IFJ Calls for End to Media Crackdown in Eritrea

The International Federation of Journalists today called for the immediate release of a Voice of America (VOA) radio journalist, after government security agents arrested him last week.

On July 8, journalist Aklilu Solomon, who works for VOA’s Horn of Africa Service, was arrested and taken to a military camp. Supposedly, his detention was a result of his failure to complete the obligatory 18 months of national service in the army. However, according to VOA, Solomon had documents proving that he had already completed a part of his service and was exempt from the rest for medical reasons.

Instead, reports have indicated that Aklilu’s arrest was connected to a document he produced for VOA on June 23, in which he contradicted the Eritrean state-run media account of family reactions to the deaths of Eritrean soldiers killed in the 1998-2000 conflict with Ethiopia.

“Such disregard for the fundamental rights’ of journalists to report freely and critically, reflects the deplorable state of the media in Eritrea”, said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. This growing journalistic prison serves only to attract attention to the country for all the wrong reasons.

In September 2001, the government of Eritrea closed all private media outlets in the nation, and currently holds 19 journalists in custody, primarily in unspecified locations.

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00

The IFJ represents over 500, 000 journalists in more than 100 countries