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Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and prostitution

Tigrai Online January 2, 2015

Eritrea is a source country for forced labor and prostitution in Africa

Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor domestically, and to a lesser extent, forced prostitution and labor abroad. Tens of thousands of persons continue to flee the country, many escaping the government’s mandatory national service program. Under the Proclamation of National Service (No. 82/1995), persons aged 18 to 50 years must perform national service.

For persons aged 18 to 40 years, this consists of six months of military training and 12 months of service in a government-run work unit, including the Eritrean Defense Forces, for a total of 18 months; persons over 40 are considered to be on reserve status if they have performed active duty service.

The emergency situation declared in 1998 as a result of a border war with Ethiopia remained in effect during the year. Despite the 18-month limit on active duty national service under the 1995 proclamation, many persons are not demobilized from government work units as scheduled after their mandatory periods of service ended, and some are forced to serve indefinitely in the military under threats of detention, torture, or punishment of their families. Persons performing national service are prohibited from resigning from their jobs or taking new employment, generally receive no promotions or salary increases, and often cannot leave the country legally because they are denied passports or exit visas. Those performing national service in the Eritrean military carry out standard patrols and border-monitoring, in addition to public works projects such as agricultural terracing, road maintenance, and laying power lines.

Working conditions are often harsh and sometimes involve physical abuse. In the past, 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.

Source U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 Please read the whole report here


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