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Netherlands Concerned At Eritrea's 'Embassy Tax'

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

25 August 2016

The Netherlands has expressed concern over the collection of a two percent tax imposed on Eritrean nationals living overseas.

The Dutch Government said in a statement on August 23 that, while the tax itself is not illegal under Dutch law, it has seen indications that the tax is being forcibly collected from members of the Eritrean community.

"I share the serious concerns that exist about this matter, and I've made that clear today," said Foreign Minister Bert Koenders after meeting with his Eritrean counterpart, Osman Saleh. "For the Netherlands, intimidation or threats are unacceptable. Contacts between Eritreans and their embassy must always be voluntary."

Koenders said the levy amounts to "excessive" taxation and represents a barrier to integration into Dutch society. "In many cases they have to pay tax to two countries. That's not a good idea. And this tax creates an additional obstacle to Eritreans' integration in the Netherlands."

The Government said that the Public Prosecution Service could launch an investigation into the matter if there are "credible" signs that intimidation is being used to collect the tax.

This is not the first time a government has raised concerns over the so-called Eritrean "diaspora tax." In 2015, London's Metropolitan Police looked into allegations that the Eritrean embassy was forcing Eritrean nationals to pay the tax.

The use of the "diaspora tax" was condemned in a United Nations resolution in 2011, which called on Eritrea to "cease using extortion, threats of violence, fraud, and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals or other individuals of Eritrean descent."

TAGS: individuals | tax | Eritrea | Netherlands | law | United Nations (UN) | United Kingdom | Africa

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