News / Africa

Little to Celebrate in Ethiopia During World Press Freedom Day

FILE - A man reads a newspaper as he walks along a street in Addis Ababa.
FILE - A man reads a newspaper as he walks along a street in Addis Ababa.
Marthe van der Wolf
Ethiopian journalists have little to celebrate during World Press Freedom day Friday, with the arrest last week of nine bloggers and journalists, the continuous harassment of those working in the media and 11 journalists in jail.
 
The East African country is frequently criticized by international organizations for harassing and arresting journalists, and using a 2009 anti-terrorism proclamation to imprison journalists.
 
Human Rights Watch has condemned the recent arrests. Ethiopia researcher for the human rights organization Felix Horne said the media environment in the country is one of the worst in Africa.
 
“The recent arrests of the journalists and the Zone9 bloggers underscore that the media environment is actually getting worse ahead of the 2015 elections instead of getting better. What we see is that independent journalists continue to flee Ethiopia, publications continue to close down, journalists continuously practice self-censorship afraid of the reprisals that may result if they are critical of government policy or perspectives. And we see that independent media sites are frequently blocked,” said Horne.
 
Human Rights Watch believes the international community should do more to push Ethiopia to open up its media space.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ethiopia this week and was asked by local journalists if his concern about press freedom was real or "just lip service," as the matter is frequently raised without any real change.
 
Kerry said he met one of the bloggers last year and called for the release of the arrested bloggers and journalists when speaking to Ethiopian officials such as Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgen.
 
“I make clear to Ethiopian officials that they need to create greater opportunities for citizens. To be able to engage with their fellow citizens and with their government by opening up more space for civil society. And we shouldn’t use the anti-terrorism proclamations as mechanisms to be able to curb the free exchange of ideas,” said Kerry.
 
With 11 journalists imprisoned, Ethiopia ranks 143 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom index for 2014. Last year, UNESCO’s World Press Freedom prize was awarded to imprisoned Ethiopian journalists Reeyot Alemu.
 
Government officials have repeatedly said that whenever journalists are involved in criminal activities, they will go through the same process as any other criminal.
 
Tamrat Gebregiorgis, the managing editor of the English weekly newspaper Fortune, said that the truth is somewhere in the middle when it comes to the perception that the Ethiopian government is brutal to the media.
 
“There are too many elements - society, culture, history. Those are all factors that affect to the extend journalists are operating. This is not an ideal environment where you can publish anything you want and get away with. It’s not as doomy and gloomy as many critics of the government tried to portray. That there is no room to criticize the government and report stories that deem negative to the authority or power that be. It is possible, at the same time it is difficult, it is somewhere in the gray area,” said Gebregiorgis.
 
Ethiopia’s human rights situation will be assessed next week by the United Nations, known as the Universal Periodic Review. Despite Ethiopia’s poor human rights record, it is part of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid