The 1997 Constitution of Eritrea stipulates that no one "shall be deprived of life without due process of law".Art. 15, 1997 Constitution of Eritrea.It is further stated that the "dignity of all persons shall be inviolable" and that no one "shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".Art. 16(1) and (2), 1997 Constitution of Eritrea.
The Constitution also declares that the Eritrea security forces "shall owe allegiance to and obey the Constitution" (but also to the government), though it shall be "respectful of the people" while also being "subject to and accountable under the law".Art. 12(1), (2), and (3), 1997 Constitution of Eritrea.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Signatory|
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
|1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court||Not party|
|Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions||N/A|
|Malabo Protocol on Amendments to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights||Not party|
Police Use of Force
The Eritrean Police Force (EPF) is the main law enforcement agency of Eritrea and predates the state's existence being the regional police in Ethiopia.
Under the 2015 Penal Code, it is an offence for a law enforcement or other public official to unlawfully arrest and detain another, or to use
physical or mental torture, or other improper methods, during the arrest, custody, supervision, escort or interrogation of a person.Art. 149, 2015 Penal Code.
The offence is punishable with a term of imprisonment of "not less than 6 months and not more than 12 months, or a fine".Art. 149, 2015 Penal Code.A law enforcement official who, in using unlawful force, causes serious bodily injury to another commits an aggravated offence.Art. 150, 2015 Penal Code.Where death results, life imprisonment and even the death penalty may be imposed.
There is no independent police oversight body in Eritrea, although in theory the Attorney-General could also "directly or indirectly hold the police accountable for their actions".
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In 2016, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea reported that crimes against humanity had been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in Eritrean detention facilities, military training camps and other locations across the country over the previous 25 years. Crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts have been committed as part of a campaign to instil fear in, deter opposition from, and ultimately to control the Eritrean civilian population since Eritrean authorities took control of Eritrean territory in 1991.Detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, UN doc. A/HRC/32/CRP.1, 8 June 2016.
In her 2015 report, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, called on Eritrea to:
Ensure that public order officials, including the military and the police, receive appropriate professional training for carrying out their public security duties, especially in relation to the use of force and firearms.Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, UN doc. para. 76(e).
She also recommended that the Government of Eritrea:
Review rules of engagement to ensure their compliance with international law enforcement standards, such as the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and FirearmsReport of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, UN doc. para. 76(e).
and that they:
Investigate and prosecute public order officials, including the military and the police, responsible for killings, violence, unlawful arrests and arbitrary destruction of personal property during evictions.Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, UN doc. para. 76(f).
Eritrea acceded to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1999 but only submitted its initial report (covering 1999-2016) to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2018. The Commission considered Eritrea's report in May 2018 at its 62nd Ordinary Session but has not yet published its Concluding Observations.
In its national report to the African Commission, Eritrea claimed that:
Respecting human dignity ... remains a priority of policing. Police behavior and discipline is of utmost importance and rules and procedures that reflect the law are exercised and monitored. They have been instrumental in minimizing any abuse and inappropriate practice or behavior. The Eritrean Police Force (EPF) also takes appropriate measures on any abuse and violation of responsibility during active service, though the occurrence is minimal.Eritrea: Initial National Report (1999-2016), Prepared on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), Asmara, para. 57.