35 Rights groups condemn Egypt’s detention of Eritrean asylum seekers

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Thirty-five human rights groups have condemned Egypt’s detention of Eritrean asylum seekers, calling on the government to abide by international treaties, stop arrests and abuse of asylum seekers, and halt any plans to deport them forcibly.

The Refugees Platform in Egypt has documented the forcible return of 70 Eritrean asylum seekers, including women and children, to Asmara. Some forcibly deported were subjected to mandatory military service after their return. International human rights groups have described Eritrea’s military service as forced labour.

Egyptian authorities routinely mistreat asylum seekers and have held many of them for two years in inhumane conditions, they added. While in detention, asylum seekers faced a lack of medical care and denial of legal defence and were not allowed to contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Currently, at least 200 asylum-seekers live in appalling detention conditions, in addition to the risk of forcible deportation.

The Refugees Platform in Egypt has reported that Eritrean activists were subjected to threats of deportation if they contacted rights organizations or published information about the situation of Eritrean refugees in Egypt. They were also threatened by the Embassy of Eritrea in Cairo. The Refugees Platform in Egypt and El Nadeem Center against Violence and Torture have demanded the Public Prosecution open an investigation into the forcible returns and hold those responsible accountable.