ADDIS ABEBA – Amnesty International says Ethiopia risks rolling back the great progress it made on media freedom last year after the government announced plans to charge journalists and media outlets for their reporting on the armed forces.
Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has overturned the repressive civil society law and released dozens of detained journalists and bloggers.
By the end of 2018, not a single journalist remained behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and, in 2019, Ethiopia leapt 40 places up the World Press Freedom Index.
However, following an arrest of Berihun Adane, Editor-in-Chief of the privately-owned Asrat TV, on 26 June, the Ministry of Defence announced this week plans to charge journalists and media houses for “publishing defamatory information about the Ethiopia National Defence Forces”.
“After making great strides on press freedom, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government received glowing tributes, and the honor of hosting this year’s World Press Freedom Day event,” Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said.
“This new round of arrests is a hugely regressive move that risks rolling back the progress witnessed in 2018. All journalists arrested must be immediately released and all charges against them unconditionally dropped,” Nyanyuki added.