Crackdown on Press Freedom in Ethiopia as Journalists Arrested Amid Political Unrest

By Sumur Tsehaye

In a concerning development for press freedom in Ethiopia, authorities have arrested at least eight journalists in recent weeks amid renewed political unrest in the country.

The arrests, which took place between April 3 and April 13, targeted journalists reporting on issues affecting the Amhara region, following the armed conflict between Abiy’s government and Fano militia group .

Detainees include editors and reporters from media outlets such as Arat Kilo Media, Ethio Selam, and Yegna Media.

The journalists are accused of inciting violence and mobilizing the youth to overthrow the government. However, press freedom groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have condemned the arrests as an attempt to silence critical reporting.

“The latest spate of arrests in Ethiopia, in which at least eight journalists have been arrested since April 3, paints a deeply depressing picture of the state of press freedom in the country,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative.

“Authorities should release all detained journalists, investigate allegations that some members of the press have been mistreated or assaulted while in state custody, and ensure that journalists do not operate in an environment of fear.”

The crackdown on the media comes amid political unrest in the Amhara region, where protesters are opposing government plans to dissolve regional security forces.

This is not the first time Ethiopia has faced criticism over its treatment of journalists. In February 2024, a French journalist named Antoine Galindo was detained in Addis Ababa on suspicion of “conspiracy to create chaos.”

Galindo, who works for the Africa Intelligence, was released after a week in prison.

The country has also expelled several foreign journalists since the end of 2020, as the government grappled with civil conflicts, including a war in the Tigray region.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 promising political reforms, has faced accusations of cracking down on dissent as the country’s security situation has deteriorated. At least eight Ethiopian journalists are currently behind bars, according to the CPJ.

The recent arrests of journalists underscore the challenging environment for press freedom in Ethiopia, as the government appears to be using security concerns as a pretext to silence critical reporting.

Advocates are calling for the immediate release of all detained journalists and for the authorities to respect the vital role of the media in a democratic society.

(The East African Daily)

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