News Highlights: Dutch Professor wins YPFDJ court case, Eritrea after Akria protest, EU discusses migration

In this week’s news highlights: Dutch Professor wins Court appeal against ex-chair of Young PFDJ; a look at Eritrea’s Akria district one month after the protest; UK-Sudan trade deal raises concern; Ethiopian Government spying on diaspora activists through Israeli spyware; EU announces Horn of Africa funding of projects worth 174.4 million; Donald Tusk’s plan on migration described as ‘anti-European’ by EU Commission; EU Council to discuss on migration this week; November Frontex report analyses numbers; Amnesty International firmly opposing EU migration policy regarding Libya.


Professor wins Court appeal on statement about Eritrean youth organisation YPFDJ in radio programme
In 2015, Dutch Professor Mirjam van Reisen (Tilburg University, Leiden University) was interviewed by Dutch radio station BNR nieuwsradio about people with ties to the Eritrean regime being employed as interpreters at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In response to her statements in this interview, the (now former) chair of the YPFDJ in the Netherlands, the youth department of the Eritrean regime in the Netherlands, started legal proceedings (interim injunction proceedings) against Van Reisen. The court ruled in Van Reisen’s favour, upon which Mr. Bahlbi appealed against the decision. The appeal court has now ruled that the judgement of the interim injunction proceedings had been correct in dismissing all claims against Van Reisen.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: A look at the situation one month after the Akria protest
An article published on the Asmarino Independent analyses the situation in Eritrea one month after the Akria protest. Even though the protest had follow-up on a global scale, with supporting rallies taking place all over the world, “activists in Asmara report that the regime in Eritrea continues its relentless, but an unsuccessful campaign of trying to isolate the ‘instigators’ of the Akria uprising in Asmara, using its well-established method of trying to divide the nation across religious and ethnic divides”. Furthermore school classes have been interrupted and people of the Akria district are under strict surveillance.

Sudan: Announced UK-Sudan trade forum raises controversy for British Government
A letter signed by many British members of parliament was delivered on Monday to the foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Through the letter, deep concern over the decision of the Government to start a business partnership with the African country was expressed. In October, for the first time in twenty years, Sudan was removed from the U.S. sanctions list, although it still ranks 170th on Transparency International’s corruption index; only North Korea, South Sudan and Somalia are ranked lower. Maddy Crowther, co-director of the NGO Waging Peace stated: “we abandon our moral credibility if we promote trade with a country recognised as the site of a genocide in the Darfur region, and where conflict continues to this day.”

Ethiopia: Ethiopian government ‘Big Brother Eye’ over activists and journalists
A report written by Bill Marczak, a researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, shows how the Ethiopian Government employed an Israeli spyware system to control activists and dissidents located abroad. Once infected with the spyware the targeted computers were sending all data and information to the Government. The report explains that at least 43 people in 20 different countries – including the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Eritrea – were infected over the course of about a year.


Europe: EU to allocate additional 174.4 million aimed to stabilise the Horn of Africa Region
The EU Commission published a fact sheet announcing that “the Operational Committee of the EU Trust Fund for Africa adopted a new set of 13 programmes worth €174.4 million for the Horn of Africa region.” The Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union stands by refugees and local populations in the Horn of Africa. With today’s new actions worth €174.4 million, we are stepping up our support – to protect vulnerable migrants, to create economic opportunities on the ground and to foster stability in the region.” The EU Commission announced 13 projects that will take place in six African countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Human rights organisations have called for increased transparancy of the trust fund.

Europe: The EU Commission strongly criticises Council President Tusk’s proposal on migration
The EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos openly criticised the EU Council President Donald Tusk after he presented a letter to the EU leaders containing his proposed plan on migration, among others stating that mandatory quotas for resettlement are ineffective. Mr. Avramopoulos described the proposal as “unacceptable” and  “anti-European” adding “it ignores all the work done over the past years and undermines one of the main pillars of the EU project [..] Europe without solidarity cannot exist [..] Tusk’s role should be to defend the European unity and principles.”

Europe: EU Council to discuss migration in Brussels
On 14 and 15 December, the last gathering of the EU Council in 2017 will take place in Brussels. The agenda of the meeting shows that Thursday night will feature the ‘face to face’ dialogue between Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni and the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker over the controversial concept of EU ‘solidarity’ on migration. The Italian prime minister will also have a meeting with the leaders of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia over migration.

Europe: Frontex report shows a decrease of arrivals in Italy and Greece and a rise in Spain
Frontex November report has been released from the agency and it shows a change in distribution. The report examines the four main routes of ‘irregular’ migration to Europe. The balance is a 27% decrease in the number of irregular border crossings compared to November 2016 and an overall decrease of 62% compared to the first 11 months of 2016. The only increase was in Spain, where a number more than three times the figure from a year ago was registered. The worsening situation in Libya may be a reason for the decrease.

North Africa

Libya: Amnesty International openly attacks EU over the Libyan migrants situation
This week Amnesty International published a report titled ‘Libya’s dark web of collusion: Abuses against Europe-Bound refugees and migrants’ which presents an in-depth analysis over the Libyan migration situation and the complicity of Europe in this process.  Especially the policy of containment actuated by many EU States it is strongly criticised. For the occasion Amnesty International Director for Europe John Dalhuisen continued his ‘crusade’ against EU migration policies by stating “European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these abuses”.