UN experts denounce Egypt’s expulsion of asylum-seeking Eritrean family in violation of principle of non-refoulement
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: November 21, 2021
United Nations human rights experts have expressed their grave concern about the forcible return of seven Eritrean asylum-seekers, including five children, from Egypt, despite the risk of enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment they are expected to encounter in their country of origin, in violation of international law and Egypt’s rights obligations Human.
They are treated as “traitors”:
In a statement published by the Human Rights Council’s media center in Geneva, the experts said: “Individuals who have fled Eritrea and subsequently forcefully returned are considered as “traitors” and are often detained upon arrival to Eritrea, questioned, tortured, held in extremely punitive conditions and disappeared.”
The experts expressed their concern that, rather than being granted protection, this group of asylum seekers were subjected to what appears to be arbitrary detention for more than two years in Egypt, and were forcibly returned to Eritrea without any individual assessment of the human rights violations they might face upon return.
The experts noted that “any repatriation process without full respect for procedural guarantees, including an individual risk assessment, violates the absolute prohibition of refoulement under international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law”.
Failure to assess the expected risks of returning them:
The asylum seekers were part of a larger group of 18 Eritreans – all members of the same family – who had entered Egypt via Sudan in October 2019, and have been detained in Egypt since then, denied access to legal representation, the asylum system and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Eight other members of their families were returned to Eritrea on 30 October and have not been seen since then and are believed to be held incommunicado. The experts called on the Eritrean authorities to provide information on their whereabouts and release them immediately. Other members of the family are in detention in Egypt, and are also at risk of imminent forcible deportation to Eritrea.
The experts added: “This family fled Eritrea because they were afraid that the young members of the family, including the children, would be subjected to indefinite forced conscription. The indefinite national service in Eritrea is linked to serious human rights violations, including forced labour, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and sexual violence.”
UN demands to stop deportation and release those who have been deported:
The experts urged the Egyptian authorities to immediately halt the deportation of the three Eritrean asylum-seekers who remain in detention, and to review their policy of expelling Eritrean nationals without any risk assessment, despite the significant risks of arbitrary detention.
The experts also called on Eritrea to respect the rights of the returnees, and to immediately release this family, as well as all returned Eritrean asylum seekers who are reportedly being arbitrarily detained.