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"Dispatches" is an ongoing series of investigative and topical documentaries that have been broadcast on Channel 4 since 1987. It covers issues ranging from politics, health and religion to international current affairs and the environment. The first episode on October 30, 1987, featured a report on the black market in weapons grade uranium operated from Khartoum. Other episodes in the long-running series have included a report in 1989 on the widespread use of anabolic steroids in horse racing, an undercover investigation in 1999 into Britain's sex slave trade, and an examination in 2009 of the terrorist attack that year on Mumbai from the point-of-view of victims, security forces and perpetrators.


Episode 1: Undercover in Africa's Secret State: Dispatches


Over the past two decades, more than half a million Eritreans have fled their home in eastern Africa, escaping one of the most repressive and secretive dictatorships in the world. Reporting in Eritrea is almost impossible but for more than five years, Evan Williams has been gathering secretly shot footage from inside the country and interviewing some of those who have escaped. Here he documents allegations of torture, arbitrary detention and indefinite forced conscription into military service


Few countries are as sealed off from the outside world as Eritrea. This documentary from producer-director Evan Williams has taken five years to make, partly because gathering material from inside the East African state proved incredibly hard. For 30 years Eritrea has been under the authoritarian rule of President Isaias Afwerki and for 30 years before that it was at war with Ethiopia to gain independence. 

Now hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing, many of them teenagers escaping the “slavery-like” detention centres and military service. Their secretly filmed footage tells the story of a country whose plight rarely makes news.

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ProducerEvan Williams
DirectorEvan Williams

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