government: presidential republic
state of civil and political rights: Not free
constitution: a transitional constitution, decreed on 19 May 1993, was replaced by a new constitution adopted on 23 May 1997, but not yet implemented
legal system: mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic religious law
legislative system: unicameral National Assembly
judicial system: Supreme Court; Regional, subregional, and village courts
religion: Muslim, Coptic Christian, Roman Catholic, Protestant
year of last executions: 0-0-1993
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
The Constitution, at Article 15 on the ‘Right to Life and Liberty’ states that: “(1) No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law; (2) No person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.” Article 16 (2) states: “No person shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Murder and acts threatening state security are crimes punishable by death. However, the Eritrean legal system favours out-of-court settlements, whereby if the parties reach an agreement (usually economic), the judge can commute a death sentence to a prison term.
Since its independence in 1993, there are no reports of judicial executions carried out in Eritrea.
In 2016, no death sentences have been recorded, as in 2017.
The death penalty on women
Pregnant women cannot be executed, and a sentence of death is commuted to life imprisonment. This conforms with Eritrea’s international obligations as party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits such executions.
Also women with a child under the age of 3 cannot be executed and a death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. This conforms with Eritrea’s international obligations as a party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits the execution of nursing mothers.
On December 16, 2020, for the fourth time, Eritrea voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly. Previously it had always abstained on the Resolution.