HRW: Eritrean high schoolers face abuse, forced labour


Human Rights Watch (HRW) says high school students in Eritrea face forced labour and abuse in the country.

In a report published earlier this month, HRW revealed young Eritrans spend their final year at school at military camps, preparing for the country’s notorious mandatory national service.

Eritrean school children face abuses

“The Eritrean government forcibly channels thousands of young people, some still children, each year into military training even before they finish their schooling,” Human Rights Watch said, summarising its report entitled They Are Making Us into Slaves, Not Educating Us’: How Indefinite Conscription Restricts Young People’s Rights, Access to Education in Eritrea.

Instead of developing a pool of committed, well-trained, career secondary school teachers, the government conscripts teachers, also for indefinite service, giving them no choice about whether, what, or where to teach. These policies have a devastating impact on education and lead many young people to flee the country.

Hopes were raised last year that Eritrea would scrap its mandatory, indefinite national service policy after a peace deal was signed with neighbouring Ethiopia.

Eritrea has claimed in the past that a lengthy border war with Ethiopia required such a policy but the peace means that conflict is no longer a factor.

Early hopes that Eritrea would improve its human rights record following the deal are yet to be realised.

Featured image: Human Rights Watch

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.