Eritrea is a one party state where no political parties other than the President's People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) are allowed. Although Eritrea is party to the main international human rights instruments, human rights are severely restricted. Human rights defenders face indefinite incommunicado detention without charge or trial. Ill-treatment or torture are common. The right to freedom of association, assembly, expression, and information virtually absent.
Many political activists and people perceived of being critical of the government, including a few former high-ranking state officials, also remain in detention since the 2001 crackdown. Like with the journalists, a large number of them were held incommunicado for long periods and no official information is available on their location and health conditions. There are reports that more than half of them have died in detention.
The harsh restrictions on freedom of expression and association have effectively suppressed independent civil society. All trade unions are government-run, public gatherings are not allowed and NGOs do not exist in the country. The activities of international organisations are also severely restricted.