News / Africa

CPJ Calls for Release of Jailed Reporters in Ethiopia

VOA's Peter Heinlein shown in this Aug. 13, 2011 file photo was recently jailed by Ethiopian authorities. (VOA Photo/G. Joselow)VOA's Peter Heinlein shown in this Aug. 13, 2011 file photo was recently jailed by Ethiopian authorities. (VOA Photo/G. Joselow)
VOA's Peter Heinlein shown in this Aug. 13, 2011 file photo was recently jailed by Ethiopian authorities. (VOA Photo/G. Joselow)
VOA's Peter Heinlein shown in this Aug. 13, 2011 file photo was recently jailed by Ethiopian authorities. (VOA Photo/G. Joselow)
Alex Pena
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has discussed what it calls repressive and harsh treatment of the media with high-ranking members of Ethiopia's government.  

Board members from the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Africa Media Initiative met with a senior figure in the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi this week, and called for the release of journalists being held in the country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says Ethiopia is holding eight journalists in prison, only neighboring Eritrea holds more jailed journalists in Africa.

The two-hour-long meeting in Addis Ababa focused on those journalists and Ethiopia's overall treatment of independent media.  Independent publishers and media members say the country's very broad 2009 anti-terrorism law has had a "chilling" effect on press freedom in the private media sector.

The law allows lengthy prison sentences for reporting that gives encouragement to groups the government labels terrorists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says authorities are holding three Ethiopian journalists and two Swedish journalists on charges of anti-government plots and terrorism.  All the journalists have denied wrongdoing.

CPJ representative in Nairobi, Tom Rhodes, says the journalists are being held on "trumped-up" terrorism charges.

"None us thought for example that these two Swedish journalists Martin [Shibbye] and Johan [Perrson] would be detained for this long, and yet they have been, which makes us think they may be there for the long haul," said Rhodes.

According to a CPJ press release, Ethiopian officials say the law is not an instrument for censorship or to attack press freedom, but rather is used to help Ethiopians enjoy their constitutional rights.

Under the law, prominent journalists who have been critical of the government and human rights in Ethiopia face extreme jail sentences.

"Eskinder Nega, who is quite an active voice in Ethiopia, and he is facing a life sentence, and that is not only a great shame for Eskinder, but for the Ethiopian people," added Rhodes.  "He sort of represents the voice struggling to push for democracy and to have these sorts of selfless voices silenced is really a tragedy."

Last month, VOA News Correspondent Peter Heinlein was arrested and held overnight in Addis Ababa on charges of "illegal reporting."

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the government expressed support for it and the African Media Initiative to host seminars and workshops in hopes of strengthening the country's independent media.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Al from: U.S.
June 15, 2012 3:26 PM
Agent Adv Trek, you called my response "spit[ing] venom at others with different views"....we call it FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!

First, I'm amused that you even recognize the term "human rights and free speech" exist!! Second, you didn't get the essence of freedom of speech - that's the reason you called it spit[ing] venom at others with different views" and labelled it as "terrorism". Because, you only understand the definition as your political party defined it - which is as TERRORISM!!! Third, again - I'm amazed that you can even spell the word "freedom" - since it's was 21 year ago since you've ever spelled it (I bet you're more familiar with words - like oppression, killing, torture, genocide, etc.)

But, if you stopped to think, I want to remind you that this is ALL the reason why the Ethiopian people died fought for and won over 21 years ago ...

Speaking of Facts, you (Agent Adv Trek) are one of the few (0.78%) Ethiopians who have internet access (for the purpose of spreading your political party propaganda). We are the 99.22% Ethiopians, HRW, CPJ, Amnesty International, U.S. State Dept Human Rights Report - who says you're repressive and terrorist regime. THAT'S THE FACT!! what "fact" do you have on your side that you can proof with independent party??!!

by: Adv Trek from: Terra firma
June 14, 2012 6:01 AM
Always amusing how those who claim to champion human rights and free speech are the very people who spit venom at others with different views.

You are all entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Shalom!

by: Al from: U.S
June 13, 2012 2:55 PM
Unless this whole thing is a mockery on Ethiopian people, there's one, and ONLY one, way to stop all this tragedy. And , CPJ knows this perfectly's to STOP THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FROM SUSTAINING THE LIFE BLOOD OF THE ETHIOPIAN REGIME by cutting off the aid money.

CPJ can't stop the Ethiopian regime from the continuation of the current policy (repression, torture, human rights violation, etc). But, they can stop and/or expose the current U.S. president and policy-makers from writing a blank check to Ethiopian governement - in the name of aid.

@Adv Trek, how much are you getting paid to sale your country and conscience? ... Eskinder Nega is "...not employed by any professional news media" Really?! what professional news media exist in Ethiopia since the rule of EHS or modern Ethiopian history?!?! .... Mengistu overthrew EHS and controlled ETV and EthRadio, Meles overthrew Mengistu and controlled ETV and EthRadio ... @Adv Trek, I think you're the most ignorant agent Meles ever hired!!!

by: Dechisa
June 12, 2012 8:54 PM
Q.How is it possible One ignorant prime minister stays in office for 20 years?
A.Because there is no voting or if there is the prime minister stole people's voice.Then to hide the truth, he kills,jails,tortures journalists who are the voice of the voiceless.

by: EU, AU, NATO, UN,... from: Sweden
June 12, 2012 5:16 PM
Those whose interests are to lead by Weapons are Terrorists.
Those who are afraid of journalists are hiding very sensitive information that they don't want the World to know.
Those who stayed more than Eight Years in Office, as a Prime Minister or as a President are very dangerous and they must vacate their place immediately, before they caused enormous damages.

Journalists are the voices of the people. They deserve RESPECT.

by: Adv Trek from: EU & AU
June 12, 2012 2:31 PM
The facts, which will hypocritically be deleted:

The two Swedish reporters, admittedly, were caught with armed Somali gunmen they paid to cross into Ethiopian border illegally, which resulted in a gun battle with many deaths.

VOA correspondent Peter Heinlein was temporarily detained after attempting to illegally use a borrowed diplomatic vehicle to bypass a roadblock.

Eskinder Nega is in jail, again, for continually posting inflammatory articles peppered with ethnic undertones, in the hopes of mobilizing public unrest (he is a profit based web blogger, not employed by any professional news media).

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs