Ethiopia

2012


Blog   |   Ethiopia

Members of European Parliament call to free Eskinder

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session in Strasbourg, France, on June 13, 2012. (AFP/Frederick Florin)

On December 18, 16 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) wrote an open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn calling for the immediate release of the independent journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who was condemned in July to 18 years in prison under the country's tough 2009 anti-terrorism legislation.

December 19, 2012 6:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Ethiopia, Journalist Assistance

Video: Campaign to free the press

(CNN)

The imprisonment of journalists hit a record high in 2012, driven by the growing use of anti-terrorism charges to silence critical voices. This video, a centerpiece of CPJ's new Free the Press campaign, details the plight of imprisoned journalists worldwide and describes how international advocacy can make a difference in winning the freedom of jailed reporters, editors, photojournalists, and bloggers. (4:40)

Read our special report "Number of jailed journalists sets global record" and view our database of journalists in prison.

December 11, 2012 12:00 AM ET

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Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopia harasses Voice of America and its sources

Police detained a journalist covering this protest by Ethiopian Muslims today. (EthioTube)

Nairobi, October 5, 2012--Ethiopian authorities should halt their harassment of journalists covering the country's Muslim community and their intimidation of citizens who have tried to speak to reporters about sensitive religious, ethnic, and political issues, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police in the capital, Addis Ababa, briefly detained Marthe Van Der Wolf, a reporter with the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America as she was covering a protest by members of Ethiopia's Muslim community at the Anwar Mosque, local journalists said. The protesters were demonstrating against alleged government interference in Islamic Council elections scheduled for Sunday, according to VOA and local journalists.

Blog   |   Ethiopia, USA

Vigil in DC honors Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega

People gather at a candlelight vigil to commemorate the first anniversary of the arrest of imprisoned blogger Eskinder Nega. (George Newcomb)

Writer, journalist, blogger, and free speech activist Eskinder Nega, the 2012 recipient of PEN American Center's Freedom to Write Award, lived in Washington, D.C., before returning to his native Ethiopia to start one of the country's first-ever independent newspapers. On Friday, Eskinder was back in D.C.--not physically, but as the subject of a candlelight vigil at the African American Civil War Memorial that commemorated the first anniversary of the blogger's arrest and sent the message that those jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech are never forgotten.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia, Sweden

Ethiopia should release journalists still in prison

Swedish journalists Johan Persson
and Martin Schibbye appear on state television. (ETV/YouTube)

Nairobi, September 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Ethiopian government to set free six journalists in prison for their work, a day after Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were pardoned and released from Kality Prison in the capital Addis Ababa.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopia frees prominent journalist, drops all charges

Temesghen Desalegn (Awramba Times)

New York, August 28, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's decision by the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice to release the editor of a leading independent weekly from jail and drop all criminal charges against him. CPJ also calls for the release of eight other journalists now imprisoned in Ethiopia for their work.

Temesghen Desalegn, editor of Feteh, was released from Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, the capital, at around 3 p.m. today, according to Feteh Deputy Editor Hailemeskel Beshewamyelhu. The journalist was jailed on Friday in connection with his articles that appeared in seven editions of Feteh and criticized the policies of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, according to local journalists.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

In Meles' death, as in life, a penchant for secrecy, control

The late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, shown here in 2010. (AFP/Simon Maina)

Ethiopians awakened this morning to state media reports that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, the country's leader for 21 years, had died late Monday in an overseas hospital of an undisclosed disease. Within seconds, Ethiopians spread the news on social media; within minutes, international news media were issuing bulletins. Finally, after weeks of government silence and obfuscation over Meles' health, there was clarity for Ethiopians anxious for word about their leader. Still, it was left to unnamed sources to fill in even the basic details. Meles died in a Brussels hospital of liver cancer, these sources told international news organizations, and he had been ill for many months.

"Death of yet another African leader highlights secrecy & lack of transparency when it comes to ailing leaders," CNN's Faith Karimi noted on Twitter, where the hashtag #MelesZenawi was trending globally.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopian authorities crack down on Muslim press

Ethiopian Muslims are staging protests every Friday. (Hayat Se)

Nairobi, August 9, 2012--Ethiopian authorities must release a journalist who has been detained for almost three weeks, and allow three Muslim news outlets to resume publishing immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Local journalists believe the Muslim press in Ethiopia is being targeted for its coverage of protests by the Muslim community.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopian appeals court reduces sentence of Reeyot Alemu

The front cover of Reeyot Alemu's book, 'EPRDF's Red Pen.' (Reeyot Alemu)

Nairobi, August 3, 2012--An appeals court in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, has reduced a 14-year prison sentence given to journalist Reeyot Alemu in January to five years and dropped most of the terrorism charges against her, according to local journalists.

Reeyot, a columnist for the independent weekly Feteh, was sentenced in January and fined 33,000 birrs (US$1,500) under Ethiopia's sweeping anti-terrorism law for planning and conspiring a terrorist act; possessing property for terrorist acts; and participating in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act, according to local journalists.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

Where is Meles Zenawi? Ethiopians don't know.

Rumors abound about the health and whereabouts of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. (AFP/Simon Maina)

If you search for the name of Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, on Twitter these days, you'll see a flurry of incongruent postings: Meles is hospitalized in critical condition; he's fine and returning to work; he died two weeks ago; he's on holiday. Journalists for international news outlets have tried to sort out fact from rumor, but they've gotten no help from Ethiopian government officials who offered only vague assurances that the country's longtime leader was ill but recovering. In Ethiopia, where the government has imposed increasingly repressive measures on the domestic press corps, news coverage has been minimal and contradictory.

International news outlets, such as ReutersThe Associated Press, and the BBC, reported last week that Meles was hospitalized for an undisclosed condition. Reuters, citing diplomatic sources, said he was being treated in Brussels, although even that scant nugget of information was not officially confirmed.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopia sentences Eskinder, 5 others on terror charges

From left: Eskinder, Abebe Gellaw, Mesfin, Abiye, Fasil, and Abebe Belew.

Nairobi, July 13, 2012--An Ethiopian court today handed down heavy prison sentences to six journalists convicted on vague terrorism charges, local journalists and news reports said. Award-winning blogger Eskinder Nega got an 18-year term; the others live in exile and were sentenced in absentia.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Former Ethiopian state radio journalist released

Abdulsemed Mohammed (Courtesy Abdulsemed)

Nairobi, July 11, 2012--A veteran Ethiopian state journalist who was twice imprisoned on vague corruption and copyright charges and recently convicted on the lesser charge was released today on account of a reduced sentence, local journalists said.

A panel of judges at the Lideta Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, sentenced Abdulsemed Mohammed, a former senior producer with government-controlled broadcaster Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA), to three and half years in prison but said he could go free on account of time already served. The judges also put Abdulsemed on probation for two years, the local journalists said.

Blog   |   Ethiopia, Internet

High-tech censorship on the rise in East Africa

Ethiopia has always been a country at the cutting edge of Internet censorship in Africa. In the wake of violence after the 2005 elections, when other states were only beginning to recognize the potential for online reporters to bypass traditional pressures, Meles Zenawi's regime was already blocking major news sites and blog hosts such as blogspot.com. Some sites and Web addresses have been blocked for their reporting ever since, including exiled media like Addis Neger Online and Awramba Times.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Eskinder Nega, 5 exiled journalists convicted of terrorism

From left: Eskinder, Abebe Gellaw, Mesfin, Abiye, Fasil, and Abebe Belew.

Nairobi, June 27, 2012--Today's conviction of six Ethiopian journalists on vague terrorism charges is an affront to the rule of law and the constitution in the Horn of Africa country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least 11 journalists have been charged with terrorism since November 2011, according to CPJ research.

Statements   |   Ethiopia

CPJ condemns Eskinder Nega verdict in Ethiopia

New York, June 27, 2012-The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's conviction of Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega on baseless terrorism charges. "The Ethiopian government has once again succeeded in misusing the law to silence critical and independent reporting," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "The charges against Eskinder are baseless and politically motivated in reprisal for his writings. His conviction reiterates that Ethiopia will not hesitate to punish a probing press by imprisoning journalists or pushing them into exile."

June 27, 2012 8:54 AM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan

Video: Journalists in exile

Four East African journalists who were forced to flee their countries tell about their experiences, difficulties, and hopes for the future. (3:43)

Read CPJ's report, "Journalists in exile: Crisis in East Africa," for more information about journalists forced to go into exile.

Reports   |   Eritrea, Ethiopia, Journalist Assistance, Kenya, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Syria, Uganda

Journalists in exile 2012

Crisis in East Africa

Fifty-seven journalists fled their country in the past year, with Somalia sending the greatest number into exile. Journalists also fled Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda--mostly for Kenya and Uganda. Exiles in East Africa must grapple with poverty and fear. A CPJ special report by María Salazar-Ferro and Tom Rhodes

Somali journalists carry the body of Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan of Horn Cable TV who was killed in December 2011. Fear of violence is one of the top reasons why journalists flee into exile. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopian law criminalizes independent telecom use

Nairobi, June 15, 2012--A new law in Ethiopia imposes prison sentences for offenses related to the independent use of telecommunications tools and services, according to local journalists and news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by broad and vaguely worded provisions of the law, under which journalists could be prosecuted for the methods they use to circumvent government surveillance and censorship.

Blog   |   Ethiopia, USA

US senator condemns Ethiopia's persecution of the press

The success of a U.S. partnership with Ethiopia on food security depends in large part on a free press in the Horn of Africa nation, a senator argued yesterday. Above, Obama and Meles at the G8 summit in 2010. (White House)

On Wednesday, the same day the White House announced a strategic plan committing the United States to elevating its efforts in "challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes" in sub-Saharan Africa, a senior member of the U.S. Congress challenged the erosion of press freedom in a key U.S. strategic partner in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

CPJ and Africa Media Initiative meet Ethiopian minister

Addis Ababa, June 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists and the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) called for the release of journalists being held under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws and requested a review of those laws as they affect freedom of speech.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopian police detain VOA reporter, interpreter

Muslims gather to protest perceived government interference in religious affairs. (DimtsachinYisema)

Nairobi, May 25, 2012--Police in Ethiopia today detained Peter Heinlein, a correspondent for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America, along with Simegnish Yekoye, a freelance reporter and Heinlein's interpreter, according to Jennifer Janin, the Africa coverage editor for VOA, and local journalists.

Letters   |   Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, USA

Obama should raise press freedom in Africa food talks

New York, May 16, 2012--President Obama should acknowledge the role that independent news reporting plays in assessing agricultural challenges and facilitating the response to famine, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to the White House. Ethiopia in particular downplays the extent of food crises and undermines the ability of donor nations and aid groups to help by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent coverage.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, new printing directive equals pre-censorship

The directive from Berhanena Selam, in Amharic. (CPJ)

New York, May 9, 2012--Ethiopia's main, state-owned printing company has directed newspaper publishers to censor any content that may draw government prosecution under the country's anti-terrorism law or face cancellation of their printing contracts, according to local journalists and news reports.

Blog   |   China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe

China's media footprint in Kenya

CCTV's East Africa operations are headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. (CCTV)

Will China's quickly expanding media presence in Africa result in a fresh, alternative, and balanced perspective on the continent--much as Al-Jazeera altered the broadcast landscape with the launch of its English service in 2006--or will it be essentially an exercise in propaganda?

May 7, 2012 4:17 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopian paper fined for coverage of Eskinder Nega trial

Feteh published Eskinder Nega's courtroom statement in its entirety. (CPJ)

New York, May 4, 2012--An Ethiopian court has cited the editor of a leading independent newspaper for contempt after his paper published the verbatim courtroom statement made by the imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega during his trial, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling, which illustrates the growing severity of censorship in Ethiopia.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

Blogger fights terror charges as Ethiopian leader praised

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at a conference in London in February. Western governments are hesitant to press Ethiopia on human rights abuses. (AP/Jason Reed)

Last week in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, while Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was making a speech about Africa's growth potential at an African Union forum, a journalist who his administration has locked away since September on bogus terrorism charges was presenting his defense before a judge. Eskinder Nega has been one of the most outspoken critics of Meles' domestic leadership over the past two decades and has suffered imprisonment, intimidation, and censorship for it.

Attacks on the Press   |   Chile, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Abolishing Censorship

Police in Santiago seize a photographer during an anti-government demonstration. (Reuters/Carlos Vera)

Even as trade and new systems of communication turn us into global citizens, the information we need to ensure accountability often stops at national borders. New platforms like social media are valuable tools, but the battle against censorship is hardly over. By Joel Simon

Attacks on the Press   |   Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gambia, South Africa, Uganda

Attacks on the Press: Development Trumps Freedom

Civil unrest grips downtown Kampala. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said journalists who covered the protests were 'enemies' of the country's development. (AP/Stephen Wandera)

Many African leaders continue to offer a false choice between stability and press freedom. Taking a cue from China, a key investor and model, they stress social stability and development over openness and reform. By Mohamed Keita

Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Ethiopia

Trumpeting economic growth on par with India and asserting adherence to the authoritarian model of China, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pushed an ambitious development plan based in part on ever-hardening repression of critical journalists. The government aggressively extended application of a 2009 anti-terrorism law, designating rebel and opposition groups as terrorists and criminalizing news coverage of them. Authorities were holding seven journalists in late year on vague accusations of terrorism, including two Swedes who reported on separatist rebels in the oil-rich Ogaden region, and three Ethiopians with critical views of the ruling party. The government provided no credible evidence against the journalists, and both Zenawi and state media proclaimed the journalists' guilt before trial proceedings started. The Human Rights Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights raised numerous questions about the use of the terror law in its periodic review of Ethiopia's record. In November, government intimidation led to the closing of the independent Awramba Times and forced two of its journalists, including 2010 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Dawit Kabede, to flee the country. Another journalist fled into exile in September after his name appeared in unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. Police threatened to arrest the journalist after the cable showed he had spoken to U.S. diplomats about a potential press crackdown.

February 21, 2012 12:16 AM ET

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Life sentence for blogger, prison for journalists

From left: Woubshet, Reeyot, Kifle.

New York, January 26, 2012--A U.S.-based journalist convicted on politicized terrorism charges in Ethiopia was sentenced to life in prison in absentia today, while two other Ethiopian journalists received heavy prison sentences in connection with their coverage of banned opposition groups, according to news reports.

Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Judge confirms charges against Ethiopian dissident blogger

From left: Nega, Gellaw, Negash, Teklemariam, Yenealem, and Belew. (CPJ)

New York, January 25, 2012--Jailed Ethiopian dissident blogger Eskinder Nega will stand trial in March for all of the terrorism accusations initially advanced by prosecutors, a federal high court judge ruled yesterday, local sources said. If convicted on all charges, he could face the death penalty. 

Blog   |   Ethiopia

Standing with Ethiopia's tenacious blogger, Eskinder Nega

Eskinder Nega (Lennart Kjörling)

It would be hard to find a better symbol of media repression in Africa than Eskinder Nega. The veteran Ethiopian journalist and dissident blogger has been detained at least seven times by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government over the past two decades, and was put back in jail on September 14, 2011, after he published a column calling for the government to respect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and to end torture in prisons.

January 13, 2012 4:21 PM ET

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