News last week signaling what might be the beginning of the end of mass forced conscript labor in Eritrea is an unprecedented, if uncertain, development. This system, which leaves the majority of the population indefinitely trapped, sometimes in the private economy, puts any company investing in the country at considerable risk of being complicit in slavery.
Tell investors that Eritrea is not yet a country to do business with. It is welcome news that the latest batch of military recruits are said to have been told that their service will not exceed 18 months.Butno official announcement has been made confirming any change in policy, let alone any sign of sweeping changes necessary to transition away from the Eritrean government’s reliance on forced labor of conscripts. As relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia thaw, change is possible – the conflict was the basis of the Eritrean government’s justification of indefinite leave. However, that journey is likely to be long and our partner Eritrea Focus warns us “not to allow the joy to cloud our judgement.” The same warning must be heeded by investors.
Freedom United launched its campaign on Eritrea in November 2016. We are calling on investors to sell their holdings in Nevsun Resources, a Canadian company that runs the Bisha mine, and is facing court proceedings for its alleged role in benefitting from the forced conscript labor regime.
Join our call – foreign companies and investors should not be profiting from, and thereby supporting, a state system that exploits Eritrea's citizens on a mass scale.
Joanna, Miriam and the whole team at Freedom United