The Dutch Council of State’s Administrative Jurisdiction Division, the country’s highest general administrative court, ruled on 20 July that Eritreans in the military sector of the national service are at risk of inhuman treatment. This ruling impacts how future Eritrean asylum claims will be treated. The case was started by an Eritrean man whose initial claim was rejected. The man feared he would have to enter the military part of the national service, if he would be returned.
A Dutch Foundation of Eritrean refugees, Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans, has filed a lawsuit in the Amsterdam court against the European Union (EU) for its role in financing a road building project in Eritrea that uses forced labor. The Foundation, together with their Dutch Lawyer Emiel Jurjens, demand the EU stops the 80 million euro support to Eritrea. While the European Commission acknowledges that the funded project entails labour from Eritrea’s indefinite and forced national service, in direct violation of EU’s fundamental principles and international law, it deflects blame by claiming that the EU is not paying directly for labor itself but rather for the equipment. Besides the use of forced labor, the EU has no direct oversight or proper monitoring scheme to safeguard the Eritrean national conscripts forced to work on the project or ability monitor how the money is spent. The EU has already pledged 80 million and is looking to spend an additional 120 million on subsequent phases. The lawsuit enters uncharted legal territory in a complex web of jurisdiction and accountability.
In 2015, Dutch Professor Mirjam van Reisen (Tilburg University, Leiden University) was interviewed by Dutch radio station BNR nieuwsradio about the news that people with ties to the Eritrean regime were employed as interpreters at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In response to her statements in this interview, the (by now former) chair of the YPFDJ in the Netherlands, the youth department of the Eritrean regime in the Netherlands, started a court case (interim injunction proceedings) against Van Reisen. She won the proceedings, upon which an appeal was started. The court has decided this week to dismiss the case and has ruled that the judge of the interim injuction proceedings had correctly dismissed all claims against Van Reisen.