17 January 2018 – The Dutch Government has declared the head of the Eritrean embassy office in The Hague ‘persona non grata’ and has demanded his immediate departure. The decision followed a motion issued by the Dutch parliament to close the Eritrean embassy. The decision for dismissal was made after reports of the intimidation and coercion, especially connected to the collection of the 2% Eritrean diaspora tax, stirred political and societal unrest in the Netherlands. In addition, the Dutch government was shocked by evidence of coercion to pay the tax and to sign a ‘regret form’ recorded by Dutch radio programme Argos.
In this week’s news highlights: new study published on 2% diaspora tax for Eritreans in Europe confirming reports of coercion and threat; German charity denies Italian allegations that its rescue ship has had contact with Libyan smugglers; European Parliament delegation visits Tunisia to discuss about current situation of migrants and refugees; BCC launches websites for Eritrean and Ethiopian audiences; Ethiopian ethnic crisis may escalate as officials point fingers at each other; Eritrean people remember the day in which the government crackdown of 2001.
A new report, commissioned by the Dutch government, has been published on the 2% tax that is paid by Eritreans in the diaspora. The study covered seven European countries, researching the legality, modalities and perception of the diaspora tax, as well as the role of the Eritrean government in its collection. The report shows that the legal basis for the diaspora tax, as well as the goals and the collection process, are unclear and inconsistent. In addition, the tax collection is perceived as mandatory by many Eritreans, and non-compliance with payments can lead to consequences such as denial of consular services, punishment of family members in Eritrea. The reported use of coercion and intimidation make the collection of the diaspora tax potentially illegal in its application. The Dutch government deems the ways in which the tax are collected ‘unacceptable’ and lists a range of steps it will take to challenge it.