ARTICLE 19 is concerned with the arrests of at least 16 journalists in Ethiopia. We call on the government to unconditionally release them and stop intimidating the media.
According to reports, the authorities have justified arrests of media personnel, which took place over the last seven days, by accusing them of siding with rebels from the Amhara region. Those detained include Temesgen Desalegn (Feteh Magazine), Yayesew Shimelis (Ethio Forum Media), Gashaye Nigussie (Ashara Media), Getenet Yalew (Ashara Media), Habtamu Melese(Ashara Media), Daniel Mesfin (Ashara Media), Kelemu Gelagay (Ashara Media), four unidentified employees of Nisir International Broadcasting, Meskerem Abera (Ethio Nekat Media), Meaza Mohammod (Roha Media), Bekalu Alamirew (Alpha TV), Sebontu Ahimed (Finfine integrated broadcasting), and Solomon Shumeye (Gebeyanu Media).
“The government must immediately release the journalists and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is fully protected in line with international standards. It should not use the ongoing conflict to intimidate the media,” said Mugambi Kiai, Regional Director ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.
On 24 March 2022, Ethiopian authorities announced a ceasefire to the sixteen-month civil war that has continued in the Amhara and Oromiya regions. Despite this, the government has continued military operations in these regions.
The recent arrests are part of a pattern of intimidation and harassment against the media, as the Ethiopian government attempts to gag the flow of information regarding the ongoing conflict. On 20 May, the Federal Government Communication Service reportedly put out a statement warning the media, “The government will continue to take irreversible measures on individuals involved in illegal activities who are planning and working to create havoc and chaos, also on those wearing a cloak of media outlets and journalists.” On 8 November 2021, Ethiopia shut down social media and messaging services including Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. These services were restored four days later. On 20 November 2021, The Ethiopian Media Authority sent warning letters to several media houses in Ethiopia, including Associated Press (AP), CNN, BBC and Reuters, for reporting on the ongoing conflict. The Authority accused the media outlets of manufacturing and disseminating false news and news analyses on Ethiopia.
For more information please Contact Mugambi Kiai at [email protected], Regional Director for ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.