Ethiopian Government’s Empty Promise on Press Freedom
FROM THE EDITOR
October 7, 2016
On Oct 3, 2016 in an interview with BBC , the new communication minister of the TPLF led government in Ethiopia Dr Negeri Lenco has said that he” is committed to press freedom”. However, the question is whether his statement reflective of the government he is representing and if so what is the steps he and his government should take right now to demonstrate their “commitment to press freedom” .
It is now evident that for years, the government in Ethiopia has been among the top suppressors of press freedom in the entire world and of course among the top three “enemies of the press” in the entire Africa.
According to CPJ “With 17 journalists behind bars as of December 1, 2015 Ethiopia was the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea. “
According to Freedom House, the status of freedom in 2015 is ranked as follows: Press freedom, not free ; Internet freedom, not free, Legal environment worst, Political environment worst.
According to CPJ, just few weeks ago , the government arrested a well know blogger and lecturer at Ambo university , Seyoum Teshome.
Reporters Without Boarder explains the situation about freedom of expression in Ethiopia as follows:” Ever since the 2009 anti-terrorism law took effect, terrorism charges have been systematically used against journalists. The charges carry long jail sentences and allow the authorities to hold journalists without trial for extended periods. There has been little improvement since the purges that led to the closure of six newspapers in 2014 and drove around 30 journalists into exile. Physical and verbal threats, arbitrary trials and convictions are all used to silence the media “ .
This is the reality of freedom of the press in Ethiopia for the last 25 years. Hence, we urge the new minister and his government to go beyond rhetoric and demonstrate in action their “ commitment to press freedom” by setting free all journalists imprisoned for political reasons i.e Eskindir Nega, Temsegen Desalegn, blogger Seyoum Teshome and many others and by repealing the repressive laws that made speaking the truth a crime . As the saying goes, Action speaks louder than words. It is one thing to say we are “committed to press freedom” but completely different to walk the talk. Ethiopians demand and deserve full respect of their human rights.