The Swiss Ministry of Immigration sent a delegation to Eritrea to conclude whether returning Eritreans will face punishment after leaving Eritrea to avoid military service.
Switzerland hosts the largest population of Eritreans in Europe and the delegation’s findings were similar to those found by delegations from Britain and Denmark, published earlier this year.
According to the report, draft evaders who left the country and checked in with their respective embassies by paying a tax of two percent of their earnings while away, could return to Eritrea without facing penalties. Those who left the country for more than 3 years are not required to complete mandatory service.
The report details that draft evaders who did return under duress did not face more than several months in prison and then returned to active duty. These findings were similar to those of British delegation which published its findings last month. The Swiss delegation also met with evaders from Israel who returned to Eritrea independently and report that they faced no consequences.
Additionally, many Eritreans complete alternate national service. Women are exempt from service after the age of 27 or after they give birth. There are also many Eritreans today that manage to avoid service altogether. According to the report, even if, in the past, the country had harsh consequences for evading service, today, the Eritrean government is much more forgiving.
Yonatan Yaakovovich from the Israel Immigration Policy Center stated that, “We are pleased to see that leading European countries are declaring that returning Eritreans will not face harm upon return. This is a positive development for the country and for Israel, as Eritrea is the country of origin for many asylum seekers in Israel.”