Journalist’s Body Urges Authorities to Release Detained Journalists

The Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) has urged Ethiopian Authorities to immediately release all journalists in jail and bloggers recently arrested.

In a press statement, EAJA said the journalists and bloggers should be released immediately to coincide with this year’s World Press Freedom Day to be marked globally on May 3, adding that Ethiopia has a duty to demonstrate greater commitment to press freedom and respect for human rights.

“We call on Ethiopian Authorities to immediately release the journalists and bloggers arrested last week and to also release all jailed journalists as this consistent crackdown on media workers is not only an affront to press freedom and the right to freedom of expression but also undermines the country’s own constitution and other international instruments,” said EAJA Secretary General Alexander Niyungeko.

According to EAJA’s local affiliate, the Ethiopia National Journalists Union (ENJU) and various media reports, three journalists and six bloggers were arrested last Friday April 25, and Saturday April 26 and detained by the authorities on the strength of an arrest warrant from a public prosecutor.

The press release further added that ENJU expressed concern over the arrests and silence on the part of the government. “We wish to express concern over the arrests and the subsequent silence by the government over the issue. We immediately demand clarification for the government,” said ENJU President Anteneh Abraham.

The journalists arrested reportedly included members of the Zone 9 group, which is known to be critical of government policy, and who have in the process drawn a large following on social media.

The group is accused of using social media to destabilize the country and collaborating with international human rights organizations. They were arrested by armed security forces and taken from their homes to the Federal Police Crime Investigation Sector ‘Maikelawi’.

The arrests came following an April 23 on Facebook posting by the bloggers in which they said they would resume publishing after seven months of inactivity.

Since 2009 and especially after the passage of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which gave the government sweeping powers to arrest those it deemed seditious, including journalists, Ethiopia has carried out a crackdown on journalists and civil society groups leading to the conviction of many stated EAJA.

Source : Catholic Information Service for Africa

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