The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called for an immediate release of recently detained journalists and said their arrest is contrary to the Media Law. The commission affirmed it will continue to monitor the situation.
Recalling that the arrest in Addis Ababa on May 26, 2022, of journalist Temesgen Desalegn (Editor, Feteh Magazine) and Yayesew Shimelis (Ethio Forum Media) brings the total of detained journalists and media personnel to 16, EHRC remarked, “the arrest of media personnel is particularly alarming because it is contrary to the Media Law and its repercussions extend beyond media space and freedom of expression.”
There have been a string of arrests of journalists and dissident voices in the last couple of weeks. Since May 19, over 16 media personalities, and dissident voices were arrested among which are Solomon Shumye, a popular TV host; Meskerem Abera, a political commentator; Temesgen Desalegn, Managing Editor of Feteh magazine; Yayesew Shimelis, journalist & political commentator, and journalists and staff members of Ashara and Nisir Media.
EHRC said the conditions the arrests are being undertaken are against the Media Law adding that prolonged pre-trial detention, non-disclosure of whereabouts, and detention in irregular detention facilities are contrary to the Media Law and would aggravate the situation.
“No claim about the alleged offense committed through media justifies the violation of the newly adopted media law which clearly prohibits pre-trial detention of persons charged with committing an offense through the media.”
The new Ethiopian Media Proclamation 1238/2021, in its Article 86 titled Manner of Instituting and Hearing Media Related Cases states that “Any person charged with committing an offense through the media by the public prosecutor shall be brought promptly before a court, without being remanded for further investigation pursuant to the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code”.
In a statement issued jointly by Addis Ababa Police Commission and Federal Police Commission yesterday, it is reported that the recent arrest of journalists is part of the recent law enforcement operation being undertaken by the government.
The police also noted that among the groups marked in the operation are media practitioners whom it claimed are suspected of inciting conflict among people through media.
The police denied accusations of unlawful abductions and apprehending individuals without cause or procedure and emphasized that the integrated law enforcement operation will continue.