Saturday, May 5, 2012

118 young Eritrean refugees forced under torture to sign voluntary repatriation documents - Roberto Malini

118 young Eritrean refugees forced under torture to sign voluntary repatriation documents

Milan, May 5, 2012. Note from EveryOne Group: the international campaign for the salvation of 118 Eritrean prisoners has achieved important results. Over 50 young refugees have already been transferred to Ethiopia where they are now in good health. Together with the NGO Gandhi, we are constantly asking the UNHCR to follow the other refugees, and ensure they too are taken to Ethiopia. In addition to the UNHCR, the OHCHR and the European Parliament will also be monitoring the fate of the other Eritrean prisoners in Egypt. As soon as they too are safe, we will post the news. 

EU Parlamentary question . 118 young forced under torture to sign voluntary repatriation documents.
23 November 2011 Subject: 118 young Eritrean refugees forced under torture to sign voluntary repatriation documents
EveryOne Group has issued a press release detailing the terrible situation faced by detainees at Aswan prison in Egypt, where about 300 Eritrean refugees are being held in appalling sanitary conditions and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment on a daily basis.

According to the information released by EveryOne Group, most of the refugees have come from the prison camps run by traffickers in northern Sinai, where they were subjected to torture, beatings and rape. In the last few days, 118 Catholic young Eritrean men were summoned by the prison guards one by one, and asked to sign documents in which they agreed to voluntary repatriation. When the refugees refused, explaining that they would be persecuted in Eritrea — and in many cases murdered — the guards subjected them to torture and beatings, forcing them to sign the papers. The Muslim Eritreans did not suffer the same treatment. The young men who signed the papers are now awaiting deportation.

In the light of the extremely serious situation outlined above, does the Commission not think it should make an urgent appeal to the Minister for the Interior of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and to the Egyptian embassies, to ensure that those responsible for torturing and beating the 118 refugees are brought to justice and that the Eritrean prisoners receive international protection as provided for under the Geneva Convention on Refugees?

In addition, does it not think it should endorse the urgent appeal launched by EveryOne Group, the Gandhi Association and the network of NGOs for the rights of refugees to the Secretary‑General of the United Nations and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, to use all their political, legal and humanitarian powers to put a stop to the killing, torture, beatings, unfair detentions and deportations of Eritrean and sub-Saharan refugees?


29 February 2012

Joint answer given by High Representative/Vice‑President Ashton on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-010566/11 , E-012089/11 , P-012191/11

According to the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior, Sub-Saharan refugees are victims of gangs involved in human trafficking. The government led by Prime Minister Al-Ganzouri appointed on 7 December 2011 indicated that the Sinai is a strategic priority which should receive greater attention. It raises hope that the fight against organised crime will be intensified and that the Egyptian authorities will show more commitment in addressing the issue of refugees held hostages by human traffickers in the Sinai.

As regards the refugees detained by the Egyptian authorities, they are considered ‘infiltrators’ because they have crossed the border illegally and have not applied to the Egyptian authorities or to the UNHCR for asylum. UNHCR has been denied access to the detention facilities. Since September 2011, the Egyptian authorities have begun to expel these individuals to their countries of origin. The UNHCR has warned the Egyptian authorities that such expulsions could amount to a refoulement.

The EU Delegation in Cairo has met repeatedly with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior to express its concerns regarding this issue but progress has so far been limited. The EU will continue to urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure the respect for human rights, including the protection of migrants and refugees. The EU has repeatedly invited Egypt to develop and improve the quality of the assistance and protection offered to asylum‑seekers and refugees residing or transiting on their territory. The EU has also pressed the Egyptian authorities to ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is observed for all migrants in need of international protection while UNHCR is given full possibility to implement its mandate on the entire territory of Egypt.

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