News / Africa

CPJ Slams Ethiopian Court Ruling on Journalists

Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists (File Photo)
Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists (File Photo)
Tom Rhodes

An Ethiopian court has sentenced two Swedish journalists to 11 years each in prison for charges of supporting terrorism and entering the country illegally. Mohammed Yusuf for VOA spoke to Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for his take on the court ruling.

Yusuf: As an organization which promotes press freedom and defending the rights of journalists, what do you make of the ruling of the Ethiopian court to sentence two Swedish journalists to 11 years in prison?

Rhodes: We feel like this is a politicized court case and it’s more a sort of indicator of the insecurities of the ruling party rather than a legitimate rebuttal for what these journalists did. I mean you know the Swedish government, CPJ and press freedom organizations and other journalists within Ethiopia itself have all said the same thing: these two were journalists doing their job. Yes, they crossed illegally and this was an offense but this idea of them promoting terrorism just seems like a politicized move in that part.

Yusuf: Did the journalists break the law?

Rhodes: You know the only law they broke and even admitted it quite openly is crossing over the border illegally. But I can’t think of any country in the world where one gets 11 years imprisonment for crossing the border illegally. This is the only offense I think. It’s unfortunately what is bogging us down is the 2009 anti-terrorism law which clearly is used far too easily in a sweeping fashion to suppress.

Yusuf: Do you think they had a fair trial?

Rhodes: No not at all. You know first, we had the prime minister himself publicly declaring that they are terrorists before even the trial began. Another did it on less direct terms but he also made the same comment in parliament two weeks later. So in my view and the view of CPJ we feel that the outcome was already predicted before the court case began.

Yusuf: Today’s (Tuesday's) ruling, what does it say about Ethiopia's record on press freedom?

Rhodes: My fear is that we are going back in time where we are returning to the dark days of 2005 when there was a mass crackdown on journalists after the elections. I am also afraid that Ethiopia, whose press freedom was always to some extent - actually quite a significant extent - better than their neighbors, Eritrea, is now sinking into the same level of their neighbors.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More