IFJ Condemns “Unacceptable” Threats and Intimidation against Journalists in Ethiopia

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Ethiopian politicians of resorting to threats and intimidation against many Ethiopian journalists in lead up to forthcoming next general elections envisaged for 23 May 2010.

 

“Election times are always a risky period for journalists in many African countries at a time where media have a crucial role for the consolidation of democracy,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “Ethiopian political leaders must respect media as an independent watchdog of the democratic process with the sole duty to inform the citizens,” he added.

 

On Friday 7 May 2010, Amharic weekly Sened reported that one of the independent candidates called its reporters by phone and threatened to kill them for reporting a story about his political activities in his constituency. The journalists, fearing for their lives, were said to have returned to their work place in the capital Addis Ababa without doing their work. They reported the case to the local police.

 

Similarly, the Ethiopian Television has expressed concern over the intimidation of its journalists by leaders of the Federal Democratic Forum Party (The Forum), one of the major contesting parties in the forthcoming election.

 

According to Antenneh Abraham, President of the Ethiopian National Journalists Union (ENJU), an IFJ affiliate, “Political parties have committed themselves to making the upcoming elections free and fair. The code of conduct signed by political parties also stipulates that the media should report the electoral process without the interference of the political parties”.

 

Moreover, two journalists Ayleyesus Hayeleyesus Worku and Abdul-Semed Mohamed from the Ethiopian national television were, arrested on 26 April 2010 and detained by police for allegedly stealing and selling to Al-Jazeera news channel documentaries and copies of TV programs belonging to the national broadcaster. Until now their case has not been filed in court.

 

IFJ calls on all Ethiopian political leaders to keep out of journalists’ affairs and restrain from interference in the way media cover the elections. The last general elections in the country were marred in violence after opposition supporters clashed with police in the streets of Addis Abeba.

 

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