Addis Abeba, May 24, 2021- The Ethiopian Media Authority (EMA) today released a statement expressing the government’s commitment to Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom. In the statement, the EMA recalled the reforms made in terms of the freedom of expression over the last Three years such as freeing journalists and political prisoners. “A lot of restrictions and obstacles that were in place for years have been completely removed or reformed to give better access to information for journalists, both for foreign and national.” the statement read.
This comes after the EU expressed concerns over the press rights over the weekend, where it demanded an investigation into the killing of Oromia Broadcasting Network (OBN) journalist Sisay Fida early this month and expressed “serious concern” over the expulsion from the country of reporter Simon Marks who had reported on atrocities committed in the Tigray region. A spokesperson of the EU said “The EU is seriously concerned about the shrinking space for freedom of the media and harassment, arrests as well as restrictions imposed on Ethiopian and international journalists in Ethiopia.”
The EMA on its part said that there are 35 foreign news organizations represented by 129 permanent resident correspondents licensed to work in the country. Regarding reporting in the Tigray region, the EMA said “Even in the midst of the law enforcement operation in the Tigray Region, more than 82 foreign journalists from various countries have been given access to the area with temporary permits as well.”
Addressing reporting in conflict zones, the EMA said, “We expect professional reporting that lives up to the standards of journalistic ethics. We expect international norms of conflict sensitive reporting to be observed by journalists.” The authority explained that the limit of access to areas where there is an ongoing military operation is necessary. It called on foreign correspondents to observe the terms and conditions of their permits and abide by the law of the land, while also reminding “When violations of law occur, we have a duty to enforce the law like any other government in the world.”
The statement concluded by reiterating the government’s commitment to press freedom. The EMA promised to give as much access as practically possible, “The country and our offices will remain open to all journalists that want to report in good faith.” AS