A prominent Catholic bishop in Eritrea who had been detained without charge since October has been released. Abba Mihretab Stefanos, a parish priest, and Bishop Fikremariam Hagos were both freed.
Their incarceration was not justified by the authorities in any way. The Catholic Church has consistently urged Eritrea to adopt democracy and to remove the country’s one-party system. A modest congregation and the Catholic Archbishop of Asmara gathered to receive the clergy following their release.
Since its 1991 separation from Ethiopia, Eritrea has not had a general election. From that time, President Isaias Afwerki has been in charge. His government has been charged of breaching human rights, notably rights of religion.
The bishop had been imprisoned since 15 October, when he arrived in Asmara, the nation’s capital, following a vacation to Europe. The government closed Catholic-run schools and hospitals in 2019 on the grounds that religious organizations could not manage such facilities.
About 4% of Eritrea’s people identify as Catholic. The church, along with the Eritrean Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, and Sunni Muslim organizations, are the only four religious organizations permitted to function in Eritrea.