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State Department 2013 Human Trafficking Report on Eritrea (Tier 3)

State Department 2013 Human Trafficking Report on Eritrea (Tier 3):Worst Ranking for 5 Consecutive Years Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, and to a lesser extent, sex and

State Department 2013 Human Trafficking Report on Eritrea (Tier 3):Worst Ranking for 5 Consecutive Years

Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor, and to a lesser extent, sex and labor trafficking abroad. During the reporting period, tens of thousands of persons fled the nation, many to escape conditions that amounted to forced labor through exploitative circumstances in the government’s mandatory national service program. Under the Proclamation of National Service (No. 82/1995), persons aged 18 to 50 years had the obligation of performing national service. For persons aged 18 to 40, this obligation consisted of six months of military training and 12 months of active duty military service, for a total of 18 months; persons over 40 were considered to be on reserve status if they had performed active duty service. An emergency situation declared in 1998, as a result of a border war with Ethiopia, remained in effect during the year, with the result that despite the 18-month limit on active duty national service under the 1995 Proclamation, many conscripts were not demobilized from the military as scheduled and some were forced to serve indefinitely under threats of detention, torture, or punishment of their families. Persons performing national service could not resign from their jobs or take new employment, generally received no promotions or salary increases, and could not leave the country legally because they were denied passports or exit visas. Those conscripted into the Eritrean military performed standard patrols and border-monitoring, in addition to public works projects such as agricultural terracing, road maintenance, and laying of power lines. Working conditions were often harsh and sometimes involved physical abuse. There were reports that some Eritrean conscripts were forced to build private homes for army officers, perform agricultural labor on farms owned by the ruling party, or work in privately-owned mines; functions that fall outside the scope of the proclamation. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Education continued Mahtot, a national program in which secondary-school children engage in public works projects including anti-litter campaigns and building school furniture. All 12th-grade students, including some younger than 18, completed their final year of education at the Sawa military and educational camp; those who refused could not receive high school graduation certificates, go on to higher education, or be offered some types of jobs. The first six months consisted of military training prior to military service. In 2012, the government instituted a compulsory citizen militia, requiring persons not already in the military or being trained at Sawa, including many who had been demobilized or exempted from military service in the past, to carry firearms and attend military training. Eritrean children worked in various economic sectors, including domestic service, street vending, small-scale manufacturing, garages, bicycle repair shops, tea and coffee shops, metal workshops, and agriculture; some may be subjected to forced labor. There were reports that children were exploited in the sex trade in Asmara.

Some Eritreans fleeing national service or migrating for other reasons became victims of forced labor, primarily domestic servitude, in Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, or other Gulf countries. Smaller numbers of Eritrean women and girls were subjected to sex trafficking inside the country, as well as in South Sudan, Sudan, and Gulf countries. The government’s strict exit control procedures and limited issuance of passports and exit visas effectively obliged those who wished to travel abroad to do so clandestinely, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking. During the reporting period, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Eritreans escaped to refugee camps in eastern Sudan each month. Additionally, there were at least 62,000 Eritreans, including 1,000 unaccompanied minors, in refugee camps inside Ethiopia, and smaller but increasing numbers of Eritrean refugees in Djibouti and Yemen. A significant number of fleeing Eritreans encountered serious risks of being shot and killed by Eritrean, Egyptian, or Libyan authorities or forcibly repatriated to Eritrea, where they were often detained without charge by the Eritrean government, or recalled into national service. Adolescent children who attempted to leave Eritrea were sometimes detained or forced to undergo military training despite being younger than the minimum service age of 18.

International smugglers and traffickers sought out vulnerable Eritreans in refugee camps, particularly in Sudan, sometimes extorting money from them or torturing them as they were transported through the Sinai Peninsula. Over the reporting period, there were numerous reports of Eritrean nationals being brutalized by smugglers operating in the Sinai; victims were chained together, whipped and beaten regularly, deprived of food, raped, and forced to do construction work at gunpoint at smugglers’ personal homes. Eritrean military officers sometimes colluded with Sudanese or Ethiopian military officers to exploit Eritrean migrants. Eritrean military officers sometimes operated within Sudan to abduct refugees from camps, particularly those who voiced criticism of the Eritrean government or were prominent political or military figures.

The Government of Eritrea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The Eritrean government did not operate transparently, nor did it publish data or statistics regarding efforts to combat human trafficking. Although the government acknowledged the existence of a trafficking problem, including sending a letter seeking assistance of the UN Secretary-General, and warning its citizens of the dangers that traffickers posed, authorities largely lacked understanding of human trafficking, conflating it with all forms of transnational migration from Eritrea. The government rejected responsibility for creating circumstances that drove its citizens to flee the country.

Recommendations for Eritrea:

Develop and enforce a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute that includes prohibitions against forced labor, differentiating between illegal migration and human trafficking; conduct campaigns to increase the general public’s awareness of human trafficking at the local, regional, and national levels; enforce existing limits on the length of national service to 18 months and cease the use of threats and physical punishment for non-compliance; extend existing labor protections to persons performing national service and other mandatory citizen duties; investigate allegations of conscripts being forced to perform duties beyond the scope of the national service program and prosecute and punish, as appropriate, those who subjected recruits to exploitative labor; ensure that children who are sent to Sawa, the military school, do not participate in activities that amount to military service; cooperate with UN agencies to combat trafficking, and allow international NGOs to operate in the country, including helping to combat trafficking; institute trafficking awareness training for diplomats posted overseas; with assistance from international organizations, provide training to all levels of government, particularly law enforcement officials, on identifying and responding to trafficking crimes; in partnership with NGOs or religious entities, ensure the provision of short-term protective services to child trafficking victims; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


The Government of Eritrea did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers during the year. Article 605 of the Eritrean Transitional Criminal Code prohibits trafficking in women and young persons for sexual exploitation, which is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, or from three to 10 years’ imprisonment if aggravating circumstances are present; these penalties are sufficiently stringent, but not commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 565 prohibits enslavement and prescribes punishment of five to 20 years’ imprisonment, penalties which are sufficiently stringent. Forced labor and slavery are prohibited except where authorized by law under Article 16 of the ratified, but suspended, Eritrean Constitution; Article 17 of the 2001 Labor Proclamation specifically excludes activities performed under national service or other civic obligations from the definition of forced labor. Existing labor protections limiting hours of work and prohibiting harsh conditions did not apply to persons engaged in national service. Proclamation 11/199 prohibits the recruitment of children younger than 18 years of age into the armed forces. The penalties are sufficiently stringent, though the government does not appear to have used these statutes to prosecute cases of human trafficking. During the year, an unknown number of Eritrean citizens alleged to be traffickers were returned from Uganda. The government did not behave in a transparent or consistent manner regarding information about prosecutions or punishments of these or other suspected trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Nor was the government transparent regarding any investigations or prosecutions of government officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking. The government did not provide information regarding training it might have offered to its law enforcement officials on identifying and responding to trafficking crimes.


The local Eritrean media reported government efforts to repatriate women and girls exploited abroad in domestic servitude or sex trafficking. The government identified an unknown number of those trafficking victims and sought their assistance in the investigation of trafficking-related crimes, but did not provide information on how it cared for them after their repatriation. No international NGOs operated in Eritrea during the reporting period. During the year, the National Security Agency assumed additional responsibilities related to combating trafficking, but individual cases of transnational human trafficking were reportedly handled by the Eritrean Embassy in the country of destination; information regarding efforts made by Eritrea’s diplomatic missions to assist trafficking victims was not available, and some victims reported that Eritrean Embassies abroad charged extra passport processing fees to victims lacking documentation. Whether the government trained its diplomatic officials in identifying and responding to trafficking situations involving Eritreans overseas was not known. The government did not have procedures in place to identify trafficking victims among migrants deported or forcibly removed by Eritrean security forces from neighboring countries; these individuals, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, often faced detention in Eritrea.


The government made its first-ever efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period, though it tended to regard all transnational migration as “human trafficking.” The government acknowledged the problem of its citizens becoming victims of “human trafficking” and began issuing warnings about the hazards they sometimes faced when attempting to migrate abroad. Warnings issued by government-sponsored organizations such as the Youth Association, Women’s Association, and Workers’ Federation incorporated information about the dangers of “trafficking” into their regular programming. In a letter dated February 2013, the president of Eritrea asked the UN Secretary-General for UN assistance “to launch an independent and transparent investigation” into human trafficking as it affects Eritrea. The government did not take steps to decrease migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking, such as facilitating legal short- or long-term migration abroad. The Ministry of Labor was responsible for investigating cases of forced labor, but it lacked adequate capacity to carry out this mandate and its efforts in this regard during the reporting period were limited. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, the government arrested an unspecified number of clients of the country’s sex trade during the year. Eritrea is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Source: US State Department

Youtube Video: Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at the Release of the Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

Review overview
  • Eri_HmaKat June 23, 2013

    When I read an article like this one it makes me hate being an Eritrean. So many useless people, including yours truly, by being manipulated by a demented psychotic dictator and his minions. I read yesterday that the Syrian refugees are returning en mass to fight their brutal dictator until they are victorious. That is courage, focused struggle. Eritrean are like a bunch of foxes either too enamored with Western life style including the so called Diaspora, would be refugees living in squalid environment, and the professional so called opposition Hodge-podge groups who constantly make spurious declaration ‘their meetings concluded successfully bAwet Tezazimu”. Eritrean society does not have a strong civil society and the mistaken goal of using passive peaceful resistance against the cruel dictator is laughable. The dictator is heartened by the meek resistance he is facing within and without Eritrea. An armed struggle is the only way and after victory prevent manipulative individuals like the dictator from taking helm of power.For good or worse a democratic form of government with all its ups and downs will be the only way. Currently, we simply don’t know how to wedge peaceful resistance as our country is too backward to have a well organized civil society resistance that will be a threat to the dictator.

    • Eritrea Super Power June 23, 2013

      Syrians are going back to fight their goverment ,including many of them from european universities, I guess they do not have a weyane to fight for them as a neighbour. It is not only western comfort but also Hawassas firfir ,kitfo & night clubs with big eyed Ethiopian women.

  • Kombishtato June 23, 2013

    On the issue of the Human Trafficking Report:

    There are many groups, Eritrean websites and organizations that are silent to the Human Trafficking and genocide against Eritreans in the Arab world that is taking place in Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Egypt as the Higdef regime does, even there are few which report the crimes to the best of their abilities.
    My question is that why are these heinous and evil crimes taking place against innocent Eritreans mainly in the Arab world but not in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan or Israel?
    Why are these crimes taking place only in the Arab world in this large scale against Eritreans and other black Africans?

    ስለምንታይ እዩ እዚ ጭካነ ዝመልኦ ግፍዕታት ኣንጻር መሳኪን ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ሃገራት ዓረብ ማለት ኣብ ሱዳን የመን ሊብያ ግብጺ ብዜጋታት ዓርብ ናብ ኤርትራውያን ዝፍጸም ?
    ብተዛማዲ ኣብ ደቡብ ሱዳን ኡጋንዳ ኬንያ ኣንጎላ እስራኤል ኢትዮጵያ ዝርከቡ ኤርትራውያን ስደተኛታት ብሰላም ይነብሩ፤ ኣብ ሃገራት ዓረብ ግና ባሮት ኮይኖም ከም ጠሌ በጊዕ ይሽየጡ፣ ናውቲ ኣካላቶም ተጎዛዝዩ ይሽየጥ። እወ ኣብ ሃገራት ዓረብጥራይ። ስለመንታይ ?

  • Sahle Yosieph June 23, 2013

    Eritrea Super Power
    You compare only if can learn from it. The lessen you take is to improve the life of the people. What is the gain comparing bad to bad. Except to justified the dictator action. You mention USA yes they have a lot of problem, but it is not stagnant, they take action to resolving them. That’s is the point. Government under the rule of law is people’s government with out the rule of law, the government it became the enemy to the people. You will be rewarded when you became on the side of the people not with abuser. By the way super power is on the side of the people.

  • Truly truly i say to you June 23, 2013

    In deed Eritrea is supper power. if you ask me in what? My answer is by abusing all kind of human rights. Eritrea since is world champion by human right abusing, but since Isayas left un punished, at least like others less cruel his comrades Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi, its reason unless because the state if not be supper power, what else can be its other reason?
    Anyway to the socalled Eritrea is supper power, before thinks self smart, i want to assure him his relativity or comparison as nonsense is a “0” class mentality standard it has. This guy from his craziness he wanted to compare in less than three million population living inside Eritrea seeing crime, with that of a nation with 320 million US population and with 1, 4 billion population inside China seeing crime? What a stupid comparison! Actually shameless Isayas dared criticized the very peaceful society and very democrat nation in the world with 1, 3 billion population India, by relativing with its self called a democratic own administration. It is very saddened big or small crime when it has same name call ” a crime.” as well it saddened to call for instance if Ethiopia built 43, highest university when in PFDJ news also when built in a village a small school, when both nation in news similarity using similar word we built a school. If it be hospitals, road, bridges what ever wherever in what big or small amount built, it saddened all to have similar ward and say we built bridge, schools university etc… in other word a nation like Ethiopia if start building with 83, billion worth Nile dam, and if in Eritrea built in 3, million Nakfa dam it has also same name ” a dam ” Is it not saddened? By such stupid relativity comparison is socalled Eritrea superpower dared to convince us and to justify Isayas´s crime! Typical PFDJ woytos propaganda cadres the using to fool their meek worshipers. What a looser!

    • Genet June 24, 2013

      Well said.
      He (Eritrean super power) is the product of PFDJ’s system. A system of lies,deceive, unbelievable incompetence, delusional schizophrenic and egomaniac. He is a victim of criminal system. He doesn’t allow himself to listen to others. He want to be right all the time, even when the truth is right infornt of him. He has no problem to completely ignore reality. HE IS NOT ALLOWING HIMSELF TO LISTEN TO OTHER’S PRECEPTION. So, he will never leran from himself or others. HE IS A VICTIM OF THE PFDJ SYSTEM,

      • TwoWayStreet June 24, 2013

        Spot on. Starting from “He is a victim….”
        I just don’t want to say your second sentence.

  • Truly, truly i say to you June 24, 2013

    Why is the Good America´s foreign minster Mr. John carry not invited and gives award to our angel Kibrti Meron Estefanos? Those from Mister Carry took award, was it because they worked more harder than Meron Dr. Alganesh or Elsa Cherum? I don´t think so. Is their any nation more than like Eritreans victimizers its human dignity abused by human traffickers? Why Mr. Carry didn´t mention Eritrea at primerly, but choose to criticize his nation at first? In one side i see his honesty humbleness and gentility, but in other side the worst human right abuser Eritrea because not mentioned at first i really disappointed. Please Mr. carry rescue our people and our nation to be free from this wicked dictator Isayas Afeworki hand.

  • ida June 26, 2013

    I think the Obama years were the worst for eritreans. This whole human trafficking started in 2009. All the Obama admn did was talk, talk. When it comes to foreign policy the republicans are better.