We urge the Ethiopian government to the immediate release of journalists and to stop the restriction of access to the free flow of information.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center (EHRDC) has learned that the unrest related to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has changed its shape and caused great tension and human rights violation in many parts of the country. Following this, some of the social media platforms are restricted in Ethiopia starting from February 9th, 2023, and vocal individuals, media professionals, and persons who exercise their freedom of expression in various platforms and manners are being detained.
The expression of the Orthodox Tewahdo Church members by wearing black clothes from February 6 up to 8th, 2023, was not entertained positively and has resulted in unnecessary harassment and prevention by security forces from entering various government and private institutions for work or services.
EHRDC is highly concerned about the alarming rate of detention of media professionals and restriction of the freedom of opinion and expression. On February 14, 2023, the arrest of popular political analyst and media person Tewodros Asfaw has been taken from his home by the police, and a journalist named Yoseph Ketema from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Tewahdo Church TV is detained on February 13, 2023.
Freedom of opinion and expression is the cornerstone of human rights and one of the pillars of free and democratic societies which enables individuals to enjoy other rights. It is recalled that the FDRE Constitution under Article 29 has guaranteed the right to freedom of expression, access to information of public interest and free flow of information, and freedom of the press and other mass media in the broadest terms. However, the government’s restriction of social media platforms is against this guaranteed Constitutional right and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stipulates the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Therefore, we urge the government to take all measures to release the media professionals that are arbitrarily detained and refrain from further arbitrary detention; to respect and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and access to information by lifting the restriction to the social media platforms.