Democracy and rights
Eritrea is an authoritarian one-party state
where no elections have been held since the country's
independence in 1993. All power lies in the hands of
President Isaias Afwerki and his party PFDJ. The
situation for human rights is among the worst in the
world. Political opposition and free media are not
Since the 1990s, Eritrea has developed into one of
the world's worst repressive states. The country has
sometimes been called Africa's North Korea and has been
likened to a concentration camp. The People's Front for
Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) is the only permitted party
and dominates all social functions. Promises of
multi-party rule and general elections have never been
fulfilled. Demands for democracy, freedom of speech or
religious freedom are interpreted by the government as
threats to national security. Open political opposition
exists only among Eritreans abroad.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Eritrea, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
All Eritreans have to perform a combined military and
community service that can be extended for several
years. Many are forced to work long periods without pay,
sometimes for companies owned by high-ranking military
or party elite representatives. Those who try to flee
the country are at risk of being killed or imprisoned.
Persons between the ages of 14 and 50 are not normally
allowed to leave the country. In 2012, a requirement was
introduced that everyone between the ages of 18 and 55
must carry weapons. Anyone who does not retrieve their
weapon is denied food coupons.
Eritrea is also plagued by widespread corruption. In
2019, Transparency International placed the country as
160 out of 180 countries in its index of corruption in
the world (see the full list here). This is about the
same low level as 2017 and 2018.
Freedom of expression and media
For nine years, until 2015, Eritrea was the last of
all countries in the world to be in the Press Freedom
Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders each year.
In 2019 and 2020, the country came third from the end,
with Turkmenistan and North Korea behind (see the full
list here). Independent media does not exist in Eritrea
and the number of imprisoned journalists is believed to
be among the highest in the world, despite the country
In September 2001, the privately owned press that had
begun to emerge after independence was crushed. At that
time, all eight newspapers were forced to close in
private ownership, even those considered to be loyal to
the government. The newspapers were said to threaten the
security of the nation. Among the many journalists
arrested were the Swedish Eritrean Dawit Isaak. None of
the journalists has been released, or received any
trial. They are kept in secret, completely cut off from
the outside world. According to credible sources, they
have been subjected to torture and several of them are
believed to have died in captivity.
The regime has continued to arrest many journalists
since 2001. It is often unknown what happened to them
afterwards. Those working for the state media have to
reproduce the official propaganda, or prepare to be
arrested or flee the country. Foreign journalists are
Few Eritreans have internet access. Web sites from
abroad are often blocked by the regime.
Judicial system and legal security
Formally, the judicial system should be independent,
but in reality it is completely controlled by the
regime. In addition to the usual judicial system, there
are military courts and special courts. In all cases, it
is common for judges to be ex-military, without legal
The special courts have raised particular criticism,
since they do not even have on the paper rules that meet
the requirements of legal certainty. Most criminal cases
are tried in the specialized courts. Prisoners are kept
isolated from the outside world for long periods of
time, trials are conducted completely without
transparency, and prosecutors are not often judges.
In 2016, the UN established that serious and
systematic human rights violations are committed by the
regime and that it may have been guilty of crimes
against humanity. The peace treaty with Ethiopia 2018
has not led to any improvements in the regime's respect
for human rights. Eritreans are subject to constant
surveillance and privacy violations. The UN takes a
particularly serious view of the military service, which
should be on the paper for 18 months, but which leads to
many people spending their entire working lives in
almost slave-like conditions.
There are probably thousands of political prisoners
in Eritrea. They are often kept under very difficult
conditions. Among them are regime critics, religious
dissidents, journalists, conscientious objectors and
people who tried to flee the country. Torture and
prolonged insulation underground or in shipping
containers - often in extreme heat - are common. Many
who are arrested "disappear" and many are reported to
have died in captivity.
Eritrea jumps off Igad
Eritrea leaves the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IgAD) for its
support for Ethiopia's involvement in Somalia's fighting.