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The peace deal with Ethiopia has not changed Afwerki's Eritrea

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12.10.2018

After signing an historic peace deal with Ethiopia, and receiving unprecedented levels of positive media coverage, Eritrea applied for a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

With strong support from the likes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), this Horn of Africa country which has repeatedly been classified as "not free" by Freedom House, easily managed to secure an unchallenged slate in the African group's candidate list. This means the upcoming "election" is nothing but a formality and Eritrea will inevitably join the UNHRC at the UN General Assembly's next meeting on October 12.

As a member of the UNHRC, Eritrea will have the right to vote on UN's human rights resolutions, including the ones that are about its own abuses, for a period of three years.

Eritrea's membership will be highly embarrassing for the UNHRC, which claims human rights are "indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing". After all, the organisation itself accused the country of committing "crimes against humanity" as recently as two years ago.

And not much has changed in Eritrea in the past two years. Only last week Human Rights Watch reported that "repressive tactics continue despite changes in Eritrea's diplomatic engagements".

So, as Eritrea prepares to take its place in a top human rights body, let me provide some insight into what the country really looks like today, despite high hopes and optimistic media reports about imminent political changes.

The international community has been waiting for Afwerki to announce the end of the indefinite national service ever since his regime signed a peace deal with Ethiopia on July 9. But three months after the signing of the agreement, Eritreans still have no indication as to when their service will come to an end.

Eritrea introduced an 18-month........

© Al Jazeera