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Press Release Eritrea Focus v United Kingdom: Eritrean Road Project Legal Challenge

Eritrean Road Project Legal Challenge Duncan Lewis’ Public Law Team, instructed by Eritrea Focus, are launching a legal challenge against the UK Government’s funding to the EU Trust Fund for Africa's ‘Reconnecting Eritrea and Ethiopia

Eritrean Road Project Legal Challenge Duncan Lewis’ Public Law Team, instructed by Eritrea Focus, are launching a legal challenge against the UK Government’s funding to the EU Trust Fund for Africa’s ‘Reconnecting Eritrea and Ethiopia through rehabilitation of the main arterial roads in Eritrea’ development project in Eritrea, which uses conscripts from the Eritrean National Service.

Review overview
  • rezen May 14, 2020

    With utmost trepidation, I can’t help having the urge to ask simple questions
    Wouldn’t the admirable effort of ERITREA FOCUS be focused on the immediate,, basic, problem of Eritrea? Shouldn’t we concentrate on the removal of the obstacle and indeed on the daily destroyer of Eritrea and Eritreans? Shouldn’t that be the the URGENT and PRIMARY CONCERN of Eritreans?

    WE all know that Eritrea is being DESTROYED by the DAY; and Eritreans are vacating their beloved and beautiful birthplace, with tears and grieves, in search for peace and opportunity to LIVE as Human Beings Shouldn’t Eritreans concentrate on LIBERATING ERITREA from its GLARING ENEMY? Didn’t Eritreans sacrifice their LIFE– in 30-year war — to secure freedom, dignity and democratic way of Life? Is there a SINGLE alternative of Action that the attainment LIBERTY??
    A cardinal question gnaws at us every second of time even though we deeply know the reason for our procrastinate from taking action to arrive a what we tooted every day!!!!!. I must STOP here, lest I slip onto our hidden parochial characteristic for the procrastination to get together and be FREE. THE END

  • Habte Hagos May 14, 2020

    Dear brother Rezen,

    As a joint author of the Press Release, I want to say I concur with every word you write – indeed I feel a little emotional reading it. I exactly understand where you are coming from and fully accept a legal action in London is not going to solve our problem in Eritrea. But every little helps. We simply cannot sit down and do nothing when our people are humiliated, oppressed, enslaved, tortured and even killed day in and day out.

    What I am sure of is that if we all do our little bits, we will solve our problem. Remember our martyrs did not liberate our country from Ethiopian oppression overnight – it sadly took a long and bloody 30 years. May they rest in peace..

    • k.tewolde May 14, 2020

      (((Remember our martyrs did not liberate our country from Ethiopian oppression overnight – it sadly took a long and bloody 30 years.)))>>> I wholeheartedly concur dearest brother Habte ,they engaged the enemy despite his enormous superiority up-close and personal,not from a safe distance with all the goodies life can offer coupled by a generation completely emasculated from their fighting instinct and have no honor and respect of that 30 yrs long sacrifice,it is a formidable enemy who knows us better than us and made by us,he is eating us alive from within like a malignant aggressive cancer with no cure in sight.Legal action against a third party is like a palliative care to sooth the victim. Why are we punching the referee while the opponent is in front of us?

  • Woldegabriel May 14, 2020

    Selamat Eritrean Focus,
    I appreciate your initiative to fight the defunct regime through all means possible. Before I give my opinion on this regard, let me confess two things; first I haven’t read the full text of your appeal because I couldn’t access it in my phone; second, I am not from the legal profession so whatever I am trying to convey may not be legally correct or sufficient cause for rebuttal. All the same, I am leaving the decision for your discretion.
    The main thrust of your appeal is rightly based on conscription from the national service. That is sufficient enough to demand stopping the fund. I strongly believe, however, there is sinister political motive that need to be interrogated in your appeal/ challenge.
    Is this road rehabilitation/ construction really intended for the benefit of the Eritrean people? Does it have any economic or social justification or is it a political action intended to subjugate the Eritrean people? What is the impact ofthe road to the socio- economic well being of the people?Is this project a continuation of the decades- long suffocating the people to submission?
    From the outset, it may appear that the project would create the necessary link with the Ethiopian market and bring about economic benefits to both countries. But, it is vital to genuinely interrogate the facts on the ground.
    – just one month after the signing of the 2018 Eth-Eritrea agreement, the borders of the two countries was unilaterally closed by the Eritrean defunct regime and remains closed to- date. This is a stark contradiction that reveals the true motives of the project.
    – The intended road rehabilitation project is not from Asmara ( the economic and political hub of the country) to Ethiopia, but from the port city of Massawa to Ethiopia. It thus caters Ethiopian interest not Eritrea’ s. Which genuine government on earth embarks on a huge loan to pursue other country’ s interest more than its own? ( motive?)
    – On the other hand, the Assab- Addis road, which caters over 90% of Ethiopia’s import and export, unlike the Massawa-Mekele road which serves less than 10% of Ethiopia’ s needs, still remains idle and close? Why? What is the rational for such contradiction?
    – The shortest road distance from Eritrea to Mekele is through Adikuala rather than Senaefe. And typographically, the road to the latter is quite mountainous and very expensive to build. Moreover, economically and population wise the former impacts massively to the local economy. Hence, the project is not based on its economic and social benefit but political expediency. ( motive)
    – Since 2001, the defunct regime has been systematically destroying all physical and human infrastructure of the country and continues to do so. Is this project really a priority rather than rehabilitation and rebuilding the nation from poverty and gross mismanagement of the economy? ( motive)
    – The legitimacy and legality of the government to undertake such a huge loan in the name of the Eritrean people should be properly interrogated?
    These are my general views. If it has any legal relevance,your legal experts could do more elaboration and legal tuning.

    • Habte Hagos May 15, 2020

      Dear brother Woldegabriel,

      Firstly, thank you for the constructive and engaging commentary – much appreciated. If after reading the Press Release you wish to make additional comments you are of course more than welcome and you will be able to find our contact details therein.

      Without prejudice to the case in hand, I wish to clarify the twin aims of the Eritrea Focus v United Kingdom legal challenge:

      1. To halt the UK from directly or indirectly funding the road rehabilitation project in Eritrea forthwith. The UK 2015 Modern Slavery Act specifically prohibits such funding and hence it is, in our view, unlawful for the UK Government to do so. Furthermore, it is inconsistent with the UK stated aim to remove slavery from its supply chain by 2030; and

      2. To seek compensation for former and current workers on the project under UK and international law, including the 1929 International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention. In some ways this will mirror the Nevsun lawsuit in Canada which has been going on for some years with the Supreme Court there expected to give its ruling soon.

      It is regrettable we have been forced to take such unprecedented action. But the relentless and never-ending enslavement of our people by the regime in Asmara leaves us with no other option. Our martyrs did not liberate our country from Ethiopian oppression to be oppressed by their own people in manners beyond description. Wherever we may be, we have a duty of care for our people to help them live free from slavery and to enjoy a normal and ordinary life in their own homeland for which so much life was lost to liberate. Is that too much an ask?

  • Almaz May 14, 2020

    What a timing. What can I say simply shocking! A contempt on the innocent. This project help Eritrea not the club in power.

    • Eyobel May 17, 2020

      I couldn’t agree more sister Almaz
      and so right to hell with the opportunist oppositions.

      • Petros Tesfagherghis May 19, 2020

        Hi Eyoel

        Are you suggesting that the members of National Service should work without pay.. To force people to work without pay is illegal. Those people have families – old parents and they want to live a decent life and make their own family and not risk leave Eritrea. . No one is against road construction but they should pay for the labourers.. That is way the courts in Holland and Britain have accepted the hearing. to take place in European courts. . You have no sympathy for the pains and suffering of the youth in Eritrea.. You are talking from your comfort zone in the West..

  • Petros Tesfagherghis May 16, 2020

    Dear Almaz.: In what .way does this project .that legitimise slave the people of Eritrea. .
    The road is to connect the Ethio-Eritrean border so Ethiopia can use the port of Massawa. This is supposed to be in support of the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. For heaven’s sake dear Almaz there is no peace dividend for the people of Eritrea. Repression continued unabated. Even the hope to end indefinite national service that destroyed the future of the Eritrean youth is not ended. The EU unashamedly has become a complicit by funding the construction which uses slaver labour. These peace is between two leaders Abiy and Isaias for them the life of the people of Eritrea does not matter. Let them die in the Mediterranean Sea, get tortured in Libya and turned into beggars in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government has changed policy not to accept refugees from Eritrea. To sue the EU and the British Government part of the contributor before the Brexit is legitimate. It is a bold move with an impact you may not be aware of. It is a stepping stone to more action oriented “Advocacy Campaign” to exposed the repressive regime.. For those who are saying Eritrea Focus must do more.. It will with your support. It is even better to do more in collaboration with other Eritrean organisations particularly the Yiakle movement.

  • Almaz May 16, 2020

    Dear Petros,
    Call me a pan-African, for me if my Ethiopian brothers/sisters benefit all benefit. My stand on the “slave labor” is different from how you perceive or ponder. Sure, I like to see the government (I would say more the people down chain of leadership) halt abusing the National service participants or those who are not a member of the service but are call regular by the local chiefs to the so-called work. When it comes to this, local chiefs and local military commanders are a blemish to HGDEF. As what the Eritrean benefit from the peace, sorry for those expecting tangible evidence. For me, there is a lot. I can give you one tiny example I fly Ethiopian to Addis [stop-by visit friends and family] one benefit fly to Asmara to visit my mother. This is because cancer who do not like Eritrean is exhumed and dump to scrapyard (Mekele.) These are the people who abused and deported ME-MYSELF-ME and my family. I was born and live my adult life in Addis. I thanks the TPLF is for letting me know my country; that is it. You might ask how I end up in West; thanks for the scenario created I was able to leave Asmara almost right away. One thing for sure, regardless of European money, the road is going to be complete, my understanding is already more than 60% is completed.

    • Danilo May 20, 2020

      እቲ ቀደም’ሲ ፡ ሓደ ንጉስ እየ ዝብል ዶጉዓታይ ብሓደ መንገዲ ይሓልፍ ነበረ’ሞ እቶም የማነ ጸጋም ዝነበሩ ዓዲታት ክግብሩ ይሕተቱ።ግን እምቢ ስለ ዝበሉ ዓድታቶም ይቃጸል።እዚ ማለት፡ ኣብ ክንዲ ናይ ይሕለፍ ” ሞቆጫ -ርግጫ ” እምበር፡ ኣነ ዘይመላለሰላ መገዲ መንገደይ ድያ ፡ እቲ ኣነ ዘይ ሕምብሰሉ’ኸ ባሕረይ ድዩ እንትርፊ ባርያ ዝኾነሉ ? መልሲ ናባኹም!።