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Ethiopia: New journalist arrests put press freedom gains at risk

Ethiopia _ Amnesty International

July 9, 2019

The Ethiopian government risks rolling back the great progress it made on media freedom last year, said Amnesty International, after the government announced plans to charge journalists and media outlets for their reporting on the armed forces.

Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has overturned the repressive civil society law and released dozens of detained journalists and bloggers. By the end of 2018, not a single journalist remained behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and, in 2019, Ethiopia leapt 40 places up the World Press Freedom Index.

However, following a wave of arrests of journalists in the past weeks, the Ministry of Defence yesterday announced plans to charge journalists and media houses for “publishing defamatory information about the Ethiopia National Defence Forces”.

“After making great strides on press freedom, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government received glowing tributes, and the honour of hosting this year’s World Press Freedom Day event,” Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said.

“This new round of arrests is a hugely regressive move that risks rolling back the progress witnessed in 2018. All journalists arrested must be immediately released and all charges against them unconditionally dropped.”

Berihun Adane, Editor-in-Chief of the privately-owned Asrat TV and the weekly Berera newspaper, was arrested on 26 June, while Elias Gebru, editor of the Enqu magazine, defunct since 2014, was arrested on 6 July.

Both journalists have since been charged under the Anti- Terrorism Proclamation (2009), which was used by previous governments to bring trumped-up charges against its critics.

The latest round of arrests in the wake of the 22 June assassination of the army chief of staff and other high-ranking government officers, has also targeted activists and members of the opposition National Movement of the Amhara.

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  1. I thought we are done with the arrests of journalists in that country. What was the reason? Evidence please!!!! Hello!!! Evidence for the arrests, please!!! If the alleged journalist had anything to do with the brutal murder of the officials, then shame on him. But I doubt it because I have not read any report by the government that includes the evidence. What the reporters should bear in mind is to stay the course of being a true and independent journalist. A journalist cannot be a reporter and an activist at the same time. Otherwise, he/she will not escape the entrapment of being used either by the regime or the opposition. We have seen enough of that. You have read it. I have read it. There were journalists madly in love with the ruthless Mengistu and those who followed him. I also heard that some of the so-called journalists used to compose poetry for ‘revolutionary songs’ for Mengistu for ‘eradicating’ those anti people citizens. And also some of them, I was told that they had managed to escape the Meles dragnet and were able to found media outlets here among the Diaspora so they can still sing to their ‘Menge’. A friend had shown me a video clip where one of them was using the honorary guest ‘Chairman Mengistu’. This noble profession has been stained so bad in that country by such kowtowed ‘newsmen’ that it is going to take them a generation or more to clean up such a sell-out tradition.

  2. Subject: “Ethiopia: New journalist arrests put press freedom gains at risk” ​​​AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE, July 9, 2019

    Commentary, 10 July 2019 In our Dear Africa, we have a very long road ahead to reach the point where journalisits uphold the noble epitome of the TRUTH and defend the ordinary people from being manupilated by few manipulating charlatans, destroying the LIFE of Africans. I have no hope to see significant improvement in my Life time, nor will I conjure of glaring improvement for the next multi-generations.

    There is something inherently MYSTERIOUS phenomenon that WE AFRICANS cannot learn from the experience of our own sordid existence. I better STOP here.

    Dear Editor, borkena If I sound too harsh for publication, please DELETE it and I honestly ask you to forgive me. I cannot help pouring my heart out. In any case, having said that, I WISH TO THANK YOU for the privilege of having free space to express my views on varied topics.

  3. This is not good. It’s not good for the country as a whole nor is this good for the Good Doctor Abiy Ahmed Ali. You can’t go around incarcerating journalists for reporting the truth and facts. This is is sad, pathetic and embarrassing. Can you imagine if Barack Obama did this? All this proves is that the political leaders are out of touch with the people and have adopted the Willie Lynch Syndrome and the Time Bomb Syndrome which makes it necessary for the Chinaman, Al Saud, UAE,Turks and Europeans to come into the country and do everything else other than watch us clash over century old conflicts. We have to change the narrative and challenge the concept that Black People aren’t worth a damn.

  4. Ask where was AI when we were lied upten times? perhaps some gullible people and some uninitiated need to wake up, when Susan Rice Former Associate of US of something she laughed out loud at your election where your best freis TPLF had a field day to kill and rob Ethiopia and the result is what you have your Ethiopia now, dmore divide and at death bed it imperative to ask who is an honest journalist as a matter of fact UK banned RT from participating in Journalists meeting is this honest journalism? no wonder CIA says ” journalists are cheaper than a Hooker”!! go and figure what they mean.


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