The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea says she has written to the Eritrean government, asking to be allowed to visit the country, so that she can assess the situation on the ground.

“I made an appeal for permission when I was speaking before the UN last week, with a representative of the Eritrean government at the meeting,” Ms Keetharuth told me.

Asked whether she thought the authorities in Asmara might allow this, she replied: “I remain hopeful.”

Ms Keetharuth has just been in New York where she presented the findings of the report of the Commission of Enquiry into Human Rights in Eritrea to the Third Committee of the General Assembly.

The Third Committee is the body which deals with questions of social affairs and human rights.

Where next?

Ms Keetharuth says it is vital that the voices of all the victims of human rights abuses, who have suffered from such appalling abuses – including rape, torture and detention – be heard.

“It was a good step forward that I was able to put the Commission’s findings before the UN,” she explained.

“Now it is up to the UN member states to take the matter forward.”

She says there are a variety of avenues that can be pursued, of which reference to the International Criminal Court is just one.

“I have approached the African Union,” she says, “but this is still at a preliminary stage.”

Another possibility is for individual victims to take up the crimes committed against them in any appropriate court. “The findings of the Commission have been made and these can be referred to.”

Ms Keetharuth will make a further report to the UN Human Rights Commission in June 2017.

“I do hope that by then I will be able to report that there has been an improvement in the situation in Eritrea,” she says.