Free Dawit Isaak !
Dear President Afeworki,
In September 2001, your regime arrested 11 journalists and shut down all independent media outlets in Eritrea for good. Those detained included Dawit Isaak, the editor of the newspaper Setit, a journalist with Swedish and Eritrean dual nationality.
Since then, Isaak has never been charged with anything, he has not been brought before a judge and he has not had access to a lawyer. But he is still being held.
Reporters Without Borders has information indicating that seven of the journalists arrested at the same time as Isaak in September 2001 have since died in detention. Contrary to your government’s claims, we have no proof that Isaak is still alive. The most recent proof was the 2010 account of a former prison guard, who described Isaak as being kept handcuffed, isolated and exposed to terrible heat.
If Isaak is still alive, as you say, he is in danger of dying in prison, like his colleagues.
In the past, your government told the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights that your judicial system was independent and capable of trying Isaak. You also said that the legal principles prevailing in Eritrea protected against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. Nonetheless, neither Isaak nor any of the other imprisoned journalists have ever been brought before a court.
We are not trying to meddle. We are not self-righteous westerners. We are simply asking you to respect your country’s own laws and principles.
Action is urgently needed so that Dawit Isaak and all the other journalists detained in Eritrea can be freed.