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Swedes accuse Eritrean president of torture

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Swedes accuse Eritrean president of torture
11:26 CEST+02:00
Three lawyers have accused Eritrea's president Isaias Afwerki of torture and human rights crimes against Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak.

The three lawyers handling journalist Dawit Isaak's case with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) have reported the Eritrean president to Swedish police for human rights crimes.

"This means that Swedish authorities can intervene and take action against the reported people when they come to Sweden," Jonathan Lundqvist, chairman of Reporters Without Borders, told news agency TT.

The lawyers also filed police reports against three Eritrean ministers and the president's adviser, Yemane Gebreab, who has visited Sweden multiple times. 

The case may be the first time a new Swedish law about crimes against humanity is put into action. The law, which parliament accepted in May and which went into effect on Tuesday, means that a Swedish court can pass judgement on crimes against humanity no matter who the perpetrator is or where the crime took place. 

Isaak fled to Sweden in 1987 during Eritrea's war of succession but returned in 2001 to help shape the media landscape in his recently independent homeland. He was arrested after publishing a series of articles demanding political reforms in the country. 

Swedish-Eritrean Isaak has spent twelve years behind bars in his country of origin, with media campaigns in Sweden have been launched to highlight his plight and demand. 

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The Eritrean ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste Debbas, underlined in January that the Eritrean authorities do not consider Isaak's Swedish nationality important, despite the fact that he was granted citizenship in 1992.

"I don't know everything about every person in jail," he said at the time. "But I can tell you that this guy is Eritrean, not Swedish. When he comes (to Eritrea) and does not follow the country's laws he must be punished."

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