EHRDC Call for an end to the unlawful detention of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders
May 23, 2022
“Targeting journalists and human rights defenders because of their work might open the door to shrink the media space and pose a threat to a country’s democratization.”
Ethiopian Human Rights Defender Center (EHRDC) is a non-governmental, non-partisan, and non-profit organization established to create a strong national human rights defenders network that is dedicated to protecting and defending human rights defenders. EHRDC was established to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of HRDs. EHRDC has been continuously engaging with human rights defenders and journalists to enhance their capacity and to defend their rights.
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.
EHRDC recalls a statement as the reformed government promising that journalists would be able to operate unperturbed and without scrutiny and arrests. Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has overturned the repressive civil society law and released dozens of detained journalists and bloggers. However, the Ethiopian government risks rolling back the progress it has made on media freedom. EHRDC is highly concerned about the recent arbitrary arrest of journalists and Human Rights Defenders without due process of law.
The police arrested Journalist Solomon Shumye 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. The police also arrested lecturer and Human Rights activist Meskerem Abera on May 21, 2022 when she returned to Addis Ababa from Bahir Dar. EHRDC confirmed that currently, Meskerem is at “sostegna” police station. In addition to that five journalists from local media outlet Ashara, were also detained on May 19, 2022. This new round of arrests is a hugely regressive move that risks rolling back the progress witnessed in 2018. Targeting journalists and human rights defenders because of their work might open the door to shrinking the media space and pose a threat to a country’s democratization. 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.” Therefore EHRDC calls for the immediate release of all arrested journalists. If there is a legal cause to arrest them it should follow a due process of law and their case must be brought before a court of law. The EHRDC also reiterates that the relevant authorities should closely monitor the unlawful arrest of human rights defenders and journalists and take a measure in a manner that strictly adheres to human rights principles and due process of law.