Enslaved by their Own Government: Indefinite National Service in Eritrea

Cite as: Palacios-Arapiles, S. (2023). Enslaved by their Own Government: Indefinite National Service in Eritrea. In: Van Reisen, M., Mawere M., Smits, K., & Wirtz, M. (eds), Enslaved Trapped and Trafficked in Digital Black Holes: Human Trafficking Trajectories to Libya. Bamenda, Cameroon: Langaa RPC

71 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2023

See all articles by Sara Palacios Arapiles

Sara Palacios Arapiles

University of Nottingham; Comillas Pontifical University

Date Written: January 2023

Abstract

Eritreans are currently forcefully conscripted into national service, which is indefinite and requires them to engage in tasks that are beyond a ‘purely military character’. These include economic development activities, work for private companies and even domestic work for their superiors, for which they receive little or no pay. Deserting or evading national service is heavily punished and refugees describe being tortured and detained in inhumane conditions. The control exercised over conscripts deprives them of their individual liberty and autonomy, leaving many in a state of ‘false consciousness’, even years after having left Eritrea. This enables the government to exercise 'powers attaching to the right of ownership’ over them. This chapter finds that this level of control constitutes slavery under international law.

Keywords: Eritrea, National Service, Slavery, Control, Refugees

Suggested Citation

Palacios Arapiles, Sara, Enslaved by their Own Government: Indefinite National Service in Eritrea (January 2023). Cite as: Palacios-Arapiles, S. (2023). Enslaved by their Own Government: Indefinite National Service in Eritrea. In: Van Reisen, M., Mawere M., Smits, K., & Wirtz, M. (eds), Enslaved Trapped and Trafficked in Digital Black Holes: Human Trafficking Trajectories to Libya. Bamenda, Cameroon: Langaa RPC, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4335096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4335096

Sara Palacios Arapiles (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Comillas Pontifical University ( email )

Alberto Aguilera 21
Madrid, Madrid 28015
Spain

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