Excrept from Human Rights Overview: Eritrea
January 2004

Forced National Service

All Eritreans between the ages of eighteen and forty-five must perform two years of compulsory national service. In practice, however, the time for service is repeatedly prolonged. There are frequent sweeps to round up evaders. Beginning in 2003, school students must complete their last year of schooling at the military training camp at Sawa, in western Eritrea. The commander of the facility said the students are considered members of the Eritrean Defense Forces. The government sometimes uses national service as retribution for perceived criticism of government policies. An Eritrean reporting for the Voice of America (VOA) had his press credentials withdrawn on July 8, 2003, and was sent to Sawa for national service after he cast doubt on the government's reports that family members had "celebrated" when the government finally released the name of war dead almost three years after the end of hostilities. VOA claimed that the reporter had previously completed national service and was exempt from further call-up for medical reasons.

Copyright 2006, Human Rights Watch

Forced conscription