Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - Eritrea

Overview:  In May 2018, the Department of State recertified Eritrea as “not cooperating fully” with U.S. counterterrorism efforts pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act.  In considering this annual determination, the Department of State reviewed Eritrea’s overall level of cooperation with U.S. efforts to combat terrorism, taking into account U.S. counterterrorism objectives and a realistic assessment of Eritrean capabilities.

In November 2018, the UNSC voted unanimously to lift the UN arms embargo on Eritrea that had been in effect since 2009.  High-level engagement among Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti on issues cited in the relevant resolutions, as well as Eritrea’s engagement with the UNSC’s Somalia Sanctions Committee and the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG), influenced the decision.  The SEMG’s 2018 report again concluded there was no evidence connecting Eritrea to al-Shabaab.

The Government of Eritrea’s lack of transparency means there was no clear picture of the methods it used to track terrorists or maintain safeguards for its citizens.  As a matter of practice, police refused to meet with security officials from western nations to discuss policy matters, although the United States had informal contacts with some law enforcement counterparts in 2018.

2018 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Eritrea in 2018.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Since September, the land border between Eritrea and Ethiopia has been open to citizens of the two countries to cross freely.  There are no fully functioning immigration offices at border checkpoints to facilitate travel of third country nationals.  Eritrean authorities maintain a presence at the border crossing points to check identification cards, but passports and visas are not required, nor is there meaningful customs screening or inspection.  It is not clear how long this procedure will remain in effect.  The Eritrean government continues to require all citizens to obtain an exit visa prior to airport departure.  Eritrea has poor internet capacity, which makes use of the INTERPOL databases and biometric screening and information sharing at ports of entry problematic.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Eritrea is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which has a maritime security program that focuses on building the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.  Eritrea issued new AML/CFT regulations in March (proclamation number 181/2018, updating a 2014 regulation), which outlined the structure and authorities of Eritrea’s FIU, clarified some banking rules, and strengthened the country’s regulatory and law enforcement regime for countering terrorism financing.  Eritrea’s FIU is not a member of the Egmont Group nor is it a member or observer of any FATF-style regional body. However, in December, Eritrea’s FIU requested membership in the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), which is a FATF-style regional body.

Countering Violent Extremism: There were no significant changes in 2018.

International and Regional Cooperation:  There were no changes in 2018.