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 »,
for the press ahead of Sochi Games
CPJ's special report, "Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi Olympics," which was released on January 28, garnered significant coverage in the local and international media, including CBS Sports, the Huffington Post, Al-Jazeera America, and other outlets. CPJ also issued a Russian translation of its Journalist Security Guide to accompany the report.
The report examines how both local and international journalists have been harassed and prevented from covering topics such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, forced evictions, and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the lead-up to the Games. The report also explores how Russian state-controlled media have ignored these issues or instead published propaganda that smears the victims of human rights abuses and the activists who defend them.
"When I grow up will I go to jail like my dad?" This was the shattering question that the five-year-old son of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye asked his mother after a recent prison visit. Woubshet's son, named Fiteh (meaning "justice"), has accompanied his mother on a wayward tour of various prisons since his father was arrested in June 2011.
Authorities have inexplicably transferred Woubshet, the former deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, to a number of prisons. From Maekelawi Prison, authorities transferred him to Kality Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa, then to remote Ziway Prison, then Kilinto Prison (just outside Addis Ababa), back to Kality, and in December last year--to Ziway again.
Photo credit, Barbara Nitke (CPJ)
Journalists honored at CPJ's annual award ceremony
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef was among four journalists who received CPJ's 2013 International Press Freedom Award on November 26. Youssef has used humor to report on and criticize government failures to improve the economy and public services, and its efforts to suppress opinion. In November, Youssef's show was suspended.
"Freedom of expression is not a privilege; it is a universal right," Youssef told the crowd gathered at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. "Now, you don't have to be a journalist or a reporter. You can just be an ordinary citizen with a camera and a YouTube channel. This is how we started. I don't know how this will end. ... But at least this is how we started."
CPJ also awarded Janet Hinostroza, a leading TV reporter in Ecuador, who has continued to work despite threats to her and her family; Nedim Şener, who faces up to 15 years in jail on terrorism charges because of his reporting; and Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, who was not present at the ceremony because he is serving a 12-year prison sentence for "conducting propaganda" against the state.
Thanks to Dan Doctoroff, chief executive officer and president of Bloomberg, who chaired the ceremony, the dinner raised a record $1.65 million for CPJ's worldwide press freedom advocacy. Many of the distinguished guests at the event also pledged support during a special appeal at the end of the night. Those funds were matched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, contributing another $200,000.
Norman Pearlstine, executive vice president and chief content officer of Time Inc., presented Paul Steiger, founding editor-in-chief of ProPublica and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for his lifetime commitment to press freedom.
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."
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.