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Analysis: CPJ says ‘Ethiopia biggest setback for media freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa’; Two journalists shot dead, a dozen remain behind bars in 2021

By Addis Standard Staff 

Addis Abeba, December 09/2021 – In its 2021 report on the global status of press freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Ethiopia among the worst jailers of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa after Eritrea. The report that was released today revealed that in Ethiopia in 2021, one journalist was killed and nine remain in prison. 

An earlier report that released yesterday and focused on Ethiopia,  the CPJ also noted the suspension of Addis Standard in July 2021, assaults and intimidation on members of the press, the expulsion of at least one foreign journalist for war coverage and an internet disruption among the setbacks for the media.  

It is to be remembered that in 2019 after reforms promised and undertaken by PM Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia improved 40 places from the 150th rank the year before on the World Press Freedom Index where the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of media freedom. Ethiopia now stands at 101th on the annual ranking. 

The CPJ detailed that numerous journalists have been arrested in the country since the start of the war  in Tigray a year ago where nine reporters were still in custody on December 1. “Six were arrested in November as the conflict escalated and the government imposed harsh emergency laws. CPJ documented multiple other press freedom violations throughout the year,” the report read. 

Addis Standard followed and documented violations against press freedom throughout the year, including the killings of both Oromia Broadcasting Network’s (OBN), Sisay Fida and Tigray TV’s Dawit Kebede and the arrest and subsequent release of Tesfalem Woldyes, a prominent independent journalist with two decades journalism experience and the founder of Ethiopia Insider, a private Amharic Language Online news outlet and many more. 

Addis Standard’s investigations reveal that in Ethiopia, Eleven journalists remain behind bars.  

The following is a list of journalists who remain in prison as of December 09, 2021: 

Tesfa-Alem Tekle is a journalist working for Kenya’s Nation Media Group working as its correspondent in Addis Ababa.  He was arrested on October 31, 2021 in Addis Abeba. 

Ermiyas Alemu is a radio journalist working for a private radio station . He was arrested two weeks ago  in Addis Ababa from his residence by the Addis Abeba Police Commision. 

Kirom worku is a journalist working for Ahadu Radio as head of its news department. He was arrested on October 22, 2021 by Addis Ababa police from his office.  On November 16 2021 the Arada high court ordered his release on 15,000 ETB but he remains in prison. 

Abdusalaam Hasan is a journalist working for Oromia Media Network (OMN). He was arrested on November 21, 2021 in Addis Ababa 

Melese Diribsa, the news director of the Oromia Media Network (OMN), he was charged along side high profile pliticians and senior Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) members Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Adane and Dejene Tafa of terrorism. 

Bikila Amanu and Decchasa Wirtu, both journalists working for the Oromia News Network (ONN), were arrested on November 19 2021 in Addis Abeba.  

Ibrahim Hussein, Salman mukhtar, Mohamed Qasim and Hirsi Mohamed are journalists working for the first private Somali Language TV Station  in Ethiopia, Nabad TV.  All four were arrested on November 10, 2021 in Jigjiga,  the capital of the Somali Regional State. 

Mikiyas Tilaun  is a journalist working for a private media company. He was arrested in September 2021 in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region . AS

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