Eritreans in Switzerland come under scrutiny

As a United Nations report accuses Eritrean leaders of crimes against humanity, some Eritreans who have been granted asylum in Switzerland are being accused of illicitly returning home on holiday, possibly with the help of

As a United Nations report accuses Eritrean leaders of crimes against humanity, some Eritreans who have been granted asylum in Switzerland are being accused of illicitly returning home on holiday, possibly with the help of the consulate in Geneva.

On Wednesday UN human rights investigators accused Eritrean leaders of crimes including torture, rape, murder and enslaving up to 400,000 people. They called for the case to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Atrocities had been committed since the country’s independence in 1991 and were continuing, the UN Commission of Inquiry said in a report that was immediately rejected by the Eritrean government.

Eritrea’s poor treatment of its own people has motivated many thousands to flee the country, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

About 20,000 Eritreans live in Switzerland, the largest Eritrean diaspora in the world. In addition, Eritreans make up the largest national group of asylum seekers in Switzerland.

On Tuesday, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga addressed recent reports in various Swiss media that some Eritreans regularly return home for holidays or to visit their families – information seized upon by parties on the right, who talk about a scandalous abuse of the law.

She told parliament, in response to a question on the issue from a member of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, that the State Secretariat for Migration does not have exact figures on this issue, since someone who is recognised in Switzerland as a refugee does not need authorisation to leave the country.

They are not allowed, however, to have contact with the government of their country of origin, let alone return there. If they do so, they risk losing their recognised status as a refugee.

Sommaruga said that “in most cases it wasn’t a question of asylum seekers or refugees [returning to Eritrea] but of Eritrean citizens who had arrived in Switzerland years ago, some of whom had become naturalised [Swiss citizens].”

‘Instrument of propaganda’

This opinion was shared by Veronica Almedom, a member of the Federal Migration Commission who is originally from Eritrea. “They are above all people who fled before independence in 1991 and therefore weren’t victims of persecution by the regime of President Isaias Afwerki,” she told swissinfo.ch.

Almedom thinks the Eritrean government could be organising the visits through its diplomatic representations. The consulate in Geneva is the only institution able to authorise a return to Eritrea by handing out passports and entry visas.

“It’s an instrument of propaganda,” she said. “Eritrea is increasingly the target of international criticism and is doing everything it can to show that in fact the situation in the country is not at all problematic.”

The Eritrean consulate in Geneva did not respond to swissinfo.ch’s questions.

‘Biased’

Presidential adviser Yemane Ghebreab said the UN report was biased and based on false evidence and failed to take into account Eritrea’s achievements and the “continuing state of war” with neighbouring Ethiopia.

The central accusation of crimes against humanity was “laughable”, he said, adding that Eritrea was a “low-crime society” with only one or two rapes a year in a population of almost four million.

“Crimes in general are very rare in Eritrea. Anyone who has been to Eritrea will tell you that this is the case,” he said.

However, the report said visitors should not be fooled by the “general sense of calm and order” in the capital Asmara, because abuses were carried out in military training camps and detention centres.

“The facade of calm and normality that is apparent to the occasional visitor to the country, and others confined to sections of the capital, belies the consistent patterns of serious human rights violations,” it added.

Eritrea’s government did not allow the inquiry team to visit the country, although its diplomats met the investigators at the UN headquarters in New York and in Geneva.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

aseye.asena@gmail.com

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10 COMMENTS
  • Sol June 11, 2016

    The central accusation of crimes against humanity was “laughable”, he said, adding that Eritrea was a “low-crime society” with only one or two rapes a year in a population of almost four million.

    Yes Monkey, you are right Eritrea WAS a low crime society but you and your friends in the Animal Farm PFDJ turned this beloved Eritrea to hell whole in the earth.

    • k.tewolde June 11, 2016

      I agree Sol, that was Eritrea of yesteryear,the current one an aberration,calling the accusation ‘laughable’,yes,for those who commit the crimes laughing.Sadistic imbeciles!

      • AHMED SALEH !!! June 12, 2016

        Eritreans always experience crimes perpetuated by government officials
        but ordinary people had been God fearing passive society . Since era of
        occupation most of them hail outside Eritrean origins to find ourselves replaced by homegrown similar elements like ( Issayas , Monkey , Kisha ) kinds trigger happy to take control on entire generation destiny .
        If crime in Eritrea is rare then what for those prisons ? Idiot .

  • sara June 11, 2016

    the crime is always committed by the regime not by individuals therefore, the UN concern is the level of the crime committed by the regime that needs to be addressed.

  • Asghedom June 11, 2016

    it is true the Indian half cast and unteachable in the Indian society , he is joking upon Eritrean blood. Eritreans are always stupid , they forget their brother Zerai Deress, and other Eritrean heroes to believe in these deki sheramut of Abashawel and they they have no idea of their fathers. The mother of the Issay Afewerk should know if he is of Aboy Afewerki or another one.
    we have been cited for several years by these stoppled guys

    • Berhe Tensea June 11, 2016

      You are 100% right.. This Indian wedi tsomakit suwa, is meabeyeu zebedolo, turned to first class criminal.

  • Khalid June 11, 2016

    There regime in Eritrea is fascist.
    A totalitarian system that kills every dissenting voice. They settle differences in opinion any one, by killing, jailing and maiming.
    That is why young people are escaping in all directions, trying to reach a safe place.

  • Berhe Tensea June 11, 2016

    The PFDJ loving Eritrean refugees must be reported to the authorities so that they can be deported and placed in the loving arms of Iseyas and his hit men.
    Here in North America, people are in celebratory and good mood thanks to the Commission of Inquiry.
    The first hurdle towards the arrest of the criminals is passed and we are waiting for their arrest to hear the music.
    Thanks to technology those who will demonstrate in support of the worst criminal in the world will be recorded and asked to account in the future.
    They will regret the day, they were born and hell on earth is going to await them.
    As far as Iseyas monkey was concerned, his defense of the dictator was a complete failure, he was even unable to speak clearly. His replies were childish and stupid. I am sure that the dictator who ordered him what to say is totally disappointed.
    Monkey is going to be insulted and slapped as soon as he set foot in Eritrea and meets Iseyas.
    Revenge time is coming and it will be a bloody one as there will be no mercy to the cruel and rapist generals and securty personnel such as the pathetic Abraha Kassa.
    Death and agony to Iseyas and his coward puppets.
    Deport the foolish and stupid Iseyas supporters who are standing against theirvery own interest.

  • gerimuna June 11, 2016

    what Idiots have become the new leaders in Eritrea after massively jailed the wise and considerate replaced by gullible and opportunists.
    How could the half crazed leader made his disciples like monkey dare to deny the daylight rape, killing and incarnation of Eritreans with all kind of crimes never heard in the land of our forefathers?
    If what they are responding is true, then, we are lead by a bunch of idiots who have failed to discern right from wrong.
    We are led by blinds who would make us believe, “No hear, see or know” or we are led by cruel minions bend to extinct the society simply by hood and wink while mirth behind the scene.
    I think all sincere Eritrean have no choice but rise and erase the cloud that is hovering over us with shivering and quivering threat of annihilation.

  • Genet-orginal June 11, 2016

    “Presidential adviser Yemane Ghebreab said UN report was biased. failed to take into account Eritrea’s achievement” “Eritrea is low -crime society”

    Some people say, This monkey is smarter than the average person. For a smart Monkey, he is just a dumb-ass. Or this monkey is trying to get out of the heinous crime he committed against the Eritrean people for more than 40 years. This shameful monkey hasn’t done drinking the Eritreans peoples blood. What kind of “achievement” is worth torturing the Eritrean people after independence? Why were those worthless reporters didn’t challenge this vampire? He doesn’t know the Eritrean society. This murderer SOB, does he knows that he brought killing to our society. He and his boss made our peaceful country a killing filed. Now, it is judgement day. Nobody gets away taking thousands of lives. It is time for judgement day!!!

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