African media leaders must address Ethiopia’s repression

New York, November 5, 2013–As media leaders and officials of regional institutions gather in Addis Ababa this week for the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the participants to ensure that press freedom is squarely on the agenda.

“Leaders have come from across the continent to plot the future of media in Africa, and they must remember that journalists are languishing in Ethiopia’s prisons on trumped-up terrorism charges for doing their jobs,” said Sue Valentine, CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator. “The delegates should use the opportunity provided by this conference to highlight the plight of these persecuted journalists and to acknowledge media freedom is a cornerstone of Africa’s development.”

Ethiopian journalists Reeyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye, Eskinder Nega, Yusuf Getachew, and Solomon Kebede have all been convicted of terrorism offenses. Ethiopia has refused to comply with a ruling by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the case of Eskinder, and another decision by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture in the case of Reeyot. Two more journalists, Getachew Worku and Million Degnew, were recently taken into police custody for reporting on public corruption. Eritrean journalists Saleh Idris and Tesfalidet Kidane have been held in Ethiopia since 2006. The Ethiopian government has not heeded calls by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights or the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to review its overly broad terrorism legislation.