May 28, 2022
|“These new waves of arrests hugely affect and rolls back the progress witnessed since 2018.” Yared H/Mariam, Executive Director-EHRDC|
With new arrests on May 26, May 27, 2022, and May 28, 2022, of journalist Sabontu Ahmed (Finfinnee Integrated Broadcasting, Bekalu Alamirew (Alpha TV), and Journalist Meaza Muhamed founder of Roha Media which brings the total of detained journalists and media personnel to 19.
The international declaration on the protection of journalists states that safeguarding the safety of journalists is essential and that they play an important role in ensuring citizens’ access to information. Protecting journalists and Human Rights Defenders is essential in ensuring fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the FDRE Constitution, and also it is very important to underscore that the media plays an irreplaceable roles toward building a democratic system in Ethiopia.
Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has overturned the draconian civil society law and released dozens of detained journalists and bloggers. The Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center recognizes and values this efforts. However, most recently the Ethiopian government is diminishing this progress and started arbitrary arrests of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders and also blatantly derogating the due process of law. For instance, on May, 20th of 2022 the police has arrested Journalist Solomon Shumiye a critical voice on his YouTube channel show called Gebeyanu and who hosted a talk show program called ቡና እና ሻይ (Coffee and Tea.) in the past. On May 21, 2022, lecturer and Human Rights activist, Meskerem Abera was arrested when returned to Addis Ababa from Bahir Dar. We confirmed that currently, Meskerem is at “sostegna” police station. In addition to these, five journalists from a local media outlet called Ashara, were also detained on May 19, 2022. These journalists are Daniel Mesfin, Getnet Yalew, Gshaye Niguse, Habtamu Melese and Kelemu Gelagay. Similarly, Addisu Getaneh, a lawyer and human rights advocate was arrested without a court warrant on Monday, May 23, 2022, from his workplace and is currently detained at the “Sostegna” police station in Addis Ababa.
These new waves of arrests hugely affect and diminishes the progress witnessed since 2018. Daniel Bekele, head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, on his tweeter page stated that “ the wave of arrests including journalists and activists fail to comply with human rights standards and has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and media freedom.” However, the Ethiopian government failed to give attention to these calls and has continued arrests. These unlawful arrests are ramped up and the crack comes to Temesgen Desalegn, managing director of the Amharic independent weekly “Fitih” Magazine, and also journalist Yayehsew Shimalis who were taken by security forces on Thursday, 5/26/2022. With new arrests on May 26, May 27, 2022, and May 28, 2022, of journalist Sabontu Ahmed (Finfinnee Integrated Broadcasting, Bekalu Alamirew (Alpha TV), and Journalist Meaza Muhamed founder of Roha Media which brings the total of detained journalists and media personnel to 18.
Article 86 of Media Proclamation No. 1238/2021 clearly gives protection for media personnel to bring promptly before a court, without being remanded. Despite these clear provisions of the law, the government has continued to detain journalists.
Therefore, Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center urges the government to immediately release all arrested Journalists and Human Rights Defenders. If there is a legal cause to arrest them it should follow the due process of law properly. We also reiterate that the relevant authorities should closely monitor the unlawful arrest of these journalists and human rights defenders and also take necessary legal measures in a manner that adheres to human rights principles