Reporters Without Borders lobby group has voiced concern about the harsh climate for journalists in recent weeks in Ethiopia.
In a letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the journalists have asked him to consult with them in order to find ways to amend the code of conduct governing election reporting, that was adopted in March.
The letter also urged the authorities to stop jamming Voice of America’s Amharic-language broadcasts and raised the case of two journalists employed by the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) who have been detained for more than a week.
“The climate of fear that we condemned in December 2009, when the weekly Addis Neger decided to stop publishing, seems as palpable as ever in Ethiopia as the country approaches the 23 May general election,” the letter said.
“We bring to your attention… what we consider an apparent and intimidating effect of the measures taken by your government on journalists, restricting news coverage, and limiting pluralistic views and open criticism.”
Referring to the two ERTA journalists, the letter said: “We strongly urge the Ethiopian justice to give Haileyesus Worku and Abdulsemed Mohammed a fair trial, one that establishes whether or not the charges brought against them are well-founded. In the meantime, we call for their provisional release.”
Arrested by members of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on 26 April, producer Worku and reporter Mohammed are alleged to have stolen and sold national television programmes to the international TV station Al Jazeera.
They were brought before a federal court on April 30 but were not formally indicted. The judge adjourned the proceedings until May 10.
Source: Daily nation