According to a press release from earlier this month, Eritreans in the United Kingdom have filed a criminal complaint with police against Asmara’s ambassador in London over the ongoing efforts to force them to pay the diaspora tax:
Members of the Eritrean community in the UK have laid criminal charges against the Eritrean Ambassador to London. This is in line with the written instructions given by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [see below]. These required members of the Eritrean community to “report any use of coercion of other illicit means to collect the tax to the police.”
Acting on this advice, members of the Eritrean community went to the West End central police station last night and filed a criminal complaint. This illegal tax collection is a clear violation of the assurance given by the Ambassador to the Foreign Office on 25th October 2013 that the tax collection had ended.
The UK supported to a resolution in the UN Security Council in 2011, which outlawed the tax collection. Despite this the illicit collection has continued and this incident is no isolated case. In February 2014 we provided the government with secretly filmed video evidence of the tax being extracted in the London embassy.
This follows similar action three years ago by Eritreans in Stockholm, which led to suggestions in the Riksdag to pass laws banning the collection of the diaspora tax in Sweden. Two years ago, Ottawa also expelled the Eritrean Consul-General in Toronto for similar reasons.
However, in a newly-released document on the handling of asylum applications by Eritrean illegal emigrants, the Home Office did its best to downplay the persecution, following the example of the U.S. State Department before them:
1.3.6 Although use of the money raised through the Diaspora tax is subject to United Nations Security Resolutions (see UNSCRs in the country information section), for states to levy a tax on its citizens overseas is not in itself persecutory, providing it is not at a punitive level or levied in a discriminatory way.
1.3.7 Therefore, provided the request is made without threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means, payment of the levy is not considered to be persecutory.
1.3.8 Consequently, the guidance outlined in MO above should no longer be followed and failure of a person to comply with a reasonable request to pay Diaspora tax would not, in itself, give rise to a well-founded fear of persecution or serious harm.
1.3.9 Those who are unable or unwilling to pay the tax would not be issued with a travel document. However, this would not place them at risk of mistreatment or harm that amounts to persecution.
Update, 26 March: The Home Office, in claiming that Eritreans no longer faced persecution, relied heavily on the Danish Immigration Service’ 2014 Fact-Finding Mission Report:
The Danish FFM Report also indicates that a person is able to return to Eritrea legally provided they pay the Diaspora tax and sign a “letter of apology” at an Eritrean embassy. This includes those who evaded or deserted National Service. Once this has been done, a passport application can be made (see Penalties for Leaving Illegally and Treatment on Return and Diaspora Tax in the country information section).
However, two Danish officials who participated in that fact-finding mission disagreed so strongly with the contents of the report that they resigned in protest, according to a report last week by Caperi:
The report triggered an internal rift within Denmark’s Immigration Service, because the two key officials disagreed with the head of the fact finding mission, Jakob Dam Glynstrup over the report’s findings and conclusion.
According to Danish daily newspaper Berlingske, senior consultant Jens Weise Olsen and special consultant Jan Olsen have been released from their jobs, in what is formally being called a voluntary resignation.
They are resigning from the Danish Immigration Service after a long negotiation between the service and the trade union Dansk Magisterforening, which is representing the officials.
@Mark Twain: Hope the USGov doesn’t get any ideas over this. At this point I am cynical enough to believe that the US would be broke and desperate enough to revoke passports of expats in an attempt to force them back onto the “plantation”.
On the Interactive Investor website (www.iii.co.uk), I pretended to be an Eritrean citizen who was born in Eritrea and was interested in opening an investment account. Result? Accepted.
Then, I pretended to be a British citizen who was born in the United States and was interested in opening an investment account. Result? An automated response…
“You have entered details which would classify you as a US Person. Unfortunately, our service does not extend to US Persons. We regret that we are unable to accept your application.”
So, British nationals born in the United States and resident in Britain are unable to open an investment account with a British stockbroker. This is a blatantly disgusting double standard.
Even the Eritrean Embassy in DC is tweeting about FATCA & the published expatriates list
Eric that tweet needs to be on the front page of. Ibs
Also tepublicans overseas might like it
@Eric @George I’ve taken a screenshot of the Eritrean Embassy’s tweet and retweeted the screenshot with colour commentary!
The Swiss federal police “Fedpol” has launched an investigation of the Eritrean Embassy in Switzerland. The Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger reports today:
“The Eritrean regime apparently tries to collect a so-called “Diaspora Tax” from its citzens living abroad. Corresponding reports from Eritreans in Switzerland have now led to Fedpol investigating against the Eritrean embassy in Switzerland. A spokeswoman for the Swiss Federal administration confirmed this yesterday in the Swiss television news programm “Rundschau”.”
Around 90% of the 23’000 Eritreans in Switzerland are on social welfare. This means that the Eritrean diaspora tax is mostly paid by Swiss taxpayers.
The Swiss Radio SRF “Rendez-vous” program interviewed the head of Fedpol (Swiss Federal Police) today regarding the investigation of the Eritrean Embassy in Switzerland. These were key points:
1) The Swiss government does not object to Eritrea’s right to collect taxes from its citizens in Switzerland.
2) It does object to any “sovereign” activities by Eritrea within Switzerland to collect taxes from its citizens without specific permission from the Swiss government. Eritrea does not have this permission.
3) Fedpol is also investigating whether the Ertriean Embassy in Geneva has used coercion or threats to collect taxes from its citizens.
4) Fedpol is hampered by Eritreans refusal to make statements to the police regarding the Eritrean Embassy’ actions (although they have made statements to the press). The Fedpol head believes that this is due to fear of reprisals from their countrymen in Switzerland.
5) Fedpol head hopes to complete the investigation by year-end and give the results to the prosecutor’s office for further action.
Interview at this link:
The Swiss Federal police department (Fedpol) completed its investigation of tax collection practices coordinated from the Eritrean embassy in Geneva and filed charged with the Swiss justice department. . As the Eritrean tax enforcers may have diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution, considerable difficulties are expected to prosecute the case. SRF Radio reported on the latest developments this morning:
The comments to this radio program quickly turn to the fact that the US government engages in extra-territorial taxation of its diaspora.
The New Yorker did a long-form piece on the Eritrean football team. I found this passage rather darkly amusing:
Is anyone aware of this?
Is Zimbabwe about to become the third country to tax its Diaspora? If African dictators follow the American model, then that sums up the sorry state of affairs in America. Ridiculous…
Pity it’s not Kenya, then Mr O would be in for a dose of his own medicine.
I had no idea Zimbabwe has been toying with the idea of CBT. Even though the country’s diaspora is primarily of a ‘conflict-induced’ nature, there may be other parallels the US diaspora can use in our arguments against CBT.
Zimbabwe for the most part let the door hit their diaspora’s backsides until it realized it could/should tap into their remittances. Unlike the US however, some third-world countries are trying to see the value in engaging with its diaspora, even if it’s to pretend to listen to them before taxing them.
“I wonder why it has taken the government three and half decades to realise that policy for this critical demography was necessary. One of the reasons is that the government’s indolent mind, the Diaspora only have one function; to remit their hard earnings to Zimbabwe and shut up.”
Diaspora taxation appears to be getting fashionable for African governments. Mr O may indeed become a victim of his own success…
“Zimbabwe for the most part let the door hit their diaspora’s backsides until it realized it could/should tap into their remittances.”
Agreed, though taxing remittances would eventually force the Diaspora to seek alternative methods of payment. Consequently, passport revocation may become an option to extort funds (e.g. Eritrea, the United States). Afterwards, the harassment of family or perhaps the sequestration of property… one thing will always lead to the next. We know that allowing the free flow of remittances brings some financial lifeblood into a poor country, helping to keep the living standards of homeland Zimbabweans at some sort of acceptable level. Unfortunately, Mugabe and his regime are too thick and obstinate to understand this.
I posted this on another IBS thread, but thought it should also go on one of the threads dedicated to Eritrea. It also mentions (briefly) US extraterritorial CBT.
‘The 2% Tax for Eritreans in the diaspora
Facts, figures and experiences in seven European
by DSP-groep Amsterdam, Tilburg School of Humanities, Department of Culture Studies
ranslation of the letter
the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Eritrean diaspora
tax in Europe report
The original Dutch letter can be found here:
To: Chair of the second chamber of the Dutch Parliament
Date: 18 September 2017
Subject: Eritrean diaspora tax in Europe
see this interesting comment;
The context of international law
The report mentions reports of the ‘Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group’
(SEMG) and Resolutions of the UN Security Council, the African Union, the EU and the advice of the
Dutch government’s advisor on international public law (Extern Volkenrechtelijke Adviseur)
In all of these reports
and statements, it is explicitly stated that the levying of a diaspora tax is allowed in principle
under international law, but that levying of the tax can only take place without coercion or
Correction of broken link above
This is where I found the letters
New study confirms concerns over Eritrean diaspora tax in Europe
by K. Smits September 20, 2017
The US doesn’t use coercion or intimidation to collect US tax from USCs living outside the US; which seems to me to invalidate the analogy.