Eritrea has hit out at critics of the recent policy of seizing and shutting all Catholic-run health centres.
The UN’s special rapporteur on Eritrea, Daniela Kravetz, said the act showed that “the human rights situation in Eritrea remains unchanged”.
The Eritrean government said her conclusion was based on “erroneous assertions”.
A statement on the ministry of information’s website says that as a secular country no religion or adherent gets preferential treatment.
As a result “religious institutions are not allowed to actually conduct developmental activities in areas of their choice as this is fraught with discrimination against non-adherents of the specific institution in question”.
Therefore, the government says, all “religious institutions [were required] to transfer operational authority of clinics” to the ministry of health.
In other words the government was following the law.
Earlier this month, Eritrea’s Roman Catholic Church condemned the government in the one-party state for the seizure.
The Church ran 22 health centres, and their closure is likely to leave thousands of people, mostly mothers and their children in rural areas, without healthcare, BBC Tigrinya’s Teklemariam Bekit said.
But the government has defended its record on health championing its “enormous investment” in citizens’ health.