News Highlights: Eritrea slave labour lawsuit in Canada, Israel crackdown on refugees, Libya slave market video

In this week’s news highlights: the court case against Canadian mining company Nevsun for use of forced labour and mistreatment in Eritrea can move ahead; Eritrean refugees protest in Ethiopia refugee camp; Israel takes plans to deport or imprison Sudanese and Eritrean refugees to the next level; Africa Monitors reports on fate of deported Eritreans; video of Libyan slave markets sparks outrage; and the African Union and European Union prepare for the third AU-EU summit next week.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Modern slavery claim can move forward in Canadian court
A Canadian appeal court rejected the attempt of Canadian mining company Nevsun to dismiss the claim of forced labour and mistreatment against it. Nevsun claimed that the case should be heard in Eritrea, but this was rejected by the Justice due to the lack of prospects for fair – or any – trial in Eritrea.  The court allowed the claims of crimes against humanity, slavery, forced labour, and torture against Nevsun mining company. Nevsun started working on Eritrean soil back in 2007 and the lawsuit was filed in 2014. With this ruling, the trial can move forward. The article below states that it is the first time that a Canadian appellate court has recognised that a corporation can be taken to trial for alleged violations of international law norms related to human rights”.

Ethiopia: Eritrean refugees protest against the regime in Hitsats camp
Videos from the Hitsats refugee camp in Ethiopia show Eritrean refugees protesting against the Eritrean regime. The protesters join a movement that includes the rally of Eritreans in Addis Ababa last week and all the other protests that occurred this month all over the world in support of the Akria protest in Asmara, Eritrea, on 31 October.

Eritrea and Sudan: Situation for refugees in Israel deteriorates
A proposal made by Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan raised concern among UNHCR people and human rights defenders. The proposal would condemn Eritreans and Sudanese asylum seekers and refugees to accept relocation in other African countries or face imprisonment in Israel. Once the deported people arrive in Rwanda and Uganda, their documents are taken and they have no protection. As journalist Martin Plaut writes “The plan is the latest iteration of a programme designed to expel the vast majority of Africans seeking asylum in Israel. The Israelis refuse to consider them refugees – instead terming them “infiltrators”. Rwanda will reportedly be paid $5,000 per refugee”.

Eritrea: refugees refouled from Sudan are imprisoned in their homeland
An article published by Africa Monitors reports on the alleged  destiny of Eritrean refugees  once they are deported back to Eritrea. The short statement, translated from Tigrinya, states that Eritrean authorities divide refouled people in different categories in order to imprison them in different locations, depending on their background.

Somalia: Parliament says government broke international law by handing over a political refugee to Ethiopia
A parliamentary body in Somalia tasked with investigating the transferral of Abdikarin Sheikh Muse of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) to Ethiopia has concluded that the action was illegal. The report stated that “the Somali government has forcefully transferred a political refugee to Ethiopia which is known to torture and humiliate its opponents. It has been intimated that Mr. Abdikarin was sacrificed in order to get political support from the Ethiopian regime”.


European Union: looking ahead to the 5th EU-AU summit in Abidjan
The fifth summit between the European Union and the African Union will take place next week in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. This is seen by the European Council as “a key moment and opportunity to strengthen political and economic ties between the two continents”. The summit takes place every three years. This year’s main theme is “Investing in the youth for a sustainable future”. Migration will be a key theme on the agenda.

European Parliament: High-level conference toward a renewed partnership between Europe and Africa
On October 22nd, the European Parliament hosted the ‘High-level conference toward a  renewed partnership with Africa’. The conference was opened by EU parliament’s president Antonio Tajani and saw the participation of high-level politicians from both continents. In his opening speech the president of the parliament encouraged ‘Europe to see African problems and opportunities with African eyes’. The videos of slave markets in Libya were a hotly debated topic, with some speakers lamenting the fact that this information was known before the videos, yet little was done to stop it.