electrical engineering student. After independence in 1991, she brought up her children and worked as a civil servant. In January 2000 she went to study marketing at Phoenix University, Arizona, USA with a UN grant. Her husband, Petros Solomon (see above) was detained in 2001. Despite warnings of the risk of being arrested herself, she returned voluntarily to Eritrea on 11 December 2003 after her graduation to be with her children. She was detained on arrival at Asmara airport, despite a previous government guarantee of her safety. She is held in Karchele security prison in Asmara and has not been allowed to see her children. She is reportedly in a poor state of health emotionally and suffers from asthma and a heart disorder.

Bitwoded Abraha: aged 52, an army major general, former EPLF commander and deputy administrator of Assab port after independence, he has been detained since 1992 except for a few weeks of freedom, when he escaped in 1995 but was recaptured, and in August 1997 when he was released. However, two months later, he was re-detained for criticising the President. He is held in Karchele security prison in Asmara, and is reported to be mentally ill on account of long-term solitary confinement and denial of medical or psychiatric treatment.

Miriam Hagos (f): aged in her 50s, a commerce graduate and former EPLF fighter who worked in various departments of the EPLF, she was Director of Cinemas when she was detained on 6 October 2001. She was reportedly suspected of connections with the former government ministers detained the previous month. She has kidney and eye problems. She had been detained three times by the EPLF during the liberation struggle on account of her opinions. Her whereabouts in detention are not known.

Senait Debessai (f): aged in her 40s with three daughters, she joined the EPLF in 1976, initially working in healthcare. She later joined an EPLF cultural performance group. After independence she was elected to the executive committee of the National Union of Eritrean Women. She moved to Kenya in the mid-1990s when her husband was appointed Eritrea’s ambassador to Kenya. On their return to Eritrea, Senait entered Asmara University to study accountancy. She was arrested on 15 November 2003, allegedly at the instigation of her pro-government husband with whom she was engaged in difficult divorce proceedings. Her arrests coincided with (and may be connected to) the arrest of her brother, Ermias Debessai, former EPLF representative in the United Kingdom during the liberation struggle, later Eritrea’s ambassador to China and now a prisoner of conscience. Both are detained incommunicado and separately in Karchele security prison, where both are in very poor health. Senait Debessai is reportedly ill after a kidney operation, while Ermias Debessai, a diabetic, is said to be extremely thin and undernourished.

Tewelde Gebremedhin, Minassie Andezion and Habtom Woldemichael - three trade unionists: they were detained in Asmara on 30 March 2005 and are held incommunicado and without charge. Their whereabouts in detention are not known. They were arrested at the office of the official National Federation of Eritrean Workers. The authorities have given no explanation for the arrests, which came at a time of proposed government changes to the trade union structure, which is closely aligned to the ruling party. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and other international trade union organisations have lodged a complaint at these arbitrary detentions with the International Labour Office (ILO).

Releases of prisoners of conscience
Apart from some of the religious prisoners whose releases are mentioned in section 5 above, only a few long-term prisoners of conscience are known to have been released since Amnesty International’s May 2004 report. Some of these may have been released on account of severe ill-health due to ill-treatment or denial of adequate medical treatment. Released prisoners are warned not to speak of their detention, kept under surveillance and rarely allowed to leave the country.

Prisoners of conscience who have been released in the past year include Saadia Ahmed (f), aged 24, an Arabic-language reporter for the official Eritrean Television Service, detained in February 2002; Aklilu Solomon, Voice of America (VOA) reporter, detained in July 2003; and Ali Mohamed Saleh, a former senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, detained in 2001.

10. Constitutional rights violated
The Eritrean Constitution, which was ratified by the Constituent Assembly on 23 May 1997, guarantees the right to freedom of religion, freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of expression and freedom of association. In Chapter III on Fundamental Rights, Freedoms and Duties, Article 19 guarantees freedom of “"Conscience, Religion, Expression of Opinion, Movement, Assembly and Organisation”".

Article 14 on Equality under the Law states that “"All persons are equal under the law”" (Article 14.1) and that “"No person may be discriminated against on account of race, ethnic origin, language, colour, gender, religion [highlighted here], disability, age, political view, or social or economic status or any other improper factors”".

Limitations are set on fundamental rights and freedoms “"in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, health or morals, for the prevention of public order or crime or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”" (Article 16.1). However, laws providing such limitations must be “"consistent with the principles of democracy and justice”" and must in any case not limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief as set out in Article 19.1 above. Any such law shall be “"null and void”" (Article 18.1). Any citizen claiming violation of a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution “"may petition a competent court for redress”" (Article 28.2).

In practice, the constitutional guarantees of the right to freedom of opinion and of religious belief are not implemented. Violations are systematically perpetrated by the authorities with impunity and without any possibility of legal protection or judicial redress. Constitutional protections against arbitrary detention and unfair trial (Article 17) and against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 16) are also not respected in practice. There is no Constitutional Court to rule on the implementation of the Constitution or on violations of the Constitution’s human rights protections.

11. International standards violated on the right to religious freedom
Under international human rights standards and international treaties to which Eritrea is a party, Eritrea is under obligation to respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including religious worship, assembly and association. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, affirm that everyone is entitled to these rights without distinction of any kind, including religion.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship or observance”". Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Eritrea acceded in 2002, adds: “"No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice”" (Article 18.2). General Comment no.22 of the Human Rights Committee notes that “"policies or practices having the same intention or effect [i.e. coercion], such as, for example… restricting access to education, medical care, employment or the rights guaranteed by article 25 … and other provisions of the Covenant are … inconsistent with Article 18(2)”".

States which have ratified the two International Human Rights Covenants are required to submit regular reports to the Human Rights Committee on the measures they have taken to give effect to the rights recognized in the Covenants. Eritrea has failed to submit its initial reports to the Human Rights Committee which were due on 22 April 2004.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Eritrea acceded in 1999, states that “"Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed”" (Article 8).

The right to religious freedom was elaborated in 1981 when the UN General Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. The preamble to this Declaration considers that “"religion or belief, for anyone who professes either, is one of the fundamental elements in his conception of life and that freedom of religion or belief should be fully respected and guaranteed”". This is expanded in the various articles of the Declaration.

Article 6 sets out the relevant freedoms relevant to religion:
(a) To worship or assemble in connection with a religion or belief, and to establish and maintain places for these purposes;
(b) To establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions;
(c) To make, acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief;
(d) To write, issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas;
(e) To teach a religion or belief in places suitable for these purposes;
(f) To solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals and institutions;
(g) To train, appoint and elect or designate by succession appropriate leaders called for by the requirements and standards of any religion or belief;
(h) To observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one’s religion or belief;
(i) To establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion or belief at the national and international levels.

As expressed by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief(19), persons deprived of their liberty have the right to freedom of religion or belief. Article 10, paragraph 1 of the ICCPR provides that “"All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”" In its General Comment No. 22 (1993) on Article 18 of the Covenant, the Human Rights Committee has stressed that “"[p]ersons already subject to certain legitimate constraints, such as prisoners, continue to enjoy their rights to manifest their religion or belief to the fullest extent compatible with the specific nature of the constraint”".

In 1986 the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to “"examine incidents and government actions in all parts of the world which would fall within the provisions of the Declaration and to recommend remedial measures”". In 2005 the Special Rapporteur's report to the Commission on Human Rights listed communications sent to the Government of Eritrea in 2004 concerning arrests of members of the Kale Hiwot church, Full Gospel Church, Rema Church, and others. The government in February 2004 replied that Jehovah’s Witnesses had not been arrested because of their religion beliefs but because they refused to participate in the national service program. Rema church and other church members were detained because they had refused to register and apply for permits. It said they were held for only 10 days because of the “"leniency and tolerance of the government”", denied they had been ill-treated, and described the charges of ill-treatment as “"only malicious defamations”". Amnesty International considers that the Eritrean government’s replies to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief failed to address the seriousness of the concerns about violations of right to freedom of religion and belief.

The Special Rapporteur asked for replies to three other communications and to her request in 2004 to visit Eritrea – to which she has still received no reply.(20) The Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, also sent urgent communications to the Government of Eritrea in connection with the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses arrested on 24 January 2004.(21)

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, considering Eritrea’s report on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, expressed concern regarding the freedom of expression and religion in Eritrea in regard to children: “"Noting that the State party's Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression and religion, [it] is concerned at reports that measures affecting children and young people were taken against students on religious grounds, indicating that these rights were not duly upheld”".(22)

In April 2005 the Eritrean government representative told the UN Commission on Human Rights, in response to criticisms of religious persecution, that the Seventh Day Adventist Church would soon be given a permit.(23) To date, the permit has not been issued to this religion or three other minority religious groups which officials claimed were about to be registered, including the Baha’i religion, and they all remain banned.

On the question of registration of religion, Amnesty International does not object to administrative regulations for registration which are reasonable, practical and in conformity with international human rights standards. Amnesty International considers that the failure of the government to process the registration applications made by some minority religious groups and to register any of them for the last three years indicates a refusal to recognize the rights of the minority religious groups and their members to religious freedom. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the imposition of registration requirements for minority religious groups of an extremely restrictive and punitive character has led directly to widespread arrests, torture, and illegal arbitrary detention of members of religious groups, as well as other violations of their basic human rights.

Eritrea’s denial of a wide range of basic human rights to Jehovah’s Witnesses violates a number of principles in the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The government’s actions against Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority religious groups are in violation of the government’s obligations under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principles set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

Government’s dismissal of international criticism
The government has frequently reacted dismissively to criticisms of human rights violations, whether by Amnesty International or other international organizations, including media organizations concerned about detentions of journalists,(24) or by diplomats privately. Criticisms of religious persecution have been no exception. The government has rarely responded to Amnesty International members’ numerous Urgent Action appeals or replied to Amnesty International reports.

▪ On 1 May 2003, a government statement replying to criticisms but without making any reference to complaints about particular incidents and cases, merely cited what the Constitution said about the right to freedom of religion."People are free to worship according to their wish, or to refrain from worshipping or practising religion".(25)
▪ In December 2003 the Eritrean government described as "scandalous and misleading" the reference to Eritrea as one of11 countries severely violating religious liberty in the US State Department's global report on International Religious Freedom in 2003(26), but it did not comment on or attempt to refute any of the facts presented.(27) Subsequently in September 2004, the US Government designated Eritrea as a “"country of particular concern”" under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The US State Department 2005 report on religious freedom in Eritrea was also extremely critical.(28)
▪ In April 2005, the Director of the Office of the President said that “"one cannot question the credentials of this country on religious rights and religious tolerance… If a sect assembles without permission, its members may be arrested for five hours and then let off with a warning”".(29)
▪ In September 2005, the Acting Minister of Information, in response to criticism by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) relating to secret and arbitrary detentions of journalists since 2001, stated: “"That is our own affair, a sovereign issue. It is up to us what, why, when and where we do things”".(30)

The government has refused to cooperate with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which criticised the detentions of 11 members of parliament and called for their release.(31) The IPU has to date received no reply to its request to send a mission to the country.

In denying basic human rights and continuing to postpone implementation of the Constitution’s requirements for establishing multi-party democracy in place of the current one-party rule, and in refusing international human rights dialogue and access to the country, the Eritrean President and government have turned Eritrea into a virtually “"closed”" country in respect of its international community obligations and cooperation.

12. Refugees fleeing from religious persecution
Hundreds of members of banned religious groups have fled the country to seek asylum abroad. Some had been arbitrarily detained and tortured, while others fled in fear of similar or other human rights violations. In total, about 250 Jehovah’s Witnesses have sought asylum over the last decade. Many members of evangelical churches have also fled in the past three years. There has been a very large flow of Eritrean refugees to neighbouring countries(32), particularly Sudan, whose border is close to Sawa army camp. Some of these fled due to refusal to perform compulsory national service. Their treatment as asylum seekers in countries such as Sudan or Kenya is often poor(33) and many have tried to reach other countries.

Persons who object to compulsory military service and/or associated participation in military action based on religious convictions or other reasons of conscience may be considered to be refugees under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (‘Refugee Convention’) in particular circumstances, such as where there are no alternatives to military service available or where punishment for refusing to perform it is disproportionately severe.(34)

Amnesty International considers that asylum seekers who have fled Eritrea after being detained or at risk of detention on account of their religion would be further detained if returned forcibly to Eritrea. They would be at risk of torture as well as indefinite arbitrary detention, especially if they had previously been imprisoned on account of their beliefs and conditionally released, or if they had escaped from conscription. In addition, they would be accused of betraying their country by fleeing, and could be punished harshly for that too.

In January 2004 the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a general guideline, which is still current, advising against the return of rejected asylum seekers to Eritrea on account of the poor human rights situation.

13. Amnesty International’s recommendations
Amnesty International makes the following recommendations to the Government of Eritrea concerning the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Recommendations are also made about aspects of the administration of justice and the rule of law as they relate to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and prisoners of conscience detained on account of their religious beliefs.

In particular, as the 25th anniversary approaches in 2006 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Base on Religion or Belief, Amnesty International calls on the Government of Eritrea to respond positively to the call of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, addressed to governments and NGOs around the world, to promote freedom of religion and challenge rising trends across the world of religious intolerance.

13.1 Religious freedom
The government should publicly affirm the rights to freedom of conscience, religion, opinion and expression of opinion, movement, assembly and association, in line with its obligations under international human rights law and as set out in Article 19 of the Constitution;

All prisoners of conscience, including those imprisoned for their religious beliefs, should be immediately and unconditionally released;
The government should publicly affirm the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in line with its obligations under international human rights law. In particular, no one should be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment to force them to cease practising their religion, to deny their faith or to join another religion;
Children should not be imprisoned on account of their religious beliefs, or their parents’ religious beliefs;
The government should respect and protect the right to practice a religion, including meeting for worship and using religious texts and materials, both in civilian and military life;
Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs should not be subject to limitations, except for those prescribed by law and necessary to protect public, safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others;
The requirement for registration of religious organizations should be revised to ensure that this is not punitive or restrictive of the right to practice a religion;
The government should recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service. It should introduce provisions without delay for alternative civilian service which are not punitive or under military control or administration, for those whose religious, spiritual, moral, humanitarian, philosophical, political or other conscientiously-held beliefs preclude them from performing military service. An independent and impartial decision-making procedure for applying for a civilian alternative to military service should be established;
The government should end all discrimination against Jehovah's Witnesses on account of their religion, and ensure that their civil, political, economic and social rights are respected and protected.

13.2 The administration of justice and the rule of law
The following recommendations apply equally to all people deprived of their liberty, including those detained on account of their religious beliefs.

Torture and other ill-treatment
The President and officials responsible for the administration of justice should publicly declare their total opposition to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They should condemn these practices unreservedly whenever they occur and make clear to all members of the police, military and security services that torture and other ill-treatment are crimes which will not be tolerated, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice;
The government should ratify the UN Convention against Torture and implement its provisions, including by ensuring effective training of police, military and security officials, including their duty to refuse to obey any order to commit torture or other ill-treatment;
The government should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and, in line with its provisions, establish an effective national preventive mechanism for visiting places of detention;
The use of tying (for example in the “"helicopter”" torture technique) as a punishment or as a method of interrogation must immediately end;
All complaints and reports of torture and other ill-treatment should be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by a body independent of the alleged perpetrators. Officials suspected of committing torture or other ill-treatment should be suspended from active duty during the investigation, and complainants, witnesses and others at risk protected from intimidation and reprisals;
Victims of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should obtain redress and have the right to reparation, including rehabilitation and compensation.

Arbitrary and unlawful detention
The government should immediately stop the illegal practice of indefinite arbitrary detention without charge or trial, incommunicado detention and detention in secret detention centres;
Everyone deprived of their liberty should be allowed to take proceedings before a court to challenge the lawfulness of the detention;
No one should be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest;
Everyone arrested should be informed of the reason for their arrest and informed promptly of any charge against them;
Everyone deprived of their liberty should be brought promptly before a judge and brought to trial within a reasonable time, or released.

The right to fair trial
Anyone accused of an offence punishable by imprisonment or other significant penalty, or any other criminal offence, should be treated in conformity with international standards and entitled to a fair trial in line with Eritrea’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These include: the right to prepare and present a legal defence with the assistance of legal defence counsel; the presumption of innocence; the right of an accused person to be informed promptly of the charges against them; to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence and to communicate in private with counsel of their choice; the right to a fair and public hearing in their presence and without undue delay by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law; not to be compelled to testify against themselves or to confess guilt; and the right of appeal to a higher court;
The independence of the judiciary must be guaranteed;
No one should be given a prison sentence through an extra-judicial procedure contrary to the laws and Constitution of Eritrea, as well as principles of the rule of law;
An independent system of military justice should be established with jurisdiction over members of the armed forces, including national service conscripts, containing full guarantees of the right to a fair trial before an impartial and competent court.

Incommunicado or secret detention
No one should be detained except in an officially designated place of custody or prison. Security prisons such as Karchele prison in Asmara should be brought within the framework of the prison administration;
The practice of holding prisoners in metal shipping containers must end immediately;
Civilians should not be detained in military premises, such as Sawa army camp, Mai Serwa, Adi Abeto, Wia, Gelalo, Nakura army camps or others;
An up-to-date register of detainees should be maintained in every prison or other place of custody. Information about the arrest of any person and where they are held, including transfers and releases, should be made available promptly to relatives, lawyers, the courts and others with a legitimate interest. The government should keep a central register of detainees to enable relatives to trace anyone arrested and prevent any “"disappearance”" in custody;
Detainees should have effective access to relatives, lawyers and medical doctors without delay after arrest and regularly thereafter.
Constitutional and legal safeguards against unlawful detention and "disappearances" must be immediately implemented, including guaranteeing an effective right to remedies such as habeas corpus;
Any public official suspected to be responsible for the “"disappearance”" should be brought to justice;
All prisoners should be treated humanely and their rights as prisoners respected in accordance with recognized relevant international standards, particularly the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of All Prisoners;
The government should open all its prisons and other places of custody to inspection by appropriate independent humanitarian bodies.

Human rights observance
Amnesty International renews its call on the President and Government of Eritrea to institute reforms and practises which will establish respect for human rights in Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea should ensure that human rights are respected and protected by the government and enjoyed by all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction;
The government should comply with requirements to report to the bodies responsible for monitoring implementation of the international human rights treaties to which Eritrea is a party. It should respond positively to any requests for information made by UN independent experts, including the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and on freedom of religion or belief, and extend invitations to those independent experts to visit Eritrea;
Individuals should be allowed to exercise effectively their right to freedom of association, and in particular to form and join independent human rights organizations and carry out the work of promoting and protecting human rights without fear of reprisal. The government should recognize the legitimate role of human rights defenders as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The government should allow free and open access to the country by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.

13.3 Recommendations to the international community
Amnesty International calls on the international community - the UN and its specialized agencies, the African Union, the European Union and other countries with specific bilateral ties with Eritrea - to support these recommendations in their relations with the Government of Eritrea, and to give special attention to protecting and promoting human rights, including the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief;

Amnesty International calls on all governments to ensure that Eritreans who have fled abroad are given access to asylum procedures and have their application fairly and efficiently assessed. Amnesty International urges governments not to forcibly return any rejected Eritrean asylum seekers to Eritrea due to the poor human rights situation.

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(1) Eritrea attained de facto independence in 1991, and formally recognised independence in 1993 after a UN-supervised referendum.

(2) For further details of Amnesty International’s concerns and general recommendations about human rights violations in Eritrea, see "Eritrea: ‘You have no right to ask’ - Government resists scrutiny on human rights", Amnesty International, May 2004 (AI Index: AFR 64/003/2004); "Eritrea: Arbitrary detentions of government critics and journalists", Amnesty International, September 2002 (AI Index: AFR 64/008/2002); and numerous Urgent Action appeals and other articles, which are available on www.amnesty.org.

(3) Proclamation No.145/2005 of 11 May 2005 "to determine the administration of non-governmental organisations" requires NGOs to submit quarterly progress reports and audited annual financial reports, pay taxes on all imported goods including food aid, deposit substantial funds (which many do not have) in an Eritrean bank – US$1 million for local NGOs (who must immediately declare publicly and officially inform the Ministry of any donations received) and US$2 million for foreign NGOs.

(4) These include Oxfam (Great Britain), Catholic Relief Services, Lutheran World Federation, ACCORD, Africare, Norwegian Church Aid, International Rescue Committee, Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps and Japan Emergency NGO.

(5) UN Consolidated Appeals Process, 2005.

(6) The term "minority religious group" is used here to distinguish them from the four officially recognized and registered religions above.

(7) This order, although not officially published, was confirmed in further speeches and actions by the authorities.

(8) According to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ representatives, the refusal to bear arms is a central principle of their religion throughout the world, for which they have been and still are persecuted in many countries. This principle derives from a central requirement of members to "render unto Caesar [i.e. a government] what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's". They do not engage in politics and do not refuse civic duties unrelated to the military and war.

(9) BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 4 March 1995, quoting the official Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea in the Tigrinya language.

(10) Interview with Yemane Gebremeskal, IRIN (UN) News Agency, 1 April 2004.

(11) See section 7 below on national military service.

(12) For example, Compass Direct (www.compassdirect.org), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (www.csw.org), the Office of Public Information of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.jw-media.org) and Release Eritrea (www.releaseeritrea.org).

(13) See section 7 on the militarization of education.

(14) The EDA comprises 16 exile opposition groups. It is supported by Sudan and Ethiopia, while Eritrea supports armed Ethiopian opposition groups, the Oromo Liberation Front and the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which are fighting inside Ethiopia.

(15) In August 2001 hundreds of University of Asmara students who refused the summer work project were arrested, beaten and made to work in harsh conditions at Wia and Gelalo army camps, where at least two died from heat stroke.

(16) See incidents described in section 5 above.

(17) Eritrea: "You have no right to ask" – Government resists scrutiny on human rights, Amnesty International, May 2004 (AI Index: AFR 64/003/2004.

(18) On 21 November 2005 Eritrea’s Acting Minister of Information stated that Dawit Isaak had been released temporarily for medical treatment but would be returned to prison afterwards. At the time of writing, it appeared that he was back in Karchele security prison.

(19) UN Document A/60/399, paragraph 73.

(20) See UN document General Assembly on Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, 30 September 2005.

(21) UN document E/CN.4/2005/61/Add.i, 15 March 2005.

(22) Section 29, July 2003, CRC/C/15/Add.204, 2 July 2003.

(23) The Seventh Day Adventist Church has had no members arrested, as far as is known.

(24) For example, the International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Sans Frontières.

(25) Eritrea Arrests, Conscripts More Protestant Christians, Compass Direct, 1 May 2003.

(26) US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Article 19, the International Press Institute, December 2003.

(27) www.state.gov.

(28) US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, 8 November 2005, www.state.gov.

(29) Agence France Presse, 5 April 2005.

(30) Agence France Presse, 19 September 2005.

(31) IPU resolution, Manila, 8 April 2005.

(32) For more details, see Eritrea: "You have no right to ask" – Government rejects scrutiny on human rights, Amnesty International, May 2004, see also section 9 of this report.

(33) Report on Eritrean Refugees in Kenya, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, September 2005, www.csw.org.uk.

(34) UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva, re-edited 1992), paras. 167-174; UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection, including Religion-Based Refugee Claims under Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees , UN doc. HCR/GIP/04/06, 28 April 2004, paras. 25-26.
 
Source:  www.amnesty.org


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