“This is a trial of shame, this is a trial in breach of
international law”, said Arne König, President of the European Federation of
Journalists (EFJ), commenting on the trial of two Swedish journalists on
terrorism charges that started today in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.
The two journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were
captured by Ethiopian forces when entering the Ogaden province of Ethiopia
in early July. They have since been held in jail and today they will stand
in an Ethiopian court accused of terrorism.
The two colleagues are working journalists who went to Ethiopia to
investigate reports of human rights abuses and the fight for oil interests in
the area. They entered Ethiopian territory without a permit, which normally would
result in their expulsion from the country, as with other
journalists before them. Instead, they were arrested and charged with
terrorism as a result of engaging in a normal and vital act of journalism.
“In the shadow of the 9/11 attacks on the US, many
governments have used anti-terror laws to silence journalists,” said König. In
the United Kingdom
many photographers working and covering demonstrations wear T-shirts saying “I´m
a Photographer, Not a Terrorist. The same applies to our Swedish colleagues who
were investigating claims by the organisation Human Rights Watch, that human
rights were being violated on a massive scale in Ogaden.
“The Ethiopian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation is extremely wide in
its interpretation”, says the EFJ. The law is violating several rights and
basic principles of justice in international law, among them the United
Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the International Red Cross
interpretation of the Geneva Convention. To classify demonstrations and other
forms of expressing opinions as terrorist acts for example is against the
international definition of terrorism.
Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson are accused of committing
terrorist acts, and of connections with the anti-government armed guerrillas,
the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). If found guilty the two
journalists could face up to 40 years in prison.
The EFJ is demanding the immediate release of our two colleagues,
says Arne König.
represents over 260,000 journalists in 30 countries
For more information contact: Arne König, 0046.705177530or the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200