See also:
» 28.01.2011 - African leaders in Ethiopia land grab
» 04.03.2010 - Ethiopian project sets world climate change example
» 04.03.2010 - Mercenary activities focus at Addis Ababa meeting
» 25.02.2010 - Ethiopia calls for back-up
» 17.02.2010 - Somali refugees moved to Ethiopia
» 15.02.2010 - Ethiopia and UK leaders to head climate change team
» 02.02.2010 - African leaders tackle malaria
» 28.01.2010 - Underdevelopment pose serious threat to Africa, Ban

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CPJ worried on new anti-terror legislation

afrol News, 24 July - 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.

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