No justice for Dawit Isaak, the world’s longest detained journalist

Dawit Isaak
Dawit Isaak

source: Mail & Guardian
published: 13 April 2021

In October 2020 Reporters without Borders filed a complaint with the office of the Swedish prosecutor for international crimes accusing Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki and seven other senior Eritrean officials of a crime against humanity by holding the journalist Dawit Isaak incommunicado since 2001.

The National Unit for International & Organised Crimes, attached to the Swedish prosecutor’s office, said in a decision published on January 12 that it had reasons to believe Swedish-Eritrean journalist Isaak is the victim of a crime against humanity coming under Sweden’s universal jurisdiction. But it refused to open an investigation on the grounds that it would be difficult to carry out in the absence of any cooperation by the Eritrean authorities.

“The Rule of Law and the primacy of fundamental rights are at the heart of prosecutorial functions,” reads a sentence from the Guidelines for Prosecutors on Cases of Crimes Against Journalists adopted by Unesco and the International Association of Prosecutors last December.

Yet it rings strange when you read the recent decision by a Swedish prosecutor, who suspects crimes against humanity against one of the longest detained journalists in the world. Isaak has been held in Eritrea for almost two decades without ever being tried in court. Yet the Swedish prosecutor decided not to open an investigation of the crime she suspects are being committed against him. We cannot accept the decision and are now appealing to a higher prosecutor.

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