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2014 Golden Pen of Freedom awarded to Jailed Ethiopian Eskinder Nega

The honour was formally bestowed on Nega in a ceremony at the 66th World Newspaper Congress, under way in the Italian city of Torino this week, where more than 1,000 media industry representatives have gathered.

Nega is serving an 18-year jail sentence in Addis Ababa’s notorious Kaliti prison, convicted on trumped-up terrorism charges after daring to wonder in print whether the Arab Spring could reach Ethiopia, and for criticising the very anti-terrorism legislation under which he was charged. Arrested in 2011, he was sentenced on 23 January 2012, and denounced as belonging to a terrorist organisation.

Imprisoned at least seven times in the past decade for committing fearless acts of journalism, Nega is a celebrated intellectual and a relentless fighter for freedom of expression. “Eskinder Nega has become an emblem of Ethiopia’s recent struggle for democracy,” World Editors Forum President Erik Bjerager said, delivering the Golden Penduring the opening ceremony of the World Newspaper Congress and the World Editors Forum in Torino. “No stranger to prison, he is also an unforgettable warning to every working Ethiopian journalist and editor that the quest to create a just, free society comes with a heavy price,” Bjerager said.

Nega’s former prisonmate, Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye, accepted the award on the jailed journalist’s behalf, at the invitation of Nega’s family. He painted a dark picture of life inside Kaliti Prison. “The rooms are more like barns with concrete floors, and it is so crowded that you have to sleep on your side,” he said. “Prisoners are packed likes slaves on a slaveship. Once a month an inmate leaves with his feet first.”

But disease and torture are not the hardest part of life inside Kaliti, according to Schibbye. “It (is) the fear of speaking. It’s not the guard towers with machine guns that keep the prison population calm. It is the geography of fear. People who speak politics are taken away. They disappear.” Schibbye is a freelance journalist who was jailed for 14 months in Kaliti Prison, along with his photographer Johan Persson. They were pardoned and released in September 2012.

“In (Kaliti), fearless people like Eskinder Nega helped the whole prison population to keep their dignity. By still writing. Protesting. Not giving up. He helped us all maintain our humanity. But there is one thing I know that even Eskinder fears. That is to be forgotten,” Schibbye says.

“When you’re locked up as a prisoner of conscience, this is the greatest fear, and the support from the outside is what keeps you going. This Golden Pen Award will not set him free tomorrow, but it will ease his day today. He will go with his head high knowing that he is there for a good cause. That the pain and suffering has a meaning.”

WEF President Erik Bjerager told the ceremony that the world needs to watch the creeping threat of anti-terrorism legislation being used to target journalists. “Ethiopia continues to resort to anti-terrorism legislation to silence opposition and shackle the press. Alarmingly, beyond Ethiopia, countless states around the world are misusing anti-terrorism legislation to muzzle journalists, bloggers and freedom of expression advocates,” Bjerager said. “Research suggests that over half of the more than 200 journalists in jail last year were being held on ‘anti-state’ charges. Let me be clear: Journalism is not terrorism. Politicians should not abuse the notion of national security to protect the government, powerful interests or particular ideologies, or to prevent the exposure of wrongdoing or incompetence.”

Schibbye concluded his acceptance speech, reading from a moving letter penned by Nega to his eight-year-old son. It was smuggled out of Kaliti prison: “The pain is almost physical. But in this plight of our family is embedded hope of a long suffering people. There is no greater honour. We must bear any pain, travel any distance, climb any mountain, cross any ocean to complete this journey to freedom. Anything less is impoverishment of our soul. God bless you, my son. You will always be in my prayers.”

Schibbye told a tearful audience: “When I read these words by Eskinder I know that they will never break him. Because he is in peace with himself. He knows that even though he is chained, robbed of his physical freedom, the freedom to talk or to be silent, the freedom to drink or eat, and even to shit. He knows, as do all prisoners of conscience, that you have it in you to keep the most valuable, the freedom that nobody can take from you, the freedom to determine who you want to be. Eskinder is a journalist. And every day he wakes up in the Kaliti prison is just another day at the office.”

Nine more journalists were jailed in the past month in Ethiopia, as the election campaign started ahead of next year’s poll. “The crackdown was a flashing alarm to the world that no one is safe. That there is a hunting season for journalists in Addis Abeba. But despite this difficult situation, there is light,” Schibbye said.

“Eskinder Nega’s courage has turned out to be contagious; a new generation is stepping up. A generation of young cheetahs have been taking enormous risks writing, tweeting and speaking truth to power, demanding the jailed to be released. It is hopeful. It shows that they can jail journalists but they can never succeed in jailing journalism. Words led Eskinder Nega to the Kaliti prison. And in the end it must also be words that set him free,” Schibbye told a clearly emotional audience.

“When I see this Golden Pen of his, I look back, and think of Eskinder who is left behind in the chaos, on the concrete floor, between walls of corrugated steel I feel sick to the stomach. But then I remember his smile and his strength and I think that at the end of the day, it’s not us that are fighting for his freedom – but rather he who is fighting for ours. Ayzoh Eskinder! Ayzoh! (translation: be strong, chin up).”

Note: The Golden Pen of Freedom is an annual award made by WAN-IFRA to recognise the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, a group or an institution in the cause of press freedom. Established in 1961, the Golden Pen of Freedom is presented annually and is amongst the most prestigious awards of its kind throughout the world. Behind the names of the laureates lie stories of extraordinary personal courage and self-sacrifice, stories of jail, beatings, bombings, censorship, exile and murder. One of the objectives of the Golden Pen is to turn the spotlight of public attention on repressive governments and journalists who fight them. Often, the laureate is still engaged in the struggle for freedom of expression and the Pen has, on several occasions, secured the release of a publisher or journalist from jail or afforded him or her a degree of protection against further persecution.

 

2014 Freedom House report confirm Ethiopia is not Free

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In response to the Ethiopian government’s arrest of six members of an independent blogging group and three journalists on April 25-26, Freedom House released the following statement:

“Ethiopia’s arrests of journalists are a chilling example of the government’s efforts to silence alternative voices and dissent,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “These independent voices have worked responsibly to give important social and political issues serious consideration.”

“Freedom House urges Secretary of State John Kerry to use his forthcoming trip to Ethiopia to ask the government to dismiss these charges if evidence is insufficient,” Petrovic said, “and to provide the accused with immediate access to legal representation and family members.”

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom of the Press 2013 and Freedom on the Net 2013.

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To learn more about Ethiopia, visit:
Ethiopia Debates Making Homosexuality “Non-Pardonable” Offense
Statement: Ethiopia’s EITI Process Needs Larger Role for Civil Society
Freedom in the World 2013: Ethiopia
Freedom of the Press 2013: Ethiopia
Freedom on the Net 2013: Ethiopia
Blog: Democracy, Double-Crossed: How Private Actors in the West Serve Foreign Dictators

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhousedc) and stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our RSS feedsnewsletter and our blog.

REPORTS:
COUNTRIES:

Global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to a Freedom House report released today. The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.

Freedom of the Press 2014 found that despite positive developments in a number of countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, setbacks were the dominant trend in every other region. The share of the world’s population with media rated “Free” remains at just 14 percent, or only one in seven people. Far larger shares live in “Not Free” (44 percent) or “Partly Free” (42 percent) media environments.

“We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report. “In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists.”

“In 2013 we saw more cases of states targeting foreign reporters and media outlets,” Karlekar added. “Russian and Chinese authorities declined to renew or threatened to withhold visas for prominent foreign correspondents, but the new Egyptian government went a step further by detaining a number of Al-Jazeera staff on charges of supporting terrorism.”

Key Global Findings:

  • Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2013, a total of 63 (32 percent) were rated Free, 68 (35 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 66 (33 percent) were rated Not Free.
  • All regions except sub-Saharan Africa, whose average score leveled off, showed declines, with the Middle East and North Africa suffering the worst deterioration.
  • Triggers for country declines included governments’ overt attempts to control the news—whether through the physical harassment of journalists covering protest movements or other sensitive stories, restrictions on foreign reporters, or tightened constraints on online news outlets and social media—as well as the role of owners in shaping media content through directives on coverage or dismissals of outspoken journalists.
  • Country improvements were largely driven by three factors: a growing ability of private firms to operate television and radio outlets; greater access to a variety of views via online media, social media, and international outlets; and improved respect for legal protections for the press.
  • China and Russia maintained a tight grip on local media while also attempting to control the more independent views provided either in the blogosphere or by foreign news sources.
  • The world’s eight worst-rated countries remain Belarus, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Key Regional Findings:

Americas:

  • The regional average score worsened to its lowest level in five years, and just 2 percent of the population in Latin America lived in Free media environments.
  • Scores dropped in Honduras, Panama, Suriname, and Venezuela.
  • Paraguay’s rating improved to Partly Free.
  • Conditions in the United States deteriorated due primarily to attempts by the government to inhibit reporting on national security issues.

Asia-Pacific:

  • Only 5 percent of the region’s population had access to Free media in 2013.
  • China, rated Not Free, continued to crack down on online speech, particularly on microblogs, and also ramped up pressure on foreign journalists.
  • Press freedom deteriorated in Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and several Pacific Island states, including Nauru, which was downgraded to Partly Free.
  • Burma and Nepal registered score improvements.

Eurasia:

  • The overwhelming majority of people in the region (97 percent) lived in Not Free media environments.
  • Conditions in Russia remained grim, as the RIA Novosti news agency was closed and the government enacted additional legal restrictions on online speech.
  • Ukraine was downgraded to Not Free for 2013 due primarily to attacks on journalists covering the Euromaidan protests, and further erosion took place in Azerbaijan.
  • Positive developments occurred in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia.

Europe:

  • This region enjoys the highest level of press freedom, but the regional average score registered the second-largest drop worldwide in 2013.
  • The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden were rated the world’s top-performing countries.
  • Significant decline took place in Turkey, which fell into the Not Free category, as well as in Greece, Montenegro, and the United Kingdom.
  • A modest numerical improvement was noted in Italy, which remains Partly Free.

Middle East and North Africa:

  • Only 2 percent of the region’s people lived in Free media environments, while the vast majority, 84 percent, lived in Not Free countries or territories.
  • Backsliding occurred in Libya, which fell back into the Not Free category, and Egypt, where the military-led government limited press freedom.
  • Significant deterioration took place in Jordan and to a lesser extent in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. Press freedom declined further in Syria, in the midst of an especially brutal civil war that posed enormous dangers to journalists.
  • Improvements took place in Algeria (upgraded to Partly Free), Yemen, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Israel (upgraded back to Free).

Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • The majority of people (56 percent) lived in countries with Partly Free media. Improvements in the legal and economic spheres in 2013 were balanced by declines in the political category.
  • Declines occurred in South Sudan and Zambia (both downgraded to Not Free), the Central African Republic, and several countries in East Africa, including Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda.
  • West Africa saw a number of improvements, including the upgrade of Côte d’Ivoire to Partly Free and numerical gains in Mali, Senegal, and Togo.
  • Other gains were recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, the Seychelles, and Zimbabwe.

To view the report, click here.

Eritrea scored 1st in the worst freedom of press since 2007, 179 out of 179, Ethiopia stood 137 out of 179 in 2013 while Netherlands the best press freedom country

May 3 marked the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day. A day to celebrate press freedom around the world. Or the lack of it. Reporters Without Borders has released its annual report on world press freedom in 2013, which documents overall trends and has a region-by-region breakdown of key issues and developments. This year already, nineteen journalists have been killed and 174 imprisoned, and 9  citizen journalists have been killed and 162 imprisoned.

The Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders “reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, following the Arab uprisings and “other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year’s index [the] ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year’s index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term.”

Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, and Andorra are ranked as the countries that most respect media freedom, while Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, and Somalia are the countries that least respect it.

 

Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al-Saud - Saudi ArabiaAlexander Lukashenko - BelarusAyatollah Ali Khamenei - IranBaloch armed groups - PakistanBashar Al-Assad - SyriaCamorra (Naples), 'Ndrangheta (Calabria), Sacra Corona Unita (Puglia), Cosa Nostra (Sicily) - ItalyChina – Xi Jinping - ChinaChoummaly Sayasone - LaosGurbanguly Berdymukhammedov - TurkmenistanIlham Aliyev - AzerbaijanIslam Karimov – President, Uzbekistan - UzbekistanIsrael Defence Forces - UzbekistanIssaias Afeworki - EritreaJabhat Al-Nosra - SyriaKim Jong-un - North KoreaKing Hamad Ben Aissa Al Khalifa - BahrainLeaders and members of extremist religious groups - MaldivesMahmoud Ahmadinejad - MaldivesMexico : Miguel Trevino Morales, alias Z-40, and the Zetas drug cartel - MexicoMiguel Facussé Barjum - HondurasMullah Mohammad Omar - PakistanNguyen Phu Trong - VietnamNursultan Nazarbayev - KazakhstanPaul Kagame - RwandaPhilippines: private militias - PhilippinesRamzan Kadyrov - RussiaRaúl Castro - CubaSomalia - Al-Shabaab, Islamist militia - CubaSwaziland - Mswati III, King - SwazilandTeodoro Obiang Nguema - Equatorial GuineaThe intelligence services - PakistanThe Islamist group Boko Haram - NigeriaThe Rajapakse brothers - Sri LankaThe ruling Muslim Brotherhood - Sri LankaVasif Yusif Oghlu Talibov - AzerbaijanVladimir Putin - RussiaYahya Jammeh - GambiaZimbabwe - Robert Mugabe, president - Zimbabwe“Otoniel” and Los Urabeños – paramilitaries - Colombia

 

 

 

EAST AFRICA STAGNATES NEAR BOTTOM OF THE INDEX, MALI NOSEDIVES

East Africa: journalists’ graveyard

In Somalia (175th, -11) 18 journalists were killed, caught up in bomb attacks or the direct targets of murder, making 2012 the deadliest in history for the country’s media. The Horn of Africa state was the second most dangerous country in the world for those working in news and information, behind Syria.

In Eritrea (in last place in the index for the sixth successive year), no journalists were killed but some were left to die, which amounts to the same thing. With at least 30 behind bars, it is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists. Of 11 incarcerated since 2001, 7 have died as a result of prison conditions or have killed themselves. Since the independent media were abolished more than 10 years ago, there are no independent Eritrean news outlets, other than outside the country, and terror prevails.

East Africa is also a region of censorship and crackdowns. Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan, where more newspapers were seized and the arrests of journalists continued during the summer, is stuck firmly in 170th place, in the bottom 10 of the index.

Djibouti (167th, -8), which has no independent media, detained a correspondent of the foreign-based news site La Voix de Djibouti. Despite the release of two Swedish journalists arrested in 2011, Ethiopia (137th) fell ten places because of its repressive application of the 2009 anti-terrorist law and the continued detention of several local journalists.

Political unrest in Mali and the Central African Republic

Mali (99th, -74), which was long presented as the continent’s star performer in democracy and press freedom, was prey to the political events that overtook it during the year. The military coup in Bamako on 22 March and the seizure of the north of the country by Touareg separatists and Islamic fundamentalists exposed news organizations to censorship and abuses. Many northern radio stations stopped broadcasting, while in the capital several Malian and foreign journalists were assaulted. All these occurred before the external military intervention in January 2013.

The Central African Republic was ranked 65th in 2012. Events after the outbreak of the Seleka rebellion at the very end of the year (radio stations ransacked, one journalist killed) were not taken into consideration in this index, thus preventing the country from falling more than 50 places. These will be included in the 2014 version. In Guinea-Bissau (92nd, -17) a media blackout and military censorship that followed the coup on 12 April explain that country’s drop.

Africa’s predatory censors

Yahya Jammeh, King Mswati III, Paul Kagame, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema, together with other heads of state such as Issaias Afeworki (Eritrea) and Ismael Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) are members of an exclusive club of authoritarian African leaders, some eccentric others stern, who hold their countries in an iron grasp and keep a firm grip on news and information. Their countries, respectively Gambia (152nd), Swaziland(155th), Rwanda (161st) and Equatorial Guinea (166th), are all among the bottom 30 in the index. Media pluralism has been whittled away and criticism of the head of state discouraged.

The biggest losses

Chad (121st, -18) saw journalists harassed and roughed up, the publication of the newspaper N’Djamena Bi-Hebdo temporarily halted and its publisher sentenced to a suspended prison term, and a highly repressive bill kept under wraps. The slow but sure progress that followed the formation of a national unity government in Zimbabwe (133rd, -16) in 2009 and the granting of publication licences to several independent newspapers appeared to have stalled. Violence and arrests of journalists still niggle and if elections go ahead as planned in 2013, the atmosphere for the media promises to be tense. Relatively high placed in 2011-2012,South Sudan (124th) fell 12 places after the murder of a columnist – the first killing of its kind in the new country – as news organizations and journalists awaited the approval of three new laws on the media.

Despite the holding of a national media conference in Cameroon (120th, -23), the future of the sector remains both uncertain and worrying. In the upper reaches of the index, Niger (43rd) nonetheless fell 14 places as a result of the irresponsibility of a few journalists who succumbed to the temptation to abuse the freedom that they enjoyed. Within the space of four months in Tanzania (70th, -36), one journalist was killed while he was covering a demonstration and another was found dead, a clear victim of murder.

Burundi (132nd) fell only two places but remains a low position. Summonses of journalists declined but the case of Hassan Ruvakuki, given a life sentence reduced to three years on appeal, has created an atmosphere of fear among the media.

Return to normality

After a dreadful year in 2011, marked by the dictatorial behaviour of the late President Bingu Wa Mutharika, a violent crackdown on demonstrations and the murder of the blogger Robert Chasowa, Malawi (75th) recorded the biggest jump in the entire index, up 71 places, close to the position it held in 2010. Similarly,Ivoiry Coast rose 63 places to 96th despite persistent problems. It had plummeted in the previous index because of a post-election crisis and the murders of a journalist and another media worker, as well as the civil conflict that broke out in Abidjan in April. Uganda (104th) was up 35 places thanks to a better year, but things were far from satisfactory as far as the media were concerned. The year ended with President Yoweri Museveni making open threats to several radio stations.

Promising gains

For Senegal (59th, +16), 2012 was a year of hope. The presidential election took place in a peaceful atmosphere for the media, despite a few regrettable assaults on journalists, and President Macky Sall, who had declared himself willing to decriminalize press offences, took office. Much remains to be proved in 2013, as was illustrated by the prison sentence handed down on a journalist in December.

In Liberia (97th, +13), the presidential election in November 2011 had been tainted by the closure of several media outlets and attacks on journalists. In 2012, the atmosphere improved greatly. In the summer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the second African head of state, after Mahamadou Issoufou ofNiger, to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, thereby undertaking to promote media freedom.

Namibia (19th), Cape Verde (25th) and Ghana (30th) maintained their record as the highest ranked African countries

ETHIOPIA

Reporters Without Borders hails Swedish journalists’ release

The Ethiopian government has released reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson, who spent 14 months in prison on convictions for (…)

Published on 10 September 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

Columnist’s sentence on terrorism charges cut from 14 to 5 years

Ethiopia’s federal supreme court reduced columnist Reyot Alemu’s jail sentence from 14 to five years in prison on 3 August after overturning her (…)

Published on 8 August 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

Although still at draft stage, new telecoms rules give cause for concern

Reporters Without Borders wishes to correct a report published on its website on 7 June stating that the 2012 Proclamation on Telecom Fraud (…)

Published on 6 July 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

Government steps up control of news and information

Ethiopia’s only ISP, state-owned Ethio-Telecom, has just installed a system for blocking access to the Tor network, which lets users browse (…)

Published on 7 June 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

Leading weekly’s website blocked for past six days

Reporters Without Borders is very worried to learn that access to the Amharic website of Ethiopia’s leading independent, privately-owned weekly, (…)

Published on 26 April 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

“Journalists are not terrorists”

Reporters Without Borders has just visited Ethiopia, where two Swedish journalists, Kontinent news agency reporter Martin Schibbye and (…)

Published on 24 January 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

Two journalists sentenced to 14 years on terrorism charges

A week after being found guilty of participating in a terrorist organization and preparing a terrorist attack, the Ethiopian journalists Reyot (…)

Published on 24 January 2012 Read

ETHIOPIA

Two Swedish journalists sentenced to 11 years in prison

Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, the two Swedish journalists who were convicted by an Addis Ababa court on 21 December on charges of entering (…)

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Eritrea

Back on the air

Published on 18 February 2013Read

ERITREA

What really happened at Asmara’s ministry of (dis)information ?

The Eritrean capital, Asmara, saw an uprising on 21 January that was both unexpected and short-lived. Around 100 soldiers staged a mutiny and (…)

Published on 24 January 2013 Read

ERITREA

Complaint filed in Paris about jamming of Radio Erena

Reporters Without Borders filed a complaint with the public prosecutor in Paris on 6 November accusing persons unknown of acts of piracy against (…)

Published on 8 November 2012 Read

ERITREA

Three jurists refer imprisoned journalist’s case to African human rights panel

Three European jurists referred the case of the imprisoned Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaac to the African Commission on Human and (…)

Published on 29 October 2012 Read

ERITREA

Eritrea’s exile journalists appeal to international community

The Association of Eritrean Journalists in Exile (AEJE), a Reporters Without Borders partner organization, issued a press release on 18 September (…)

Published on 20 September 2012 Read

ERITREA

RWB-backed satellite radio station sabotaged again

Radio Erena, a Paris-based satellite radio station that broadcasts to Eritreans in Eritrea and to the Eritrean diaspora, is again the target of a (…)

Published on 6 September 2012 Read

ERITREA

Pirate transmission silences sole independent news outlet for three weeks

Radio Erena (Our Eritrea), a Paris-based radio station that broadcasts to Eritrea, one of the world’s most closed countries, and to the Eritrean (…)

Published on 3 September 2012 Read

ERITREA

Three journalists held since 2001 die in Eiraeiro prison camp

After several weeks of investigating reports from sources in Eritrea and from prison guards who fled the country, Reporters Without Borders has (…)

Published on 30 August 2012 Read

ERITREA

Detained Eritrean journalist admitted to hospital in serious condition

Reporters Without Borders has learned that the journalist Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu, in custody since her arrest in February 2009, was admitted (…)

1. Eritrea

According to Reporters Without Borders, with at “least 30 behind bars [Eritrea] is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists.” Following a widespread government crackdown in 2001, there are no independent news outlets in Eritrea. Of the eleven journalists who were imprisoned in 2001, seven have already died in prison or killed themselves. The government, led by the Information Minister Ali Abdu, uses intimidation and imprisonment to maintain control information.

2. North Korea

The North Korean government exercises direct and total control over the media in the country, which is tasked with glorifying the state and its former leader Kim Il-sung. Although independent North Korean radio stations exist in South Korea, thousands “of North Koreans have been detained for listening to a foreign radio station, making phone calls abroad or publicly questioning the sole political party.”

North Korea is also one of the hardest countries for foreign journalists to cover, with access and freedom of movement severely restricted.

3. Turkmenistan

Similar to North Korea, local media in Turkmenistan is “under total state control.” According to Reporters Without Borders, journalists are required to “cover the president’s “achievements” and “good works,” radio and TV stations and newspapers are scolded when they fail to show enough fervour and deference towards him, and are subjected to arbitrary appointments and dismissals.”

While the internet may offer some hope for change, access is severely restricted and “independent journalists have to operate clandestinely and risk arbitrary detention or even torture.” Journalists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev, both held on fabricated charges, were only released earlier this year after seven years in prison.

4. Syria

While privately-owned media outlets have emerged in Syria, the state “has always maintained a stranglehold on news content,” through web censorship, harassment and abuse of journalists, media blackouts on dissent, and the arrest and expulsion of foreign reporters.

According to Reporters Without Borders, of all the countries on the list, Syria is the one which saw “most attacks on freedom of information.” It went on to say that reporters are being “targeted by all the parties to the conflict – the regular army and the various opposition factions – who are waging an information war.”

5. Somalia

 

Already this year four journalists have been killed in Somalia, adding to the eighteen killed last year. Journalists in the country operate under the constant threat of arbitrary arrest and detention, surviving, in the words of one Somali reporter, only by living in a “state of paranoia constantly assessing and reassessing your surroundings.” Not only is the number of targeted assassinations is alarming, but some journalists have “ended up in jail even without publishing or airing a report.”

As we reflect on the severe restrictions that journalists in the above countries face, we must also remain critical of the state of the media in countries that are so often held up as beacons of freedom. While obviously not on the same scale as what is happening in Eritrea or Somalia, things such as the hacking scandal in Britain and the arrest of journalists covering the Occupy movement in the U.S. should also give us pause for thought.

 

 

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Press Jail House, the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa is known being the Jail house of the world Journalist.  In the past twenty years many has been kidnapped, jailed   and even killed. Some are still languishing in prison with no appeal.    In   the Horn a journalist either put in jail by the government or kidnapped by the rebels for ransom  or recognition.  Many diaper without knowing there where about. Only those journalists known by the media are reported, the small local reporters working on the ground are persona non Grata.

“With many African countries marking the 50th anniversary of their independence, 2010 should have been a year of celebration but the continent’s journalists were not invited to the party. The Horn of Africa continues to be the region with the least press freedom but there were disturbing reverses in the Great Lakes region and East Africa.” (reporter)

Eritrea

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Eritrea ranked  1st  from the Horna nd from the rest of the world by scoring at the top 178 place from 178

“A brutal dictatorship cut off from the external world and digital universe, trying to keep its population away from the Web by resorting to a variety of tactics such as technical barriers or attempts to intimidate users. In instances of social unrest, it does not hesitate to block Internet access.”

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Eritrea (178th) is at the very bottom of the world ranking for the fourth year running. At least 30 journalists and four media contributors are held incommunicado in the most appalling conditions, without right to a trial and without any information emerging about their situation. Journalists employed by the state media – the only kind of media tolerated – have to choose between obeying the information ministry’s orders or trying to flee the country. The foreign media are not welcome.

“I was in bed when my wife turned on the radio to listen to the morning news. ‘Starting today, September 18, 2001, the government has ordered all private presses to stop their publications,'” he recalls. “I felt as if I was dreaming. I didn’t move my head. I was still under the blanket.”

Freelance journalist Seyoum Tsehaye, a veteran of Eritrea’s independence war against Ethiopia and a former head of state-owned Eri-TV, was arrested in Asmara on 21 September 2001. Now he is prisoner No. 10 at Eiraeiro, a prison camp in the northeast of the country.

A reporter for state-owned Radio Dimtsi Hafash’s Oromo-language service, Daniel Mussie was arrested in November 2006 following the defection of several well-known journalists, because the authorities suspected him of staying in contact with the fugitives or seeking to flee himself. He is being held in Adi Abeito military prison, in the northwestern outskirts of Asmara.

Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu, one of Eritrea’s few women journalists, was aged 27 when she was arrested on 22 February 2009 at Radio Bana, a small radio station broadcasting educational programmes under the education ministry’s supervision. She has been held in solitary confinement for months in May Srwa prison, just to the north of the capital, without anyone knowing what she is alleged to have done.

In all, around 30 journalists are festering in prisons in Eritrea. Some of them have been there for years.

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  • (AFP) – Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak is one of the inmates in the Eritrean “death camps” where political leaders and journalists have died.

    •  EU urged to halt aid to Eritrea
    • “Release Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak”

    Six former Eritrean government officials and a number of journalists have died in prison since their incarceration nearly a decade ago, a former prison guard said on Thursday.

    Former vice president Mahmoud Sherifo, military chief of staff Ogbe Abraha, and central committee members Aster Fisehatsion, Germano Nati, Hamid Himid and Salih Kekya were part of a group of 15 high-profile politicians that criticised President Isaias Afeworki and asked for reform in 2001.

    The six were among the eleven members who were subsequently rounded up and sent to the remote Embatkala and Eraeiro camps where temperatures can soar to up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 F).

    “Ogbe tried to commit suicide but failed before he succumbed to asthma six months later in 2002. Mahmoud died from a neck infection in 2003,” Eyob Bahta told journalists three months after fleeing to Ethiopia.

    “The other four all died from illness and heat exhaustion. They were never given proper medication or food,” he added.

    The former guard said the remaining five were still alive but extremely ill, including former foreign minister Haile Woldetensae, who has lost his sight while in prison.

    Eyob, who took his position as head of the camp’s ten guards a month before the round up, said there were 35 inmates in 2001 but 15 have died ever since, including five journalists.

    “One of the journalists had committed suicide, while the rest all died of illness,” he said.

    Swedish media and rights groups demonstrated Monday demanding the release of Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, who is one of the inmates.

    The groups called on the European Union to halt aid to Eritrea until his release as well as the closure of the “death camps”.

    Authorities in Asmara were not immediately available for comment.

    Rights groups say Eritrea has turned into a “giant prison” where detentions, torture and prolonged military conscription have become rife since a 2001 crackdown.

    An Ethiopian refugee agency says up to 2,000 mostly young men and women were now crossing the border each month to “avoid excessive repression, gross human rights violations and forced conscription into the army.”

    In addition to the 49,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, hundreds arrive every month to neighboring Sudan, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

    Sudan

    Sudan ranked  2nd in the Horn and 6the place higher from Eritrea in the whole raking 172nd

    The temporary lifting of prior censorship on the print media in Sudan (172nd) was just a smokescreen. It has fallen 24 places and now has Africa’s second worst ranking, partly as a result of the closure of the opposition daily Rai-al-Shaab and the jailing of five members of its staff, but above all because of the return of state surveillance of the print media, which makes it impossible to cover key stories such as the future referendum on South Sudan’s independence.

    Somalia

    Somalia raked 3rd in the Horn  is even better than Sudan and Eritrea with   lot of Blood on her hand , all the war and kidnapping  ranked  the  the  161st  place

    In Somalia (161st), the media are not being spared by the civil war between the transitional government and Islamist militias, and journalists often fall victim to the violence. The two leading Islamist militias, Al-Shabaab and Hizb-Al-Islam, are gradually seizing control of independent radio stations and using them to broadcast their religious and political propaganda.

    Ethiopia

    Ethiopia ranked 4th in the horn of Africa  with 139 place  as a jailer and killer  and banner of free expression….. a  regime that puts in jail and work  on you and let you go astray ..

    “The spectre of the 2005 crackdown on the opposition and on the independent press is resurfacing in the run-up to the May 2010 general elections,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We condemn the fact that a weekly has been forced to close because of a smear campaign and because its staff was gripped by fear. We hope the government’s assurances will allow it to resume publishing soon.”

    Surveillance of the press and a decline in the climate for journalists during the May elections account for Ethiopia’s continued bad ranking (139th). Violence against journalists, arbitrary police arrests and intelligence agency abuses explain why Nigeria (145th) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (148th) are still in the bottom third.

    Djibouti 110th place took the 5th position famous for pardoning and jailing back ..

    Reporters Without Borders has protested against the re-arrest of newspaper editor Daher Ahmed Farah on 5 June, just two days after his release, and has called on the authorities to set him free at once. The editor of the newspaper Le Renouveau and head of the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD), Farah is the subject of several libel suits by the armed forces.

    Kenya took the 6th place in killing journalist ranking 74 for in all over

    Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the murder of Francis Kainda Nyaruri, a freelance journalist based in the southwestern town of Nyamira, whose decapitated body was found on 29 January in a nearby forest. He had been missing since 16 January.

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    Uganda

    Uganda ranked 5th in the Horn of Africa ranking 96 from 178 in general index.

    “Not only are the libel accusations unfounded, but the methods being used by the police to intimidate him are disgraceful,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities are violating his right to the presumption of innocence, although this is guaranteed by Ugandan law. This disturbing development highlights the lack of freedom for Ugandan journalists as the country enters a crucial period, the run-up to the 2011 elections.”

    A total of 15 journalists are currently being prosecuted in Uganda, facing sentences ranging from several months to several years in prison. Most of them are charged with criminal defamation or sedition. One of them, Patrick Otim of Mega FM, a station based in the northern city of Gulu, is facing a possible death sentence on a charge of treason. Arrested in June, he is accused of being a member of the rebel Uganda Patriotic Front.

    Kenya ranked 71 th from 178

    Kenya is the best in the Horn of Africa concerning freedom of Press compered from its neighbours ranking 71st from over all.

    President Kibaki urged not to sign draconian media bill into law

    Reporters Without Borders has written to Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki urging him not to sign the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008 into law. Otherwise known as the ICT Bill, it was adopted by parliament on 10 December.