The Financial Newspaper in Norway posted an article on 2% tax that members of the Eritrean diaspora pay to Eritrea. Member of the Norwegian Parliament Bård Vegar Solhjell says that the tax cannot continue. He expects the Norwegian government to take action. The news comes after the Parliament in the Netherlands passed a motion to push for investigation of the tax in the Netherlands and other EU member states.
Estimations are that around 20.000 Eritreans in Norway are paying the 2% tax. A rising number of Eritrean Norwegians refuse to pay, but there are strong repercussions and even threats involved. For example, property and inheritance rights are dependent on paying the tax. Family in Eritrea may also be targeted.
The Norwegian media reports that there is no legal basis for the taxation of Eritreans in Norway. However, so far, nothing has been done to prevent it.
Politician Solhjell identifies three steps for the government to take:
- Investigation of the involvement of Eritrean organisations in passport issuance.
- Investigation of organizations that receive Norwegian support, yet are involved in the collection of taxes from the Eritrean diaspora.
- Cooperation with other European member states on these issues.
The Norwegian media points out that the European Parliament has been very clear on the topic of the diaspora tax: it is in violation of the Geneva Convention. In addition, the European Parliament strongly condemned the intimidation of critics of the Eritrean regime. The Parliamentarians also worried that the taxes could be used to finance military operations by the Eritrean government.
Norwegian International Law expert Kjetil Tronvoll says that sanctions need to be implemented in national legislation. There are currently UN sanctions against Eritrea for financing of terrorism. The tax is a possible source of finance for terrorism. Tronvoll also points out that other countries such as Canada have actively prohibited the 2% tax.