Swiss Attorney General today dropped its criminal investigations into an alleged “illegal” tax collection by the Eritrean consulate in Geneva.
Prosecutors said the consulate could not be charged as the two percent Recovery and Rehabilitation Tax (RRT) that are commonly known as the ‘Diaspora Tax’ are perfectly legal and authorized by the Eritrean state.
The Office of the Attorney General said as neither of the dispensing of payment slips from the consulate nor the accounts opened for tax collection purposes with a Swiss bank or reported evidence that exiled Eritreans have passed as an alleged “tax collection evidence” represent a probable cause for the opening of proceedings.
For lack of clear substantial violations and evidence, the Office of the Attorney General, therefore, decided to CLOSE the preliminary investigation on a number of the complaints filed by the Federal Office of Police, effective immediately.
Germany, Sweden, and the UK have already proved the legality of the 2% RRT collection and have thrown similar allegations for lack of violations of any of the local laws as well as provisions of the UN Resolutions.
Last year, the Swedish parliament, Riksdag, defeats a motion proposing a ban on taxation of Eritrean citizens in Sweden by the Eritrea consulate by misrepresenting reports of the UN Monitoring Group.
However, UN Security Council Resolution 2013(2011) does not prohibit Eritrea from collecting 2% RRT as levying of various taxes is surely the prerogative and sovereign right of any country.
READ MORE : Swedish Parliament Rejects Ban on Diaspora Tax
As the summary of the final decision by the Swedish Riksdag stipulates,
“It can be stated that under international law, it is permissible for a State to tax citizens residing abroad. However, it is not permissible for a state to take action without the consent of the territory of another State to recover the fund. If these measures include criminal documents, it must of course be prosecuted and punished. The foregoing means that if the representative of Eritrea in the recovery order acting in a criminal way (eg with unlawful stalking, blackmail or threats) against someone in Sweden should be handled by the judiciary in the context of current legislation. It should be emphasized that for this type of behavior to come to the attention of the authorities normally requires that the affected police reports it. It does not see the need for any new laws to address criminal activity for the specific context of the Eritrean tax collection. The Committee therefore proposes that Parliament REJECTS motions 2012/13.″
What is Recovery and Rehabilitation Tax (RRT)?
The RRT is part and parcel of Eritrea’s taxation law and system. It was inspired by the Eritrean communities in diaspora during the Eritrean referendum process. It was later enacted by the National Assembly in 1994 under the 2% Tax Form Proclamation No 17/1991 & 67/1995 to encourage Eritreans in the Diaspora to contribute to the rehabilitation of their country that has been devastated by three decades of war for national independence and freedom.
The RRT proclamation, therefore, specifically targets only Eritrean citizens in Diaspora, not citizens of other countries of Eritrean descent. The rate was fixed at a low 2% of their net income; in a country where personal income tax is progressive and reaching up to 38%.