Press Release

Claims Commission Announces Award

On Friday, 17 December 2004, the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission announced its decision in cases between Eritrea and Ethiopia regarding treatment of civilians during the war. Eritrea's claims were for denationalization, expulsion, and confiscation of property as well as for detention of civilians in POW camps.

The Claims Commission held that tens of thousands of persons of Eritrean national origin had, in fact, possessed Ethiopian as well as Eritrean nationality. In some cases, Ethiopia had conducted a security check that gave it a right to denationalize the person but in many cases the denationalization was illegal. In particular, the expulsion of thousands of Eritrean farmers from northern Tigray was illegal. The urban expellees, the Claims Commission held, were illegally deprived of their property through the "collective impact" of a variety of measures such as discriminatory taxes, forced sales, and loan foreclosure. Civilians were detained illegally along with POWs and subject to the same illegal conditions. Compensation will be awarded in second phase of the proceeding.

The Claims Commission also decided Ethiopia's claims against Eritrea. It rejected Ethiopia's claims of mass expulsion of Ethiopians, and said that Ethiopians who wished to recover property that they left behind would have to show "wrongful seizure of their property and wrongful interference with their efforts to secure or dispose of their property." The two opinions can be found on the web site of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
18 December 2004