There is continuing tension with Ethiopia, with large numbers of troops being deployed by both Ethiopia and Eritrea within 20–40 km of the border.

Compulsory military service has led to the repression of minority religions, particularly members of religions which refuse to participate in national service.

Members of Pentecostal Christian churches have been arrested for possession of Bibles or for communal worship. Jehovah's Witnesses have been especially mistreated. Some have been detained for a decade for refusing to participate in national service, even though the official penalty is incarceration for no more than three years. Amnesty International, in a report released on 19 May 2004, reported that people avoiding conscription, political prisoners and members of minority churches were singled out for detention and torture. In September 2004 the United States designated Eritrea as a country of 'particular concern' for its intolerance and mistreatment of adherents of minority religions. The Eritrean government defended its practices on the grounds that the unrecognized churches had failed to register, but the US State Department report noted that some of the religious groups had applied for registration in 2002 and that the government had issued no registration permits since the registration regime was imposed.

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