UK government downplayed Eritrea human rights abuses to avoid accepting refugees


The British government downplayed the severity of human rights abuses taking place in Eritrea so it could avoid taking in refugees from the African country.

Documents obtained by the Public Law Project show the UK government sent additional aid to the east African country, in exchange for receiving more favourable descriptions on the human rights abuses taking place in Eritrea.


UK actively reduced asylum numbers

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Public Law Project was able to access documents that show government officials travelled to Eritrea in December 2014, with a view to reduce the number of Eritrean refugees being accepted into Britain.

At the time, Britain as accepting more than 85% of asylum claims from Eritrean refugees, which is considered one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. After these meetings took place, the UK was able to reduce the number of Eritrean refugees entering the country to 48% by June 2016.

In cases where appeals were lodged during this period, the Home Office was found to have made the wrong decision 87% of the time. However, the UK government was still able to almost half the number of Eritrean refugees successfully making it into the country.


Youngsters turned away at Calais

the revelations come almost a month after a group of children launched a legal challenge against Home Secretary Amber Rudd, after their applications were refused by the Home Office.

The group of 36 refugees – 16 of whom are from Eritrea – say their applications were unlawfully dealt with by the Home Office. This is the first time children from the Calais camp have taken legal action against the UK government.

Legal proceedings are ongoing and the future of these children, plus many others, remains unsure.


Featured image: By AmirahBreen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


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.