Jimi’ie Kimeil, an investigative journalist and sports editor of the state-run Arabic-language newspaper Eritrea al-Haditha, was arrested in 2005 in a wave of arrests of other prominent figures in Eritrea. The reason for his arrest, whereabouts, and health are unknown. CPJ is aware of reports that Jimi’ie died in detention in 2007 but has not been able to confirm this independently.
Eritrean authorities arrested Jim’ie in November 2005, according to research by the diaspora-run Radio Erena, and Mohammed Hiyabu, an exiled journalist who told CPJ that he previously worked with Jim’ie and wrote a report about him published by the PEN Eritrea artists’ organization. According to Mohammed’s report, authorities arrested Jim’ie on November 24, 2005. The government of Eritrea has never confirmed his imprisonment.
Authorities detained Jim’ie in a wave of arrests of 13 other prominent figures in politics and the arts, according to Mohammed.
Prior to his arrest, the journalist’s criticism of the government had caused tension with his employer, Eritrea al-Haditha, which is published by Eritrea’s information ministry, according to Mohammed.
Mohammed said Jim’ie often criticized government policies at staff meetings at the information ministry. In one example of critical reporting in 2001, Jim’ie wrote about a government decision to give a visiting International Olympic Committee delegate a cross, a symbol that he argued was an inappropriate representation of a multi-religious country. After the article was published, authorities warned Jim’ie to cease critical writing.
Radio Erena and PEN Eritrea have reported rumors that Jim’ie was killed in 2007 but said they had not independently confirmed that the journalist was killed. CPJ also has been unable to confirm the reports independently and lists Jim’ie on the prison census to hold the government accountable for his fate.
When CPJ contacted the Eritrean Ministry of Information in late 2018 to inquire about the well-being of the country’s imprisoned journalists, Paulos Netabay, director of the state-owned Eritrean News Agency, responded on behalf of the ministry but did not address Jim’ie’s case.
In June 2019, a group of over 100 prominent African journalists, writers, and activists wrote an open letter to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki asking to visit the imprisoned journalists and activists, according to a copy of the letter that was published by the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian. In a response published on its website, Eritrea’s Ministry of Information said that only reporters with a “genuine interest in understanding the country” were welcome and said the imprisoned journalists were arrested for “events of sedition.”
In October 2021, CPJ and 15 other human rights organizations, journalists, and human rights experts called on the Canadian government to impose targeted sanctions on senior Eritrean officials for human rights abuses, including the imprisonment of journalists.
In July 2022, CPJ and a coalition of rights organizations and lawyers, led by the Canada-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, filed a complaint on behalf of detained Eritrean journalists with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
CPJ’s calls to Eritrea’s Ministry of Justice either did not connect or rung without an answer in November 2022. A person who answered when CPJ called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November 2022 could not be heard clearly.
Emails sent to Eritrea’s minister of information, Yemane Ghebremeskel, and Eritrea’s embassies in Kenya, the United States, Switzerland, and Sweden, were unanswered or returned error messages in October and November 2022.