Sanctions Circus: Eritrea Responds to Report Leaked to Reuters Leaker
By Matthew Russell Lee| Innercity Press
UNITED NATIONS, July 17 — The dysfunction of the UN's sanctions committees is exemplified by the current Eritrea report. There was no consensus on releasing it, as some argued there was no evidentiary support for its claims. But it was, predictably, leaked to Reuters which rather than put it online cherry picked its view.
We have previously noted that since Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau has been conclusively shown to have leaked to a UN official an anti-Press document that was labeled and promised to be internal to the ostensibly independent UN Correspondents Association, him reporting leaks that go the other way must be seen in that context.
But tellingly the country at issue, Eritrea, tells Inner City Press it has not been provided with a copy of the report. That is dysfunction.
For once with a country mentioned (and slandered, it says) in sanctions reports is a member of the Council: Rwanda. And the questions it has asked, for example of Department of Peacekeeping Operations chief Herve Ladsous, have not been answered.
But at least Rwanda is in the room. Eritrea is not. Given that imbalance, Inner City Press will for now publish this from the Eritrean Mission to the UN:
Eritrea has not yet received the report although it is, and remains, a concerned State. This regrettable pattern has almost become a norm as Eritrea continues to be denied full and timely access to the periodic reports submitted by the SEMG. The situation further provokes an important question: why resort to elaborate measures of preventing timely and full access to the accused party if the contents of the report are indeed a result of rigorous, verifiable and professional investigation?
The report failed to produce material evidences that establish Eritrea's support for armed groups in Somalia in violation of the relevant UNSC resolutions. This fact is critical because Eritrea’s alleged acts of stoking instability in Somalia were the 'principal justifications' for the original imposition of the sanctions still in place.
The Group failed to respect its mandate: On several occasions, Eritrea and many members of the Council have expressed their serious misgivings on the proclivity of the SEMG to exceed its mandate and probe into matters outside its purview in the course of preparing its periodic reports. This unwarranted demeanor is again manifested in the SEMG’s current report. A case in point is unsolicited analysis of the internal political situation in Eritrea and issue human trafficking. The Group’s tendency to overstretch its mandate on Eritrea goes contrary to its willingness to investigate Ethiopia’s low-intensity war against Eritrea aimed at “regime change”.
· Failure to respect minimum evidentiary standard: As usual it relies on sources such as “defectors”, “unnamed diplomats”, and “authorities in an East African country”.
a. Although the report does not provide any material evidence of Eritrea extending financial and/or military support to Al-Shebaab or any other armed group in Somalia. It nonetheless insinuates the existence of a continuing threat to peace and security in Somalia by misconstruing incidental contacts that may have been historically cultivated with certain individuals. Eritrea supports earnestly the efforts of the Government of Somalia to stabilize the country. Eritrea upholds the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia and supports the Federal Government. It encourages all Somalis to engage in constructive dialogue and national reconciliation, and opposes all negative intervention in the internal affairs of the country. Yet, the report speculates, in disparaging tones, that Eritrea’s relations with the Federal Government of Somalia must be based on ‘tactical considerations’. This is presumptuous and raises serious questions on the manner and substance of the SEMG's judgment and conclusions
b. The report also accuses Eritrea of possible violation of the arms embargo. The conclusion is predicated on the fact that the central government garage enjoys business relations with several countries. The government garage mentioned in the report houses civilian transportation vehicles as well as construction and agricultural machineries. Naturally, it has cultivated, throughout the past years, technical cooperation arrangements with several companies based in different countries in order to ensure and enhance the government’s efforts to build its infrastructure. These technical cooperation arrangements have no military components whatsoever. The SEMG has not produced any contract that the government garage has executed anytime in the past for the purchase of weapons for or on behalf of Eritrea. Accordingly, there are no grounds for the SEMG to recommend “an import notification of certain categories of civilian equipment and spare parts" on the central government garage. Eritrea discerns in this recommendation another malicious attempt to impede its development efforts.
· The sanctions were imposed hastily and are totally unjustified. And now there is absolutely no basis to maintain them. The main original reason for their imposition was Eritrea’s presumed support to Al-Shabaab, which has long been proven to be non-existent. On Djibouti, Eritrea remains committed to the facilitation of the State of Qatar on all aspects of the differences between the two neighbors. The time, therefore has come, if it is not overdue, to lift the unfair, unjust and counterproductive sanctions on Eritrea. Sanctions are supposed to be an extreme measure and there is no legitimate reason for this extreme measure to continue to be imposed on Eritrea. The arms embargo on Eritrea contravenes its inalienable right to self-defense when its territories remain occupied in breach of international law and relevant provisions of the UN Charter. Its economic implications on a country that is making modest but solid economic and social progress cannot be understated.
NOTE: Beyond publishing the above provided by the Eritrean mission, we question: when it is shown that the major Western wire service's representative has gotten so close to the administration he is supposed to cover that he leaks documents to the authorities, what happens?
Charbonneau immediately gave to the UN's top accreditation official an internal document that he and the other Executive Committee members had promised three minutes before would remain only inside UNCA. Click here for document,here for story.
Click here for audio of the UNCA Executive Committee meeting where Charbonneau said the document would remain only within UNCA — three minutes before he sent it to the UN's top accreditation official with the notation, "you didn't get this from me."