General News

Eritreans 'sue EU over forced labour project'

Date: May 14, 2020

Eritrean human rights activists have sued the European Union (EU) and asked it to stop funding a $86m scheme that they say relies on forced labour, the Reuters news agency reports.

The Netherlands-based foundation Human Rights for Eritreans (FHRE) filed the lawsuit in an Amsterdam court on Wednesday.

They say the EU failed to carry out due diligence on a road-building project that connects the Ethiopia-Eritrea border to the Eritrean port of Massawa.

The group's lawyers say some of the labourers in the project belong to Eritrea's national service, which they argue was condemned for forced labour and slavery by the United Nations and European Parliament, Reuters reports.

Human Rights Watch last year also condemned the national service for subjecting conscripts "to inhuman and degrading punishment, including torture".

Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane Ghebremeskel is quoted as saying that “the accusations emanate from a very small but vocal group, mostly foreigners who have an agenda of ‘regime change’ against Eritrea”.

The EU, which last year denied the accusations, has said in its response to the suit that its actions are guided by democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity and international law.


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