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Canada might be shutting down Eritrean consulate in Toronto

Tigrai Online, July 28, 2012

Eritrea is facing increased diplomatic pressure from the Canadian government after a United Nations report published this week said the country has been using its Toronto consulate to force expatriates to pay taxes that help bankroll its military.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is considering “all options,” including shutting down the consulate, and has “called in” Canada’s Eritrean consul to meet with Canadian officials after the criminal allegations appeared in the report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, a senior government official said Thursday.

The report, published online Monday, said the Eritrean consulate in Toronto has been using coercive tactics to impose a 2 per cent income tax on expatriates to help finance the military, a fundraising practice the UN monitoring group says “arguably” violates an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations in 2009.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police assessment included in the UN report found that a “refusal to pay the tax often results in denial of service or threats against, or harassment of, family members still residing in Eritrea, or possible arrest of the individual should they travel to Eritrea without paying the taxes alleged to be owing.”

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox said he could not confirm details of a criminal investigation unless criminal charges are laid, but added that the police force “is concerned about the issue as there exists a potential link with terrorist financing.”

Source: The Star

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