Eritrea: National Service

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the Government of Eritrea on abolishing indefinite servitude in the form of national service in line with the findings and recommendations of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The UK continues to call for reform of Eritrea's use of a system of indefinite national service. Whilst the Government of Eritrea has justified this service on grounds of the security threat posed by Ethiopia and has talked about the need for reform, we have yet to see any concrete proposal following the July 2018 peace agreement. At the 44th session of the Human Rights Council in July 2020, the UK renewed calls for Eritrea to reform the national service system. The Home Office International Director raised national service reform with Eritrean ministers during her visit in February 2020.

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