Posted 3rd January 2008 By Peter Heinlein Addis Ababa 02 January 2008   Ethiopia has denied licenses to three independent newspaper publishers who were jailed for 17 months in connection with media coverage of the country’s 2005 post-election unrest. VOA’s Peter Heinlein has details from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Journalists and newspaper publishers Eskinder […]" /> Ethiopian News and Views.

Ethiopia Denies Independent Newspaper Licenses

Posted 3rd January 2008

By Peter Heinlein
Addis Ababa
02 January 2008

 

Ethiopia has denied licenses to three independent newspaper publishers who were jailed for 17 months in connection with media coverage of the country’s 2005 post-election unrest. VOA’s Peter Heinlein has details from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Journalists and newspaper publishers Eskinder Nega, Serkalim Fasil, and Sisay Agena say they were notified by an Ethiopian information ministry official Monday that their applications for permits to practice journalism were denied. No reasons for the rejections were given.

The three were among 15 journalists jailed for their coverage of the anti-government uprisings that left nearly 200 demonstrators dead following the disputed 2005 elections. They were initially charged with outrage against the constitution, which is tantamount to treason, and carries a maximum sentence of death. They were released last April, after the charges were dropped.

Several of those freed later went into exile, but Eskinder Nega and Serkalim Fasil, who are husband and wife, along with Sisay, applied in September for permission to re-open their papers.

Eskinder says he and Serkalim, who gave birth to their son while in prison, are unfazed by the rejection, and plan to fight on.

“We will remain here and fight for freedom of expression to the very last,” he said. “We will not leave. I am sure the Ethiopian government would be happy to see us leave, to see us go into exile like the rest, but that is exactly what we will not do.”

Several current and former Ethiopian Information Ministry officials contacted by VOA Tuesday said they were not in a position to comment on the government’s action.

Journalist Eskinder Nega expressed surprise that he had been notified of the denial. He says in other similar cases, the ministry leaves applications pending indefinitely. He told VOA the denial appears intended as a message to journalists and others preparing for local elections scheduled throughout Ethiopia later this year.

“There are no legal reasons for denying us the license,” he said. “So this is a political decision, so they want the public, and the world to know that we have been denied registration for political reasons. So they are delivering a message. For whom? Our guess is they are delivering a message for the opposition.”

International press watchdog groups have sharply criticized Ethiopia’s media restrictions. The Committee to Protect Journalists last year named Ethiopia ‘the world’s worst backslider on press freedom’, saying it had banned eight newspapers, expelled two foreign reporters and blocked critical websites.

Ethiopian government spokesman Zemedkun Tekle rejected that criticism at the time, saying press freedom is getting stronger. He told a reporter the government must sometimes take newspapers to court because of their threat to constitutional order.

Source: VOA News
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Comments (4)

  • YE GOBEX ALEKA

    Abbayeee

    I like you picture that explain what dictator leader does in Ethiopia, do not listen , do not hear and do not see

    Reply
  • mossese

    It serves them good; they were not established to serve the public as free press but to serve the amoeba kinijit.

    They unlashed the only thing they know DERG propaganda and brought confusion and mayhem to the public letting children die on the street of Ethiopia for the second time. Ethiopia dose not need subservient democracy in the name of free press.

    Bravo Ministry of press keep on the good work. First let them prove themselves that they only stand for true free press. CPJ or what ever the organization may will not be judge to whom free press shall be awarded if CPJ wants to be judge first he should teach his children of mayhem some good manner.

    Reply
  • Aba Koster

    Dude Mossese why do you have to push us to a dirty road that you are challenging our grievances instead why don’t you use your Reporter and Radio Fanna to show that you are one hell killer and your sympathy to “betsay Meles”.

    Reply
  • Mossese

    Do not you remember that you have tried the dirty road and fatally failed? If do not remember this I don’t think you deserve an answer. Repent and commit your self for true democracy.

    Once again, this is my humble advice you can choose what ever road you may wish to hike but the only salvation that will deliver you from your nightmare is repentence

    Reply

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