Foreign journalists target of new restrictions

JUNE 1, 2006
Posted August 4, 2006

All foreign journalists

On June 1, Eritrean authorities tightened restrictions on foreigners seeking to travel inside the country, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported and several CPJ sources confirmed. The new restrictions were at least partly aimed at curtailing foreign journalists from reporting outside the capital, Asmara, the sources said.

The change required all foreigners, “including resident diplomats and aid workers, as well as temporary visitors and tourists” to obtain permits to travel within Eritrea, according to AFP, in addition to the usual visas to enter the country. Authorities had already restricted foreigners’ movements for several years, particularly to sensitive regions such as the borders with Sudan and Ethiopia, but the new restrictions made it even more difficult to travel outside of Asmara, according to the CPJ sources.

The move came after the increasingly isolated country banned several international aid groups that had provided food assistance in the countryside. An article in the Economist noted that aid workers had previously been among the only foreign observers working in areas affected by food shortages, and that the latest expulsion “may be one way of muzzling reports of any impending humanitarian disaster.”