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News: Ethiopia takes third place in Africa for journalist incarceration, trailing behind Eritrea and Egypt

(Photo: Innocence Project)

Addis Abeba – Ethiopia has been designated as the third-worst country in Africa for the incarceration of journalists in 2023, according to a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The tally of imprisoned Ethiopian journalists has surged to eight, underscoring the formidable challenges prevailing in the nation’s media landscape.

The escalation in the incarceration of journalists in Ethiopia persists notwithstanding the ratification of the Pretoria Peace Agreement in November 2022, thereby concluding a two-year war.

Despite the formal cessation of hostilities in the Tigray region, certain areas in Ethiopia continue to experience unrest, particularly in the Amhara region, where confrontations persist between non-state militias, Fano, and federal forces. Notably, all eight journalists documented in the CPJ’s census were apprehended in 2023 subsequent to their coverage of the protracted conflict in the Amhara region.

In April last year, Ethiopian Mass Media Professionals Association (EMMPA) has called on the government to “immediately release” all media professionals that are detained by security forces “without any legal procedure”. In a statement it issued today, the Association also urged for an end to harassment and intimidation that media professionals are facing in Ethiopia.

The Association said that as of late, the space in which media professionals are functioning in Ethiopia is increasingly narrowing down, whereas accounts of intimidation and humiliation of journalists and media professionals by security forces are on the rise.

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EMMPA listed at least six journalists, including Dawit Begashau, editor of YouTube based “Arat Kilo Media”, and a member of the executive committee and head of foreign and public relations of the the Association itself as have been in police custody at the time of its report.

Other journalists and media professionals detained by the police and corroborated by the Association include journalists whose detentions were reported by Addis Standard including Genet Asmamaw, Tewdros Asfaw, Aragaw Sisay, Getnet Ashagare, and Beyene Wolde.

In addition to Ethiopia, CPJ’s latest report underscored instances of media crackdowns in various African nations. Eritrea, with a total of 16 incarcerated journalists, is identified as the seventh-most significant global incarcerator of journalists and the foremost on the African continent.

In addition, none of the journalists detained in Eritrea have faced formal charges, and some of these cases represent the longest-known instances of journalist imprisonment worldwide.

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Egypt, a recurrent contender among the world’s most egregious incarcerators, has equaled Turkey in securing the eighth-highest count of imprisoned journalists globally, numbering 13.

In the 2023 census, Egypt ranked second in Africa. Following closely behind Ethiopia, Cameroon currently detains six journalists.

China emerged as the leading jailer of journalists globally, with 44 behind bars in 2023, followed by Myanmar and Belarus. Israel ranked sixth, alongside Iran. This shift occurred following the start of the Israel-Gaza war in October 2023. AS

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