Swiss Federal Administrative Court rules on returns of Eritreans in case of conscription to national service upon return

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On 10 July 2018, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court ruled on case E-5022/2017 regarding the return to Eritrea of Eritrean nationals who had their asylum application rejected in Switzerland, in case of forced conscription to the national service upon return.

The Federal Administrative Court noted, based on numerous reports, that all male and female Eritrean citizens must join the national service as a general principle, which includes completing an initial training period that can last up to six months before being assigned to military or civil national service. The length of service for conscripts is hardly predictable and varies between five and ten years on average. The reports also inform that living conditions during the initial basic training and during military and national service are harsh, and that cases of abuse and sexual assault during basic training and military national service have been reported.

However, while recognising that the conditions faced by Eritreans with regard to conscription to the national service are harsh, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court concludes that this is not sufficient to prevent returns to that country. In its view, the conditions do not amount to forced labour, which would prohibit the return under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court also advances that the abuse and sexual assault are not sufficiently widespread to have any bearing on this assessment, and that there is no general risk of detention or inhumane treatment upon return.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. You can find a summary of this decision in English at the website of the Swiss Federal Administrative Tribunal here.


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