Africa cases 2003: Country List    I   Africa Regional Home Page
How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

APRIL 29, 2003

Melese Shine, Ethiop

Shine, editor-in-chief of the independent, Amharic-language weekly Ethiop, was charged with defamation under Ethiopia's Press Proclamation No. 34/1992. The charge came after Ethiop published a letter to the editor in November 2001 alleging that Melkamu Gettu, the administrator of the state-owned Ras Desta Hospital in the capital, Addis Ababa, had embezzled hospital funds.

In an April 29 court hearing, the public prosecutor requested that Shine be denied bail because the journalist had violated the Press Law several times. The court refused to rule on Shine's bail request that day and ordered him to remain in custody until a verdict on his bail was rendered—a decision that local sources say is highly unusual. Journalists in Addis Ababa expressed shock that a press offense could result in the denial of bail, a ruling usually reserved for the most serious crimes.

On October 1, Shine was released from the Addis Ababa Prison Center, where he had been imprisoned since April 29, according to sources in Ethiopia.

MAY 14, 2003

Wosonseged Gebrekidan, Ethiop

Gebrekidan, deputy editor-in-chief of the independent, Amharic-language weekly Ethiop, was charged with defamation under Press Proclamation No. 34/1992. The charge came after a May 2002 letter to the editor criticized Habtemariam Seyoum, a former Ethiopian ambassador to France, for misinforming the public about compensation claims from the Ethiopia-Eritrea war.

Gebrekidan appeared before an Addis Ababa court on May 14 and was jailed because he was unable to pay the 2,000 birr (US$240) bail. He was released on May 16 after fellow journalists secured his bail.

NOVEMBER 12, 2003
Posted: November 12, 2003

Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA)

EFJA received a letter from the Justice Ministry, announcing that the organization was suspended because of failure to comply with audit and licensing requirements.

EFJA president, Kifle Mulat, said the organization was being targeted for political reasons, but the government said EFJA had not complied with the law.

The Justice Ministry letter, dated November 9, ordered EFJA to stop all work except for "activity to audit the finance of the association."

Ethiopian law requires that civil organizations submit annual audit reports on their finances to the Justice Ministry.

OCTOBER 9, 2003

Wosonseged Gebrekidan, Ethiop

Police summoned Gebrekidan, editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language weekly Ethiop, to the Central Investigation Department in the capital, Addis Ababa. Gebrekidan was released the same day after paying bail. According to local journalists, the charges against the journalist are unclear.

Sources in Addis Ababa told CPJ that the summons stemmed from an article that ran in Ethiop in April discussing a newly ratified law mandating the creation of a national reserve army in Ethiopia. The Ethiop article alleged that the law had reinstated a "national service," implying that participation in the army would be mandatory, according to local journalists.