Inside Story

Can Eritrea improve its human rights record?

Eritrea marks first independence day since improved relations with Ethiopia, but human rights issues remain.

Eritrea is marking its independence day after a year of profound changes.

A peace deal last year ended a decades-old border dispute with its larger neighbour Ethiopia. 

And the United Nations lifted sanctions and an arms embargo.

But President Isaias Afwerki, who’s been in power for nearly 30 years, is accused of ruling with an iron fist.

Political opponents are jailed, there’s mandatory military service and Eritrea is now one of the biggest sources of African refugees in Europe. 

So, can Eritrea introduce political change and improve its human rights record?  


Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra 


Abraham Zere – executive director of PEN Eritrea In Exile, a freedom of expression organisation

Martin Plaut – senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the author of Understanding Eritrea: Inside Africa’s Most Repressive State

John Mukum Mbaku – non-resident senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative programme