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Eritrea21 May 2008

Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise

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Reporters Without Borders today released a report on the career of Naizghi Kiflu, an adviser to the president of one of the world’s most repressive countries and currently its local government minister, who as information minister supervised the round-ups of government opponents and pro-reform journalists in September 2001.

According to a former ruling party member interviewed by Reporters Without Borders, Naizghi did the government’s “dirty work” for more than 30 years. Yet nowadays he lives in London, has a permit to reside indefinitely in Britain, and receives treatment for a chronic condition free of charge at a public hospital.

The report explains that, as a result of an Eritrean human rights activist’s complaint, the British police have since 2005 been carrying out a politically-charged investigation into allegations that he was responsible for torture. But the evidence gathered so far has been deemed insufficient to take him to court.

The report contains hitherto unpublished revelations by Naizghi’s victims and former subordinates. It also explains how the Eritrean government uses the country’s diaspora to maintain its control over the population.

Reporters Without Borders believes that the fact that one of the regime’s barons and a key figure in its repressive system is living in Europe despite his continuing political activities raises questions for democratic governments that are supposed protect the political refugees to whom it grants asylum.

The report concludes with recommendations for the European Union and countries with a sizable Eritrean exile population. Aside from demanding the release of political prisoners, Reporters Without Borders thinks the least that the EU and leading democracies can do is to refuse to issue visas to members of the Eritrean government and other leading Eritrean officials until the repression ends.



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