Ethiopian rights body seeks release of 16 detained journalists

Abiy AhymedEthiopia’s state-appointed human rights body has called for the release of 16 journalists and media personnel after new arrests in recent days in the capital Addis Ababa and the restive region of Amhara.

Press watchdogs and rights groups have said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government is increasingly intimidating the media and harassing opponents as it seeks to quell unrest in regions.

Ethiopian authorities have been particularly cracking down in Amhara and Oromiya regions recently despite announcing a ceasefire to a sixteen-month civil war in March. The authorities have justified arrests of media personnel by accusing them of siding with rebels.

Rights commission head Daniel Bekele said the total number of detained journalists was now 16 and urged their immediate release.

“No claim about the alleged offence committed through media justifies violation of the newly adopted media law which clearly prohibits pre-trial detention of persons charged with committing an offence through the media,” he said in a statement.

In the latest round-up, Temesgen Desalegn of Feteh Magazine and Yayesew Shimelis of Ethio Forum Media were held on Thursday in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said.

Last week, Amhara authorities arrested five journalists of media outlet Ashara in a move thought linked to their coverage of a volunteer militia known as Fano. On the same day, the authorities also arrested another four employees of US-based online outlet Nisir International Broadcasting.

Government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Bekele’s statement.

But the government put out a warning to the media in a statement last week: “The government will continue to take irreversible measure on individuals involved in illegal activities who are planning and working to create havoc and chaos, also on those wearing a cloak of media outlets and journalists.”


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  • I have said this before and I will say it again. All these journalists must be released without any delay. If they were wrong in what they reported the best tool is to prove they are wrong. Defamation does not warrant incarceration but it must be handled thru libel cases. What the EHRC has been doing is once again admirable and commendable. If someone in the administration tries to be funny and go after the EHRC then that would be the last straw. Let these people go!!!!

  • Daniel Bekele, head of the Ethiopian Human Rights organ says to the Ethiopian government :

    “. . release . . (the) 16 detained journalists”

    A few days earlier, Daniel called:

    “Federal and regional security forces should refrain from arresting suspects before criminal investigations and imprisoning journalists because of their work and arresting people irrespective of a court warrant and notify family members when individuals are arrested as well bring them before a court.”

    This is not the first time Daniel B. asks the government to refrain from violation of the constitution and other laws and release journalists, but the government does not “refrain” from any of its illegal activities. Let alone refrain, t’s not even responding to his statements; it simply ignores him.

    If the government does not listen to its human rights officer, what the hell is Daniel B. doing as head of the institution? Isn’t his repeated empty cry of foul simply enabing the government to do what it wants to do more and more? If he stays as the top human rights officer who make statement with no consequences, how is he different from the arresting and torturing agents and judges that cooperate with the agents? At some stage, he should say enough.

    I feel that Daniel B. should resign from his position. He might claim that he better stay in his postion to further expose the illegal activites of the governemt. That argument might have made sense when he was appointed for the positon to verify the widely held opinion at the time that human rights situation is improvingi n the country. Two years after, it’s more than clear that the government is the worst violater of human rights the country has ever known.

    Daniel is supposed to know what to do under the prevailing situation: RESIGN.

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