SwitzerlandFlash 90

A Swiss court has ruled that Eritrean immigrants may be deported back to their country of origin, even if they face being drafted into military service in Eritrea.

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court ruled that the deportation of asylum seekers whose application was rejected is "both legal and reasonable."

The decision was made in response to an Eritrean's appeal against the decision to deport him, which was submitted on the grounds that he would be forced to enlist in national service if he was returned to Eritrea. It is another legal blow to Eritreans whose asylum requests have been rejected after the court ruled last August that Eritrean migrants who had left the country after completing national service could be forcibly removed because there was no general danger in Eritrea.

The court examined the argument that military service in Eritrea constitutes a form of forced servitude. It found that military service in Eritrea lasted an average of 5 to 10 years and that there were reports of abuse within the army.

However, the court stated that although conditions in the Eritrean military service were difficult, they were not so severe as to prohibit the deportation of Eritreans to their country.

About 9,400 Eritreans have temporary residency permits in Switzerland

While the ruling does not directly impact the roughly 27,000 Eritrean illegal immigrants living in Israel - who are the largest group of illegal immigrants who crossed into Israel illegally prior to the construction of the fence on the Israel-Egypt border in 2012-2013 - it could influence future rulings regarding the deportation of Eritrean nationals from Israel.

In 2017, the Supreme Court blocked a deportation plan passed by the Knesset. This spring, the court froze a similar plan, aimed at deporting thousands of illegal immigrants to third-party countries, widely believed to be Rwanda and Uganda.