The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries, has expressed dismay today and is deeply concerned over the life of at least 15 journalists kept incommunicado in Eritrean prisons.
Since the crackdown on the media and the closure of privately owned newspapers between 18 and 22 September 2001, up to 15 journalists were arrested, kept in custody and accused of threatening the national security and failing to observe the licensing requirements.
“We will not forget about all of our colleagues locked up in jail,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The time for change in Eritrea has come and the first sign of this change should be achieved through the liberation of these journalists”.
Four years later Eritrean officials have continued to refuse to provide information on their whereabouts, health and legal status. These journalists being kept incommunicado without due process represents a gross violation of human rights.
According to government officials “most of the journalists were not experienced and they could have been easily manipulated and infiltrated, especially if there is money involved”.
The IFJ today wrote a letter to President Asayas Afeworki calling on him to release the 15 journalists immediately and to begin a real process of democratic development in the country.
“Eritrea has the worst record in Africa when it comes to attacks on press freedom and journalists rights,” said Arne Konig, Vice President of the Swedish Journalists’ Federation. “Today is the 4th year in prison for our colleague Isaac Dawit who has been locked away without trial and without access by his family and colleagues. We need to mark this anniversary with new efforts to set him free.”
The IFJ is organising meetings to protest over the ongoing crackdown against the Eritrean media in Brussels, Rome, London, Stockholm, Washington, Djibouti, Nairobi and South Africa.
“In particular we are calling on the European Union to raise concerns over human rights and free expression and the continued imprisonment of at our colleagues,” said White. “With several EU projects in Eritrea financed by the European Development Fund (EDF) worth over 150 million euros the Eritrean government must be pushed to respect core democratic principles of human rights and free expression”.
To read the letter to President Asayas Afeworki click here
For further information contact: +32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries