Melese Shine

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Shine, editor of the intermittently distributed private Amharic weekly Ethiop, was charged with disseminating false information that endangers national security, under Article 10/20/1 of Press Proclamation 34/1992 and Article 480(b) of the Penal Code.

The charge resulted from an article published in Ethiop in September 2000 entitled, “Eritrean Opposition Forces Being Trained in Areas of Rama and Assayita.” Shine’s arrest seems to have been triggered by the claim that Ethiopia was organizing Eritrean opposition forces as a retaliatory measure.

The Federal High Court had recently reduced bail requirements for violations of the Press Law. In Shine’s case, however, the court demanded bail of 10,000 birr (US$1200), an exorbitant sum for an independent journalist in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the trial was postponed until October 2001.

With the help of international press-freedom groups, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association was able to raise enough money to pay Shine’s bail, and complete all other necessary formalities to secure the journalist’s release. On January 6, 2001, the Federal High Court ordered Shine’s release; he was freed the next day.