German government critised for denying refugee status for Eritreans fleeing indefinite conscription

Eritrean activists protesting in Germany on International Conscientious Objection Day in 2019 - Copyright: Jürgen Tauras
A protest in Germany in solidarity with Eritrean asylum seekers on International Conscientious Objection Day in 2019. Source: Connection e.V. / Copyright: Jürgen Tauras

PRO ASYL and Connection e.V., both based in Germany, released a report criticising the German government for its record of denying refugee status for asylum seekers from Eritrea. In their report, the organisations detailed the ongoing oppressive practices of the Eritrean regime, despite a peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018. They called on German authorities and courts to provide necessary protection for Eritreans fleeing the oppression and indefinite conscription in Eritrea in accordance with the UNHCR guidelines and Geneva Convention.

PRO ASYL and Connection e.V. report  said

Fewer and fewer asylum seekers from Eritrea receive refugee recognition in Germany. In 2015 the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees … still recognised 95.5% of Eritrean asylum seekers as refugees. In the following years this rate of protection has fallen massively. Increasingly, Eritreans are only granted subsidiary protection, which goes hand in hand with a much less favourable legal status. The number of persons who simply receive a so-called “prohibition on deportation” … or even a refusal of permit altogether has also increased considerably. In 2018, a reduced number of 39.5% of Eritreans received refugee protection, and 49.7% received subsidiary protection.

The report states that this drastic change in decision-making by German authorities cannot be justified, considering there has been no profound change in the political situation in Eritrea:

People are still arbitrarily detained and tortured indefinitely without trial, the constitution is still not implemented and there is no independent judiciary. The so-called national service for men and women is a compulsory military service for an indefinite period and is not even remotely remunerated sufficiently to secure a livelihood. Despite the peace agreement, those in power have so far taken no demonstrable steps to demobilise the National Service or to limit its duration.8 Furthermore, leaving the country without a permit is a criminal offence, which is punishable by imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment.

PRO ASYL and Connection e.V. called on German authorities and courts to recognise Eritreans fleeing indefinite national/military service as refugees following the UNHCR guidelines and Geneva Convention. They also called on the German government to demand unequivocal respect for human rights from the Eritrean government.

Download the report here or read online here.

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