News / Africa

Rights Group Calls for Release of Imprisoned Journalists in Eritrea

On the 19th anniversary of Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia, international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders is renewing an appeal for the release of more than two dozen journalists imprisoned by the Eritrean government.  

Describing Eritrea as Africa's "biggest prison" for journalists, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders says no Eritrean citizen should celebrate independence day without considering the plight of about 30 journalists who are being unlawfully detained and treated inhumanely in various prisons throughout the country.

The head of the media watchdog's Africa desk, Ambroise Pierre says after a hopeful start in 1991 as a state committed to democracy, Eritrea has emerged in the past decade as a repressive dictatorship under President Issayas Afeworki.

"One can remember when President [Bill] Clinton in the [19]90s was saying about President Afeworki, that he was an example for the new generation of African leaders," he said. "But all of this changed between 1998 and 2001.  What happened is that Eritrea had a new war against its neighbor Ethiopia - a border dispute - and this new war convinced President Afework that his country was under constant threat.  So, from 2001 up to now, he suspended all freedoms in his country and he considers any criticism as a threat to national security."

Early this month, Reporters Without Borders named Eritrea as the worst press freedom abuser.   

The organization published testimony from a refugee in Ethiopia, who, until recently, worked as a guard at the notorious Eiraeiro prison for dissidents in northeast Eritrea.  Pierre says the former guard confirmed what Reporters Without Borders had long feared - that at least four journalists, who were arrested nine years ago, are being held in harsh conditions at the prison.

"We know that in this prison camp, some journalists have already died between 2001 and today," he said. "It is a detention center that is almost a torture and a death camp.  The state of media freedom in Eritrea is not only bad, it is a catastrophe.  It is really a shame for the country.  It is a shame for Africa."

Although Eritrea has no privately owned media, the government insists journalists have the freedom to report any story they choose.  The government in Asmara has repeatedly denied allegations that it violates media and human rights.    

On May 24, 1991, Eritrea became Africa's newest nation-state after a bloody 30-year struggle for independence from neighboring Ethiopia.

Eritrea was formally recognized by the international community two years later.

In recent years, Eritrea has been accused of fighting a proxy war against Ethiopia in Somalia by supporting Islamist groups opposed to Somalia's Ethiopia-friendly Transitional Federal Government.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused 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.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid