Daniel Mekonnen
Daniel Mekonnen

Dr. Daniel R. Mekonnen is an Eritrean human rights practitioner and scholar. An avid proponent of “cause lawyering,” he has been actively involved for the last 15 years in exposing gross human rights violations committed by the Eritrean Government, by which reason he finds himself in exile. With a proven track record on academic publications and policy-oriented outputs, he has also lectured in different European universities, and currently he is a Guest Writer at the “Writers in Exile Programme” of the Swiss German PEN Centre (DeutschSchweizer PEN Zentrum – DSPZ) in Luzern, Switzerland.

Daniel earned his primary legal education (LLB) in 1998 from the University of Asmara, Eritrea. His LLM in Human Rights and LLD in Public International Law (with emphasis on Transitional Justice) are from the University of Stellenbosch (2003) and the University of the Free State (2008), respectively. In addition to his successful completion of four post-doctoral fellowships in Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany, he was a Research Fellow at the School of Law in Queen’s University Belfast and a Senior Legal Advisor at the Oslo-based International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI). His most recent book (co-authored with Kjetil Tronvoll) is: The African Garrison State: Human Rights and Political Development in Eritrea (2014).

While in Eritrea, Daniel has served, among other things, as Judge of the Central Zone Provincial Court in Asmara. In a most recent experience, he served as Chairperson of the Coordinating Committee that organized the largest ever mass rally of pro-democracy Eritreans (staged in Geneva), condemning human rights violations in Eritrea. Because of his work in human rights, he has received several death threats in the past. Daniel is also is a founding member of the Eritrean Law Society, the only professional association of Eritrean lawyers currently working from exile.