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Bemnet Sues Canadian Company for Compensation over Forced Labour

Elias Tesfaye

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Canadian Company

Some citizens in Eritrea, aging below 20 years, have become subjects of forced and cheap labor in some well-to-do companies based in Eritrea. The victims are collected from schools and colleges and recruited as workers without their consent or that of the parents.

Students taken from classrooms

A case in point is Bemnet Negash who was forcefully taken from school together with his classmates on February 2006. He was at his 20’s and the oldest among his fellow classmates. After the abduction by unidentified government officials, Bemnet and his colleagues were taken to a military training camp. Bemnet’s father tried to reach out to his son to give him some money but it wasn’t possible.

Victims confined in Eritrean national service

The next five years saw Bemnet and his classmates strive and toil in the Eritrean national service constituted in 1990. Their service earned little pay which was tantamount to slavery. According to United Nations, the service offered in this military camp was nothing less than forced labour.

Bemnet added that while in the camp, he worked both for the Eritrean national service and a Canadian company headquartered in Canada. He was among the people who built a mine for Nevsun Resources. Luckily, Bemnet escaped from slavery in 2011 and launched a court complain in a Canadian court last year. The company might be forced to compensate the employees once the court determines the hearing in favor of the litigants.

Number of immigrants doubles five times

In addition, the Eritrean government is faced with the challenge of perpetual emigration in spite of heavy investments by the foreign companies. The number of people immigrating to other countries is said to increase five times that which was immigrating in 2008. According to Eurostat, about 45,000 Eritreans had applied for immigration in 2015.

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