ethiopiantimes

August 24, 2011

Ethiopian media hit by new anti-terrorism law

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 7:51 pm
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Ethiopia’s tightly-controlled media is not particularly known for sticking its neck out on controversial issues, but a new law recently passed by an overwhelmingly government-controlled parliament has had top executives wringing their hands over its potential ramifications.

The law expressly bans any form of communication with groups designated as terrorist organisations, including reporting even a press release or interviewing their members.

According to the spirit of the law, any such act will be considered as disseminating terror-related information and the publisher of any such article can be jailed.

Addis Ababa journalists and newspaper owners remain confused as to how to treat the new law which was endorsed in 2009 but has only become effective now.

It is an indictment of the environment that exists in the country that some publishers were afraid of being quoted on their views, saying they preferred not to “quarrel with the government”, even as the law clearly seems restrictive.

Dawit Kebede, a CPJ award winner and editor-in-chief of one of the country’s remaining political newspapers, Awramba Times, says the law provides a pretext for the government to intimidate and even arrest journalists who fall afoul of its wording.

Kebede said the regulations were a government campaign to oppress all forms of dissident activity.

20-year prison sentence

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says the law makes it difficult for Ethiopian reporters to cover the activities of opposition figures and rebels without risking prosecution and a 20-year prison sentence

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