Information about the enforcement of the 2% Eritrean Diaspora Tax
Joshua Grainger made this Official Information request to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Response to this request is long overdue. By law Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade should have responded by now (details and exceptions). You can complain to the Ombudsman.
From: Joshua Grainger
Dear Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
It is reasonably well established that the Eritrean Government lobbies a 'voluntary' 2% tax on all of their diaspora. It has been alleged that if Eritreans do not pay this tax they risk having their relatives back home harassed, having their property confiscated, not being able to send remittances back to their families, and are not issued further passports. It is also said that this tax is used to fund militant groups in the Horn of Africa, including Al Shabaab. This practice has been condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UNSC Resolution 2023 and has resulted in the expulsion of an Eritrean consul in Canada.
Recently there have been reports in Australia that the Eritrean Consulate in Canberra is enforcing this tax, including on beneficiaries. The Eritrean Consulate in Canberra is also accredited to New Zealand.
I would like to ask under the Official Information Act:
* does the New Zealand Government believe that the Eritrean Government is forcing Eritrean diaspora in New Zealand to pay this 2% tax?
* if they do, what steps is the New Zealand Government taking to prevent the enforcement of this tax?
In order to help me understand some of the background behind this issue and the New Zealand Government's view I would like to request:
* any briefings, papers, advice or other documents on the Eritrean diaspora tax, including any communications with the Eritrean Government or overseas consulates about it
* copies of any complaints that have been received about the Eritrean diaspora tax (with personal details removed as to preserve privacy)
Please feel free to contact me if you wish me to clarify my request.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Dear Joshua Grainger,
Thank you for your OIA request, this email confirms receipt and advises that your request has been sent to the appropriate division for response.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
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For more information about the Eritrean diaspora tax check the UK's Country information report, available here: http://www.refworld.org/docid/523acfcb4....
Notably it is reported that 'no distinction is made between Eritrean nationals living abroad and foreign nationals of Eritrean descent' which means that NZ citizens could be being impacted. It is reported that 'Other measures [to enforce the payment of the tax] include harassment, intimidation and the threat of retribution in Eritrea: individuals who refuse to make payment may have their inheritance rights voided; their family members may be penalized; and they may be subject to detention or denial of an exit visa if they return to Eritrea... diaspora Eritreans who return home for a visit may be delayed or detained if they have not paid the 2 per cent tax. The Eritrean authorities do not distinguish between Eritrean nationals resident abroad and foreign nationals of Eritrean origin. Foreign passport holders may therefore also be denied access to the consular services of their country of citizenship pending resolution of the matter"
For information on the situation in Australia check here: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/...
Notably the Eritrean Consulate website confirms that they enforce the collection of this tax as a pre-requisite for getting a passport (they call it a recovery tax): http://www.ericon.org.au/main/page_consu...
Link to this