Following the report of 30 August 2017 by the Swiss National TV (SRF), on Swiss-Eritrea links in gold trade, the issue is receiving gradual attention by some local actors and politicians, in particular members of the Swiss Parliament, who are sympathetic with the on-going struggle of ending the pervasive culture of impunity in Eritrea. With the aim of garnering the required level of support on this particular issue, the Eritrean Law Society (ELS) conducted a one-day work visit to the Swiss Parliament in Bern on 19 September 2017, at which time a number of consultations have taken place with different members of the Swiss Parliament.
As noted in the ELS report of 1 September 2017, the underlying assumption is that companies based or operating in Switzerland have a moral (if not a legal) obligation to adhere to responsible business practices, including ensuring compliance with international best practices on corporate social responsibility (CSR), as outlined mainly by the United Nations.
While the primary focus of the latest consultations was on the revelation about Swiss-Eritrea links in gold trade, additional consultations were also held on the plight of Eritrean asylum seekers in Switzerland, including challenges of integration faced by them. The most important consultation was with Mr. Cédric Wermuth, a member of the Swiss Parliament, representing the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland.
This is part of the continued effort by ELS and other diaspora-based Eritrean actors, committed to ensuring accountability for the on-going situation of crimes against humanity in Eritrea. The consultations of 19 September will be followed-up by other supplementary activities that will be implemented in the coming months up to December 2017. During the latest consultation, it was revealed that Mr. Wermuth has recently asked some formal questions to the Swiss government by way of requesting clarifications about the Swiss government’s position on the latest revelation of Swiss-Eritrea links in gold trade. The question and the response given from the Swiss government will be made public as soon as the details become available to ELS.