- The journalists’ organisation has expressed concerns about increasing restrictions on press freedom in Ethiopia in the wake of the pending adoption of an anti-terror legislation.
The Ethiopian government has passed the Anti-Terror Proclamation which seriously restricts freedom of expression and of assembly in the Horn of Africa state in the run up to the 2010 parliamentary elections.
According to a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the legislation would further restrict press freedom in Ethiopia, stating that an ongoing pattern of criminal prosecutions, administrative restrictions, and Internet censorship would further restrict media freedom.
“We are concerned that these measures, which official rhetoric has publicly justified as policies to safeguard the constitutional order, actually criminalise independent political coverage and infringe on press freedom as guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution,” CPJ said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives has reportedly passed the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation on 7 July despite concerns raised by legal experts, lawmakers, and the private press about sweeping statutes that restrict fundamental constitutional rights, including press freedom.
The proclamation contains statutes giving the executive branch sweeping powers to imprison for as long as 20 years. It also effectively institutionalises censorship of reporting the government.
“Worse, the law grants the federal police and national security agency exclusive discretion to carry out warrantless interception of communications, and search and seizure solely on the basis of reasonable belief that a terrorist act is in progress or will be committed,” it said.
The law stiffened existing penalties for libel and granted government prosecutors the exclusive discretion to summarily block any publication for national security, but bans pretrial detentions of journalists.
CPJ has urged the Ethiopian government to amend statutes in the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation that undermine constitutional rights to press freedom.
The law which comprises 38 sections was proposed last year after a string of bomb attacks in the capital Addis Ababa. The law lays a foundation for arrests and searches without court warrants in the country.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.