At the Lideta courthouse in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, stands a statue of a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales in her outstretched hand--a universal symbol of justice, here cast in metal of pinkish gold and wearing thick braids in her hair.
Nelson Mandela regularly harangued the media once he'd been freed after 27 years of imprisonment by South Africa's apartheid government. He would call individual journalists when he liked or disliked something they had written or when he wanted to advance a political lobby.
Par Ferial Haffajee
Libéré après avoir passé 27 ans dans les prisons du gouvernement de l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud, Nelson Mandela haranguait régulièrement les médias. Il appelait individuellement des journalistes lorsqu’il aimait ou n’aimait pas ce qu’ils avaient écrit ou lorsqu’il cherchait à appuyer tel ou tel lobby politique.
It will be one year this weekend since six bloggers were arrested in Addis Ababa, just days after the group announced on Facebook that their Zone 9 blog would resume publishing after seven months of inactivity. As the anniversary of the arrests approaches on Saturday, Soleyana S. Gebremichale, one of the Zone 9 founders who was charged in absentia, told me the situation was not hopeless.
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.
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.