A year after the death of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn succeeded in preserving the repressive climate in Ethiopia. Several journalists faced interrogation or prosecution for writing about the late leader, his policies, and even his widow. One journalist, Temesghen Desalegn, former chief editor of the critical weekly Feteh, was charged in February with defaming the government in connection with his articles on Meles. Some reporters attempting to cover other sensitive topics, like anti-government protests and the forced eviction of farmers, were also detained and harassed, while others fled the country fearing arrest. The government did not disclose the health, whereabouts, or legal status of two journalists who have been in custody for seven years. Authorities banned two independent newspapers, accusing them of violating press regulations, as well as a private broadcaster which was reporting extensively on peaceful protests by Ethiopian Muslims. The country faced international condemnation over the imprisonment of award-winning journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, and Woubshet Taye, who were serving heavy terms on vague terrorism charges, but the Ethiopian government retaliated by imposing harsher conditions on them, including the threat of solitary confinement. Authorities continued to crack down on the online press by increasing its “technological capacity to filter, block, and monitor Internet and mobile phone communications,” according to an October report by Freedom House.
Un an après la mort de l’ancien premier ministre Meles Zenawi, son successeur, Hailemariam Desalegn maintient la répression contre la presse. Plusieurs journalistes ont subi des interrogatoires ou des poursuites, pour avoir publié des écrits sur l’ancien premier ministre, sa politique, et sa veuve. En février, Temesghen Desalegn, ancien rédacteur en chef de l'hebdomadaire Feteh, a été inculpé pour diffamation contre le gouvernement. Des journalistes qui couvraient les manifestations anti- gouvernementales ou l’expulsion forcée d’agriculteurs, ont été arrêtés et harcelés. D'autres ont préféré fuir le pays de peur d'être arrêtés. Le gouvernement est resté muet sur l’état de santé, le lieu de détention ou le statut juridique des deux journalistes retenus en garde à vue depuis sept ans. Les autorités ont interdit deux journaux indépendants, les accusant de violer les lois sur la presse, ainsi qu’un radiodiffuseur privé qui a largement couvert des manifestations pacifiques organisées par les musulmans éthiopiens. Suite à l’incarcération des journalistes-lauréats, Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu et Woubshet Taye, qui purgeaient de lourdes peines d’emprisonnement basées sur de vagues accusations de terrorisme, la Communauté internationale a condamné l’attitude du gouvernement lequel a riposté en leur imposant des conditions de détention plus sévères, et en les menaçant de mise à l’isolement. Selon un rapport publié par Freedom House au mois d’octobre, les autorités ont continué de sévir contre la presse en ligne, en renforçant notamment, leur «capacité technologique à filtrer, bloquer, et à surveiller l’Internet et la téléphonie mobile »,
New York, November 5, 2013--As media leaders and officials of regional institutions gather in Addis Ababa this week for the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the participants to ensure that press freedom is squarely on the agenda.
CPJ launches US report
Following CPJ's release of its report on the state of press freedom in the United States, the organization is pursuing high-level meetings with the White House. CPJ had drafted six recommendations that were shared with President Obama, including calling for a guarantee that journalists would not be at legal risk or prosecuted for receiving confidential and/or classified information.
CPJ continues to work toward securing a meeting with the Obama administration in order to discuss the report's findings.
"Given our 32-year history fighting for press freedom around the world, we believe CPJ can make an important contribution to the press freedom concerns and debate in the United States," CPJ Chairman Sandy Rowe wrote in a blog published the day after the report.
Journalists and media owners across Africa gave Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye a standing ovation in Cape Town on Saturday night at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013, but he wasn't there to see it. Instead his wife and son accepted the Free Press Award on his behalf.
Part of the citation for the award reads: "Ethiopia is a jewel in the African crown for its beauty, its people, its history and, most recently, for its astonishing growth rates. It is the judges' view that journalists like Woubshet Taye and his colleagues Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega should be out of prison and working to build the prosperity and the freedom of a new Ethiopia. The judges make this award in recognition of Mr. Taye's work and in solidarity with his condition."
In 1968, Andrei Sakharov braved censorship and personal risk in the Soviet Union to give humanity an honest and timeless declaration of conscience. That same year, Ethiopia's most prominent dissenter, Eskinder Nega, was born. In January 1981, a year into Sakharov's exile in the closed city of Gorky, Reeyot Alemu, another fierce, Ethiopian free thinker, was born.
CPJ releases report on journalists in exile
Fifty-five journalists fled their homes fearing threats of violence and imprisonment in the past year, according to CPJ's annual survey, which is based on cases the organization has supported, from which it derives global trends. The report, "Journalists in Exile," was released on June 19, ahead of World Refugee Day.
The report found that Iran and Somalia were the top two countries driving out journalists, with nine and eight journalists fleeing, respectively, in the past 12 months. Ethiopia, Syria, Eritrea, Mexico, and Sri Lanka are also high on the list of countries from which journalists were forced to flee.
Journalists who CPJ assisted cited fear of violence as the top reason for deciding to leave their countries. Others pointed to threats of imprisonment when asked why they fled into exile. In nearly all of the cases, the journalists moved as a last resort, leaving behind their careers, livelihoods, and families to escape intimidation.
It was well past mid-day in Eastleigh, a shanty district on the east side of Nairobi, Kenya. The billows of dust rising from the rock-scarred road showed a government that had long lost interest in the neighborhood. A young man, struggling with horribly dry conditions, was fighting with his patrons. "Welahi, today's khat is so small. I need more," a Somali customer was complaining. "Pole, hakuna unvua" ("Sorry, no rain"). "Khat is getting expensive in these days," the young man tried to convince him in Kiswahili and English. Few knew that the young peddler was once a journalist in Ethiopia. They cared neither about his profession nor the reasons he had fled his home country. For them, he was just a dealer of khat, the mildly addictive green leaf that is chewed in East Africa. It was as simple as that.
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