Eritrea is one of the most difficult African jurisdictions for which to conduct legal research. This is primarily because the country’s laws are not easily accessible. While a few proclamations and notices have been uploaded to various websites piecemeal, there is not a central location where researchers can access the laws of the country for free.
On August 28, 2020, the Library of Congress released a digital collection of the Gazette of Eritrean Laws. This is the first of many legal gazettes moving into the Foreign Legal Gazettes collection on the Library of Congress website. There are 300 individual items in the Gazette of Eritrean Laws collection, consisting of all the proclamations and legal notices Eritrea published since its de facto independence in 1991 through 2017. Metadata has been added to make it easier for researchers to navigate the collection, locate amendments, and find related documents.
The publication of the collection builds on the Law Library’s ongoing collection development efforts. In 2016, the Law Library acquired print versions of the first ever Eritrean Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code, Penal Code, and Criminal Procedure Code. The release also comes at a time in which the global COVID-19 pandemic has made remote research the only available option for our patrons.
This is only the beginning. Additional proclamations and notices will be included in the collection as they become available. Historical items, including laws published during the time Eritrea was under Italian colonial rule, will also be eventually added to the collection to give a comprehensive picture of the evolution of the country’s legal system over time.
Finally, it is important to note that making the collection available would have been impossible without the team in the Library of Congress’s Nairobi Field Office, who worked tirelessly to coordinate the acquisition of the items, as well as the Law Library’s Digital Resources Division and the Library of Congress Digital Collections Management & Services Division who completed all the work to make the documents accessible online.
If you need help researching Eritrean laws, feel free to contact us.