Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 1 - Eritrea

Overview: In May 2019, the Department of State removed Eritrea from the list of countries certified as “not cooperating fully” with U.S. CT efforts pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act. Eritrea had been on the list since 2008. In considering this annual determination, the Department of State reviewed Eritrea’s overall level of cooperation with U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. The Government of Eritrea took positive preliminary steps toward engagement with the United States on law enforcement and security in 2019. A lack of transparency from the Eritrean government means there was no clear picture of the methods it used to track terrorists or protect its citizens. In July and October, the government held initial coordination meetings with several U.S. law enforcement and CT-related agencies, opening a channel for information sharing and potential cooperation.

2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in Eritrea in 2019.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Eritrean government continues to require all citizens to obtain an exit visa before airport departure. Eritrea has poor internet connectivity, which makes use of the INTERPOL databases and biometric screening and information sharing at ports of entry problematic. However, Eritrea does coordinate with INTERPOL, and customs and immigration officials do use INTERPOL notices or API/PNR data. In July, the Eritrean government signed a partnership framework agreement with UNODC for comprehensive capacity building assistance to upgrade criminal justice and border security infrastructure, equipment, and practices.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In September 2019, Eritrea was admitted as an observer and membership candidate in the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), a FATF-style regional body. 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 the financing of terrorism.

Countering Violent Extremism: The government employs awareness raising campaigns, early warning tools, and community-level engagement to prevent and counter terrorist radicalization and recruitment. It actively cultivates an ethos of social inclusion and mutual respect across the nine traditional ethnic groups, as well as among the leading religious denominations that make up Eritrean society. It actively participates in regional CVE conferences, including one on “Empowering Youth and Promoting Tolerance” in Abu Dhabi from December 18-19.

International and Regional Cooperation: The government participated in an expert workshop on protecting critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks held in Johannesburg in November. The government is a member of East African Police Chiefs and hosted a regional workshop for East African law enforcement agencies.