New Eritrean Country Guidance: Antonia Benfield Appears for Appellants

The Upper Tribunal has given new country guidance on Eritrea in the case of MST and others (national service – risk categories) Eritrea CG [2016] UKUT 00443 (IAC) in which Antonia Benfield, of Mansfield Chambers appeared for the appellants along with Stephen Knafler QC and Tassadat Hussain.

Despite policy of the UK Government asserting to the contrary, the Upper Tribunal has established that there has been no significant change in the human rights situation in Eritrea, that it remains a grave concern and that the Eritrean Government continues to subject its people to indefinite military/national service which is often characterized by severely abusive treatment and torture.

In a detailed determination that includes a review of an extensive body of country material, the Upper Tribunal concludes that there is evidence that conditions in Eritrean national service are generally abusive and that the Eritrean Government continues to subject those who have left the country illegally and deserted or evaded national service to persecution and ill-treatment.

The Tribunal importantly expanded upon earlier country guidance to establish that the requirement to undertake military national service including in civilian roles in Eritrea, amounts to forced labour contrary to Article 4(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Tribunal further concluded that Eritrean nationals are not able to avoid persecution by paying a “diaspora tax” to the Eritrean authorities nor by signing a letter of regret for any acts of betrayal to the state.

This is an important determination in securing protection for Eritreans and reconfirms that the large majority will face persecution in the event of return.

The determination is available here.