Response to HRW report on press freedom in Ethiopia

23 Jan 2015

PRESS STATEMENT

On 21 January 2015, Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched yet another attack against the Ethiopian Government. It is a well-known fact that HRW has been waging a campaign of vilification against Ethiopia under the guise of a range of issues. This time, the chosen theme was media freedom and the upcoming general elections. In its latest report entitled “Journalism is Not a Crime: Violations of Media Freedom in Ethiopia”, HRW makes unfounded allegations of systematic repression of the independent media.

However, the fact of the matter is that there is no systematic repression of the independent media. It has been over 20 years since censorship was abolished and the content of media reports are left to the media organizations themselves. Indeed anyone who lives in Ethiopia and follows independent media reports can attest to that fact on a daily basis.

The prevailing environment of media freedom in Ethiopia today clearly shows that journalists who behave responsibly operate freely in Ethiopia, since freedom of expression comes with responsibility. The government and the people of Ethiopia are fully aware that the country’s fledgling democracy cannot afford to expose itself to incitement of ethnic and religious hatred. The track record of Ethiopia is very clear where the respect of the constitutional order and the respect of the law is concerned. High government officials have been scrutinised under the law, and whenever they have trespassed against the law of the country they have been prosecuted. What has happened to some of the journalists is no different to what has been applied to government officials.

Being a member of an opposition party or a journalist does not constitute a licence to violate the law of the land. Any action that compromises the integrity of the constitutional order, the law of the land, is a recipe for obstructing the democratic process, a process which continues to gather momentum year on year.

It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise that the government will do its level best to guard against any intention by anyone to unleash violence and terrorism by inciting ethnic and religious disturbances. Whenever cases like this arise the government will act in keeping with the relevant laws of the land.

HRW’s intimation of the reasons behind the closure of some of the print media is not correct either. The purpose of the establishment of some these media organizations, was not to participate in the democratic process in the first place, and their closure has more to do with the fact that they cannot survive in an environment of law and order.

HRW’s criticism of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation as well as the Proclamation of Charities and Societies, although nothing new, also misses the point. First of all, Ethiopia is not the only country which has enacted an Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Since its introduction, the proclamation has contributed immensely to fighting terror activities in the country.

The Government of Ethiopia has tried to engage HRW staff to explain the objective reality on the ground and to give them an opportunity to know more about the democratic transformation in Ethiopia. This has not borne fruit as HRW is not interested in the bigger picture – and does not acknowledge the many positive changes that have taken place in Ethiopia.

In closing, it must be noted that the  Government of Ethiopia, like any other elected government elsewhere, has the fundamental duty and responsibility of maintaining law and order as well as peace and stability in the country and it will do its level best to discharge that responsibility  effectively and efficiently. At the same time however, it must be made clear that Ethiopia will not waver from its original intention of steadfastly building a democratic society and working towards the strengthening of press freedom.

Ethiopia will do this because it believes that it is a necessity for its people, not for the approval, or lack of it, of organizations such as HRW.

The building of a democratic society in Ethiopia is not a luxury, but a necessity in our pursuit of building a vibrant, responsible and united Ethiopia where the equality of all nations and nationalities of Ethiopia are respected.

Ethiopian Embassy London Refutes HRW Allegations - BBC World News - 23 January 2015
Statement
Prev Article Next Article

Latest News

Browse all
In just three weeks, Ethiopia made history with the elevation of women to top government posts: a cabinet reshuffle saw a gender-balanced cabinet with women taking up half the ministerial posts, the first female president and first female supreme court president. These measures are part of Prime Minister Abiy’s latest reforms since taking office and are huge milestones in Ethiopian…
19 Nov 2018
Ethiopia’s three weeks of historic firsts
Alex Lewis, a quadruple amputee whose life changed five years ago when he contracted Strep A with Septicaemia and Toxic Shock Syndrome, which then led to amputation of all his limbs, is embarking on a monumental challenge. Alex is hoping to climb one of Africa’s tallest mountains – Ras Dashen in Ethiopia. For two weeks in January, Alex is going…
13 Nov 2018
Quadruple amputee to scale Ethiopia’s highest mountain
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a working visit to Europe from 30 – 31 October, which saw him in France and Germany. However, the highlight of the visit was on 31 October in Frankfurt, where more than 15,000 Ethiopians from all over Europe braved the cold for the Prime Minister's first address to the Diaspora in Europe.
8 Nov 2018
PM Abiy’s memorable visit to Europe
On 1st November, the Parliament appointed Meaza Ashenafi, one of Ethiopia's most seasoned lawyers and a prominent women rights activist, as the country's first female Supreme Court President. This follows the appointment of the country's first female president and a gender-balanced Cabinet.
5 Nov 2018
First woman to head Supreme Court
In yet another historic move, and just days after PM Abiy named a new gender-balanced Cabinet, Ambassador Sahle-Work Zewde has been appointed as the fourth President of Ethiopia, replacing Dr. Mulatu Teshome. The decision was made by a unanimous vote during a special joint session of Ethiopia's parliament.
25 Oct 2018
Ethiopia elects first female President
On 16th October, more than 200 delegates comprising members of parliament, analystts, investors, the media and others, gathered in London for the UK-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum, aimed at boosting bilateral trade between Ethiopia and the United Kingdom.
22 Oct 2018
UK-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum affirms Ethiopia is open for Business
The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund official website www.ethiopiatrustfund.org is now live and taking donations, as of October 22. The Advisory Council urges all interested in advancing freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance, and the EDTF to make their USD$1 contributions.
22 Oct 2018
Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund goes live
As part of ongoing reforms taking place in the country, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed named a new Cabinet on 16th October, with half the posts being taken by women – a historic first for Ethiopia, and Africa in general. The cabinet reshuffle saw the number of ministerial positions reduced from 28 to 20.
19 Oct 2018
Women take centre stage in Prime Minister Abiy’s Cabinet reshuffle
Addis Fine Art presented a solo exhibition by Ethiopian Artist, Addis Gezehagn, for the 2018 edition of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, which took place between 4th and 7th October at Somerset House, London. [caption id="attachment_4494" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Addis Gezehagn, Floating City X, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas, 146 x 222 cm. Courtesy Addis Fine Art [/caption] The solo exhibition…
15 Oct 2018
Addis Fine Art showcases Ethiopian art at 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair in London
On 2nd October, the Scientific Exploration Society commemorated the 50th anniversary of the exploration of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River at a special event at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Mr Fekadu Beyene, Head of Diaspora Affairs (Chargé d’Affaires) attended on behalf of the Embassy and was joined by some of the members of the expedition and a number of…
8 Oct 2018
50th anniversary of the first Blue Nile expedition commemorated