US government: “Eritrean military and police officers are complicit in trafficking crimes”

Eritrea is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor. To a lesser extent, Eritrean adults and children are subjected to sex and labor trafficking abroad. The government continues to be complicit in trafficking through the implementation of national policies and mandatory programs amounting to forced labor within the country, which cause many citizens to flee the country and subsequently increases their vulnerability to trafficking abroad. Proclamation 82 of 1995 requires persons aged 18 to 40 years to perform compulsory active national service for a period of 18 months – six months of military training followed by 12 months of active military and development tasks in military forces in a government-run work unit, including the Eritrean Defense Forces. However, the 18-month timeframe is arbitrary and unenforced; many individuals are not demobilized from government work units after their mandatory period of service but rather forced to serve indefinitely under threats of detention, torture, or familial reprisal. In 2012, the government instituted a compulsory citizen militia, requiring medically fit adults up to age 70 not currently in the military to carry firearms and attend military training or participate in national development programs, such as soil and water conservation projects. Working conditions are often harsh and sometimes involve physical abuse.

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