(Geneva 24-06-2016) Eritrean anti slavery campaigners, opposed to the forced and indefinite national service today said that they are confident change is coming to Eritrea. The campaigners, from Stop Slavery in Eritrea Campaign, who completed a week long lobbying mission in Geneva during the 32nd session of the UNHRC have been lobbying on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Eritreans who have been enslaved by the Eritrean regime, illegally forcing every young person from the age of 17 onwards to be forcefully recruited into the national service indefinitely and extracting their labour forcedly for hard labour including agricultural and building projected for companies owned by the ruling regime.

Central to the weeklong campaign was a  peaceful march, attended by close to 12,000 Eritreans organised by the Campaign Group together with colleagues from many Eritrean groups, also campaigning for justice in their native Eritrea. 

The mission was organised to coincide with the presentation of a report  from a UN human rights inquiry into Eritrea, that found crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in Eritrea. The report recommended that the case be referred to the UN Security council for referral to the International Criminal Court.  In addition to the enslavement of some 400,000 people, the report also uncovered a catalogue of crimes, including: imprisonment, enforced disappearance, persecution, rape, murder, torture, and other inhumane acts taking place in detention facilities, military facilities and other locations inside Eritrea since 1991.

In her statement to the UNHRC on behalf of the Stop Slavery Campaign Veronica Almedom urged the Government of Eritrea to put an end to the system of indefinite and mandatory national service, and to allow for conscientious objection, in accordance with international law, and provide for and grant exemptions from national service for reasons relating to freedom of thought, conscience, disability or religion.

Similarly in her statement to the Council, fellow campaigner Selam Kidane stated: ‘Despite the abject nature of these crimes the response from the regime [in Eritrea] has been total dismissal, we therefore support the recommendations of the COI including the recommendation of referral to the ICC, from our perspectives, the essence here is to ensure accountability for the violations taking place by ending the culture of impunity and consequently improving respect for human rights in Eritrea’.



1.    The COIE was set up two years ago to investigate crimes against humanity in Eritrea and presented its findings on the 8th of June 2016.

2.    Stop Slavery in Eritrea is a campaign group against the forced indefinite national service in the country.  The Campaign Group is made up of former recruits and their supporters .

3.    For further information please contact For more information please contact Zara Tewelde Berhan on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Phone +44 7793469862