New York, March 15, 2000 — After a seven year wait, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) has obtained a certificate of legal recognition from the Ethiopian government, according to CPJ sources in Addis Ababa.
Justice Minister Worede-Wolb Wolbe signed the certificate on March 13. It sanctions the EFJA’s work, which includes documenting press freedom violations and promoting better journalism through workshops and seminars.
“We look forward to working with the EFJA to improve conditions for Ethiopian journalists,” said Yves Sorokobi, CPJ’s acting Africa Program Coordinator.
Launched in March 1993 by a group of local independent journalists, the EFJA has undergone many tribulations in fighting for press freedom in Ethiopia, where eight journalists were still imprisoned for their work at the end of 1999, according to CPJ’s research. “After seven years of bitter and relentless struggle, this is a major victory for Ethiopian journalists,” said EFJA president and founding member Kifle Mulat. “The official recognition of EFJA means that we may now complain when our rights are being trampled on.”
However, EFJA currently has no office and no adequate equipment to carry out its mission. Given the appalling state of press freedom in Ethiopia, Mulat called on the international freedom of expression community for moral and material support. “Computers, printers, fax machines, cash money, we need them urgently,” he said.
EFJA can be reached in Addis Ababa at phone / fax: 251 1 55 50 21.