By Sisay Sahlu
ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopian government is on the receiving end of compliments at World Press Freedom Events in Addis Abeba after freeing jailed journalists as part of its new administration sweeping reforms.
Earlier this week Committee to Protect Journalists attested that the east African nation currently has no journalists behind bars and new publications are flourishing on various platforms.
The country has also unblocked over 260 websites and welcomed journalists who had been banned returned home.
Audrey Azoulay, Director General of the UNESCO, praised Ethiopia’s government moves over the past twelve months as “commendable work” in an event that celebrates UNESCO World Press Freedom Day on Thursday.
The reform, she said, is “a positive step” towards the Ethiopia’s effort to democratize Ethiopia – which will hold a general election next year.
Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of UN ECA, too praised Ethiopia for improving its rank in the World Press Freedom Index that was released two weeks before.
The horn of African nation has jumped 40 places in the Reporters without Borders’ 2019 Index, from ranking 150 in 2017 to 110 in 2018.
Visiting British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the audience that media freedom is not a “Western” value or a “luxury” for developing countries.“Ethiopia’s democratic reforms are inspiring people across the whole world,” he said.
“I am proud Britain can support” this country, said Jeremy, who announced a £15.5m of UK aid money to help Ethiopia run transparent, free and fair elections in May, 2020.
His office said, if successful and peaceful, the elections “will be a major step towards building a democratic culture” in the country.
The aid, apart from building the capacity of the National Election Board, is expected to finance efforts to prevent electoral violence through enhanced monitoring and early warning to improve effectiveness of electoral dispute mechanism, said the office.