Eritrea's leaders, including the country's president, have committed "gross human rights violations" that may constitute crimes against humanity, a United Nations commission reported on Monday.
A year-long inquiry by the UN panel concludes that Eritrea is a "totalitarian state" that monitors citizens through a security network that penetrates all levels of society.
“Information gathered through the pervasive control system is used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety,” the 500-page report says. “It is not law that rules Eritreans – but fear.”
The government is guilty of widespread human rights abuses, and "there is no accountability for them, the enjoyment of rights and freedoms are severely curtailed in an overall context of a total lack of rule of law."
The commission also finds that "violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labour may constitute crimes against humanity.
The commission says the main perpetrators of these violations include the Eritrean Defence Forces, the Eritrean Police Forces, the ruling party, the office of the president, and the president, as well as three ministries.
Severe repression, including forced labour and arbitrary imprisonment, has caused hundreds of thousands of Eritreans to flee their country, the report says. The UN refugee agency placed the number of Eritreans outside the country and under its concern at more than 350,000 in mid-2014.
Hundreds of Eritreans are believed to have died while trying to seek refuge in other countries.