Two of the world’s leading press freedom groups, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have criticised the failure of the Ethiopian government to inform the domestic media, civil society and the international community of crucial amendments to the draft press law, as well as set-out a transparent legislative process for the law.
According to information provided to IPI and IFJ, the Ethiopian Minister of Information, Bereket Simon indicated on 27 February that he intended to submit the draft press law to the Council of Ministers by 5 March. As a result, unless the newly amended law is provided for external comment, there will be no discussion of the law until the bill reaches parliament.
“The entire process for the passage of the bill now appears shrouded in almost total secrecy,” said Johann P. Fritz, IPI Director. “The Ethiopian government appears determined to push the law through without additional comment. It suggests that many of the law’s discriminatory sections have been retained. The Ethiopian government should show good faith and publish the amended law for further comment before going ahead.”
“The failure to allow public comment will undermine the credibility of the process and weaken the law,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “In this case, more than most, it is vital to have open government.”
The IFJ and IPI are calling on the Ethiopian government to recognize the fundamental role of a free press in the development of a democratic and open society.
For further information contact:
International Federation of Journalists: + 32 2 235 22 00
International Press Institute: + 43 1 512 9011