CPJ makes joint call for release of jailed journalists

New York, September 17, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists and nine other nongovernmental organizations today wrote to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki expressing alarm at his government’s growing repression of press freedom and calling for the release of 17 jailed journalists.

The letter marks the three-year anniversary, on September 18, of a brutal clampdown in which Eritrea’s government banned all private media and jailed an unknown number of critics, including journalists.

The letter is signed by CPJ, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Namibia), West African Journalists Association (Senegal), Freedom of Expression Institute (South Africa), Journaliste en Danger (Democratic Republic of Congo), Media Institute (Kenya), African Free Media Foundation (Kenya), and Media Foundation for West Africa (Ghana).

“Those detained include more than a dozen journalists who have been incarcerated for over three years without being formally charged,” says the letter. “Jailing people for the peaceful expression of their opinion is a serious violation of human rights.”

2002 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Fessahaye Johannes (“Joshua”), former editor and co-founder of the weekly newspaper Setit, is one of the journalists who have been held without charge or trial. For more information about Fessahaye and the imprisoned Eritrean journalists, see the special report “Free Joshua.”