Monday, July 15, 2024

National Press Club Statement Urging Release of Wrongfully Detained Journalists

“The rapidly deteriorating press freedom climate in Ethiopia is of grave concern with conditions worsening by the week. According to the head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, there are 19 journalists and media workers being unlawfully detained by the government. Ethiopian authorities have reportedly justified their media crackdown by claiming those detained were sympathetic with rebel groups. But as the head of the country’s own human rights body has noted, pre-trial detentions of journalists accused of committing a legal offense through their press work are now illegal under the government’s own recently adopted media law. We call for the immediate release of all those journalists and media personnel unlawfully detained.

“Furthermore, we condemn the central government’s statement in recent days that it would pursue ‘irreversible measures’ against individuals ‘wearing a cloak of media outlets and journalists’ if they do not adhere to the government’s preferred narrative. Draconian threats like that have no place in any society but particularly in a country such as Ethiopia, which has a long history in Africa as a regional leader and aspirations of becoming one of the continent’s leading economies in the years ahead. This turn of events in Ethiopia is particularly disappointing given hopes in 2018 that the national government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would be supportive of a robust and independent press after decades of repression and the targeting of journalists by the previous government.”

Jen Judson, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

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