A really unpleasant and inaccurate report by the Danish Immigration Service has been denounced by the Eritrean academic whose work it was supposedly based on.
The report (see at the end of the reply by Professor Gaim Kibreab) was written with one purpose in mind: to cut the number of Eritrean refugees arriving in Denmark. It had few merits, but Professor Gaim has now pointed out that it seriously misquotes him and has dissociated himself from the report.
The Danish government is looking for any excuse to cut migration, adding to the distress of Eritrean refugees who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean.
Professor Gaim Kibreab’s reply to the authors of the Danish Immigration Service Report
London 27 November 2014
I gave you references to two articles I published on the Eritrean National Service. One of you also told me that he was reading or was going to read my book—Eritrea: A Dream Deferred. The reason I wanted you to read my work was to enable you to have an in-depth understanding of the ENS, which over time has degenerated into a slave-like open-ended obligation. The information I provided you in the conversation we had was in no way different from the findings of my on-going studies.
I elaborated this extensively in our conversation and in the substantial changes I made to your draft using the ‘track change’ tool. You sent me a document to read based on our conversations. As said earlier, I edited it heavily and sent it to you clearly stating, “I have just sent an edited version of the conversation we had in London. You can definitely attribute the information provided to me.” I expected you to adhere to that document as it reflected my views. Instead of doing that you either used my name generally to lend credibility to your anonymised sources, or picked words or half sentences to fit into your account.
The way you have chosen to quote me contradicts the findings of the studies I have been conducting on the Eritrean National Service and the full information I provided you in our oral communication and in the edited version of the draft you sent to me for comments and approval. Instead of approving the draft you sent to me, I edited it substantially and your report does not reflect that (please see attachment). I would therefore like to be dissociated myself from your report and its conclusions.
I would ask you to make public the views that I have now sent you, dissociating myself from the report and the edited document I authorized you to use. I would ask you to make this public via the Danish and international media in the same way you publicized the report in the first place.
Professor Gaim Kibreab
 Sent: 14 November 2014 14:29
Denmark tightens restrictions on Eritreans
Source: The Local
– Denmark’s news in English
Published: 26 Nov 2014 11:15 GMT+01:00
After a major fact finding mission, Denmark will no longer give blanket asylum to Eritreans fleeing their country’s authoritarian rule.
A massive increase in refugees from Eritrea earlier this year led Denmark to put a halt to asylum for Eritreans
until the Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen) could evaluate the reason for the sharp uptick.
The results of the Immigration Service’s investigation have now been delivered to the Justice Ministry and Eritreans will once again be eligible for asylum in Denmark – but under much tougher criteria than before.
The Justice Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday that Eritreans will no longer be automatically granted asylum if they came to Denmark to flee their home country’s authoritarian rule and compulsory military service.
Instead, Eritreans will need to show that they face a personal threat in order to be granted asylum in Denmark.
The UN reported in 2013 that Eritreans subject to conscription into national service risked retribution and even possible death if they fled the country. But the Immigration Service’s three-week fact finding mission concluded that an alleged shoot-to-kill policy targeting Eritreans who illegally leave the country “might have been party true previously but … people are no longer being shot at just because they try to cross the border into Ethiopia”.
Immigration Service also said that international reports of up to 10,000 political prisoners in Eritrea “is difficult to harmonize with the reality on the ground”.
The extensive fact finding report indicates that the human rights situation in Eritrea may not be as bad as rumoured, thus Denmark will no longer give blanket asylum to Eritreans.
“The report gives new and relevant information on the asylum situation in relation to Eritrea. The report shows that there was a need for updated information and that it was necessary for Immigration Service to carry out a fact finding mission,” Justice Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
Frederiksen wouldn’t comment directly on what would happen to the some 1,400 Eritreans who have been waiting in Danish asylum centres for their cases to be processed.
“As justice minister, I don’t have the competence to rule on concrete asylum cases. At the end of the day it will be Flygtningenævnet [the Danish Refugee Appeals Board, ed.] that will apply the meaning of this new information on Eritrea to the actual asylum cases,” Frederiksen said.
Throughout the first quarter of 2014, roughly ten Eritrean asylum seekers arrived in Denmark each month. In July, that number jumped to 510, leading the then justice minister, Karen Hækkerup, to put asylum for Eritreans on hold pending the Immigration Service’s findings.
According to Politiken, Eritreans make up the second-largest group of refugees in Denmark this year behind Syrians.
The Danish Immigration Service’s fact finding report on Eritrea is available here (in English)