The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) has today called on the government of Ethiopia to free all journalists in jail and to create the conditions for tens of journalists in exile to return home and work for their country’s development.
“We are very concerned about persistent reports of press freedom violations in Ethiopia and the increasing number of journalists in jail and in exile” said Mohamed Garba, President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ).
“I join the call for the Ethiopian Government to engage the media through genuine dialogue and self-regulation.”
The Ethiopian Government Minister for Communication Affairs, Mr. Redwan Hussien on Thursday 18 September received a three-man delegation comprising Muheldin Titawi, President of the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA), Alexandre Niyungeko, Secretary General of EAJA, and the Africa Director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Gabriel Baglo.
The delegation paid a courtesy visit to Minister Hussien on the sidelines of a workshop on investigative journalism and corruption reporting for a group of 20 Ethiopian Journalists co-organized by the Ethiopian National Journalists Union (ENJU) and Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) in Addis Ababa.
Addressing the delegation, the Minister said Ethiopia is committed to ensuring freedom of expression, and expressed Ethiopia’s support to bring the issue of journalists’ safety in the upcoming Summit of African Union Heads of State.
The minister briefed the delegation about the recent court ruling that closed six publications which resulted in 14 journalists going into exile. The Minister said that the journalists had no justification to run away as they were not charged.
He reiterated the commitment of the Ethiopian government to respect the diversity of thoughts as long as ethical journalism is exercised. He said Ethiopia’s democracy is based on accepting and acknowledging ethnic, religious and ideological differences and this is manifested in the Constitution which everyone should uphold.
The delegation reminded the Minister that in the region, Ethiopia and Eritrea have produced more journalists in jail and in exile, and that this is a bad image for the country that hosts the African Union Commission.
The delegation called on the Ethiopian Government to release all journalists in jail and to create the conditions for the return of all journalists in exile. The delegation expressed the commitment of African journalists’ organisations to work with the Ethiopian government and with journalists for the creation and support for ethical media reporting through self-regulation.
“We are here to support African journalism with African values; we are ready to give any support to Ethiopian journalists in the light of African shared values and African Union instruments such as the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa, and the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance” said the delegation.