Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is seen in Mogadishu, Somalia, on December 13, 2018. CPJ recently called on the Canadian government to sanction senior Eritrean officials. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

CPJ joins call for Canada to impose targeted sanctions on Eritrean officials

The Committee to Protect Journalists yesterday joined 15 other rights organizations, journalists, and human rights experts in a statement calling on the government of Canada to impose targeted sanctions on senior Eritrean officials for human rights abuses, including the 20-year imprisonment of newspaper editor Dawit Isaac and other journalists.

“After two decades, the devastating mistreatment of Dawit [Isaac] remains an emblem of the horrific environment for journalists operating in Eritrea. Dawit and all jailed journalists in the country must be freed and this government’s ongoing crusade to censor or silence its critics must be brought to an end,” CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal, said in the statement, which called Isaac’s detention without charge or trial “effectively an enforced disappearance.”

Canada’s 2017 Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act is part of a global network of legislation known as Magnitsky laws that enable governments to target foreign nationals responsible for or complicit in human rights violations, according to media reports

On September 18, 2001, Eritrea’s government shut down the independent press in the country and proceeded to detain many journalists, including Dawit, most of whom have not been seen since, according to CPJ research. CPJ identified Eritrea as the world’s most-censored country in 2019 and the worst jailer of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.

Read the joint statement here.