Action: Stop the Slavery in Eritrea Picture gallery of the action for the International Day of Conscientious Objection

ባርነት ኣብ ኤርትራ የብቅዕ

Demonstration train - © Copyright: Jürgen Tauras

(17.05.2019) We would like to present to you on behalf of the International Day of Conscientious Objection (May 15) as a representative for the European Commission in Germany a petition of the undersigned organizations.

In April of this year, we became aware of a project by the European Union aimed at promoting infrastructure in Eritrea. It trades under the title “Reconnecting Eritrea and Ethiopia through rehabilitation of the main arterial road in Eritrea” (Project T05-EUTF-HOA-ER-66). ( )

With the project, the European Union is providing € 20 million to the Red Sea Trading Corporation (RSTC), which is owned by the Eritrean government. We are very concerned that conscripts of the National Service will be deployed as part of this project. The project description states: “The labor used by the construction companies wants to consist of three types of personnel: permanent government professionals; those in national service; and those mobilized from the local community on a cash-for-work basis. “

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea described national service as “slavery” and sees the nature of military service as a “crime against humanity” ( -Will-crime committed against-the-humanity-). The European Parliament called it “forced labor” and “a form of slavery”. On March 28, 2019, in the Concluding Observations on Eritrea in the absence of its initial report, the United Nations Human Rights Committee wrote: “The Committee is concerned that the length of the national service, which is, initially stipulated by the National Service Proclamation No. 82/1995 for the period of 18 months, has been extended by a mandatory national service program called the ‘Warsai Yikealo Development Campaign’ for an indefinite period. (…) It is also concerned about allegations that national service conscripts are deployed for labor in various posts, including mining and construction plants owned by private companies, while receiving no or very little salary. “(

The reference in the project description of the European Union that “the (Eritrean) Government has indicated that the National Service will start to take place when it has been created,” so-called incremental demobilization “, can not justify the use of conscripts in this regard to be part of this project. In fact, despite repeated hints, the Eritrean government has taken no action to demobilize soldiers, some of whom have been on duty for over 10 years. In Eritrea, military service, still referred to as national service, is still unrestricted. Men and women are usually not dismissed from the military, but instead used in military operations. You are still in a military employment there and receive only a miserable pay. In the military, the superiors have absolute authority, which they exercise with arbitrariness and torture. Women are often exposed to sexual assault, including rape. ( ), The Global Slavery Index ‘indicates for 2018 that in Eritrea 451,000 people are subject to these conditions, almost 10% of the population. ( )

In a response to a parliamentary question, the Federal Government wrote on April 25, 2019: “In general, the Federal Government communicates the clear expectation that German companies comply with the standards of good corporate governance in their economic activities abroad, as described in the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises as well as in the National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This includes in particular the prohibition of forced labor, as laid down in Convention No. 29 of the International Labor Organization of 1930 on forced or compulsory labor and the Supplementary Protocol of 2014. “( btd / 19/098 / 1909806.pdf) The fact that the European Commission deviates from this standard is completely incomprehensible to us.

On the occasion of the International Day of Conscientious Objection, which since 1986 has highlighted the fate of men and women who are being subjected to repression, detention and torture because of their conscientious objection in various countries, we are looking to the situation in Eritrea this year.

We therefore call on the European Commission to immediately stop project T05-EUTF-HOA-ER-66. The subsidy subsidizes a dictatorial regime as the EU funds go directly to the central procurement authority of the Eritrean government. Conscripts whose employment relationship is slavery should be used. There are no assurances from the Eritrean government on human rights.

We call on the European Commission to stop working with the Eritrean regime under the circumstances. Eritrea is a country without a rule of law and without respect for human rights. The 1997 Constitution was never put into effect. Torture is widespread. There is no independent judiciary, no parliament, no elections. All of this was stated by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in the March 2019 Concluding Observations. So far, there has been no attempt by the Eritrean regime under Isayas Afewerki to guarantee democracy and human rights and to implement constitutional standards in this regard.

We call on the European Commission to ensure that Eritrean refugees have unrestricted access to asylum procedures in order to claim the necessary asylum rights protection. This also includes ending the policy of isolation against refugees, which is causing thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean.

We call on the European Commission to make an unequivocal statement to the Eritrean government about respect for human rights . This includes the release of all conscientious objectors and political prisoners. This includes effective and sustainable measures to guarantee democracy and human rights.

We also call on the European Commission to promote organizations and initiatives of the Eritrean diaspora , which are working in various ways to promote human rights and the implementation of democracy in Eritrea. This would also send a clear political signal to the Eritrean government.

For further questions please contact us at office (at) or 069 82 37 55 34.


Connection eV (Rudi Friedrich, 069 82 37 55 34, )

Eritrean Association for Democracy, Culture and Learning from each other (Dr. Kessete Awet, 0152 34 191 202 and Temelso Ghebreyesus Melese and Tewodros Tsige)


Pax Christi Group Bonn (Armin Lauven, 0228 31 42 87)

German Peace Society – United War Resisters (DFG-VK) Group Bonn-Rhein-Sieg and National Association of North Rhine-Westphalia (Joachim Schramm, 0231 81 80 32)

Petition by Connection eV, Eritrean Association for Democracy, Culture and Learning from each other, United4Eritrea, Pax Christi Group Bonn and German Peace Association – United War Resisters (DFG-VK) Bonn-Rhein-Sieg Group and North Rhine-Westphalia Regional Council, Representation of the European Commission presented in Germany on 17 May 2019


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