Eritreans demonstrating in the capital, Adis Ababa, in support of the 2015 UN inquiry showing that the country’s rights violations may be crimes against humanity

The European Parliament (EP) has passed a resolution condemning in “the strongest terms” the “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” in Eritrea, reports CSW.

It follows 2016’s report by the UN that the country’s “crimes against humanity” should be investigated by the International Criminal Court.

The EP resolution describes the country as having “one of the worst human-rights records in the world, with routine human-rights violations taking place every day”. Passed on 6 July, it highlights the rise in “harassment of and violence against those practising religious faiths” since 2016, and calls for the Eritrean government to put an end to the “detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians”.

It makes specific reference to the case of Abune Antonios, the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (the country’s largest religious community), who has been detained in an unknown location since 2007 after refusing to excommunicate 3,000 parishioners who opposed the government. The Patriarch, 90 in July and a diabetic, has reportedly been refused medical care during his detention.

The resolution gives “its full support” for the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, saying that unhindered access to the country must be extended to “international and regional human-rights bodies, including special rapporteurs”, enabling them to monitor the country’s progress in improving its human rights.

Eritrea, 10th on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of the worst countries to be a Christian, has seen a fresh wave of arrests. Since May, more than 120 Eritrean Christians have been arrested, with Evangelicals and Pentecostals at particular risk because the country prohibits Christian practice outside the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran denominations.