Today (26 January), a group of Ethiopian journalists and opposition politicians were sentenced to prison terms of between 14 years and life. In this connection Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement:
“I am appalled by the convictions. Freedom of the press is one of the foundations of every democracy. The Ethiopian Government has taken notable steps to take their country forward.
To be sustainable however, any development needs to go hand in hand with respect for human rights. It is vital for the freedom of the press and freedom of opinion to be safeguarded in Ethiopia.”
Journalists Reyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye and Elias Kifle (in absentia), ENDP leader Zerihun Gebre-Egziabher (Ethiopian National Democratic Party) and opposition supporter Hirut Kifle have been found guilty under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and Criminal Code of offences including the “planning, preparation conspiracy, incitement and attempt of terrorist act”.
“Like the whole international community I am personally gravely concerned about the future of the freedom of the press and of opinion in Ethiopia in the light of the numerous arrests and trials of journalists and opposition politicians under the Anti-Terrorism Code.”