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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.

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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.

Freedom is not Free in Dictatorial Ethiopia 2010

Freedom House has made the yearly report for political freedom, 2010. We  we have made the following extract concerning Ethiopia.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Major declines were recorded in Ethiopia and Djibouti, both of which dropped from Partly Free to Not Free. In addition, declines were noted in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Zambia. Improvements were noted in Kenya, Nigeria, Somaliland, and Tanzania, as well as in Guinea, which received an improvement in status from Not Free to Partly Free.

Ethiopia (2010)

Capital: Addis Ababa

Population:82,825,000

Political Rights Score: 5
Civil Liberties Score: 5
Status: Partly Free

Trend Arrow

Ethiopia received a downward trend arrow due to the narrowing of political space in advance of the 2010 elections, the government’s crackdown on the operations of nongovernmental organizations, and its passing of a draconian antiterrorism law.

Overview

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government bolstered restrictions on political activity in 2009 as it prepared for federal and regional elections scheduled for 2010. Opposition party activists were arrested, and a new antiterrorism law gave the government broad authority to crack down on perceived opponents. Other legislation enacted during the year imposed strict controls on civil society organizations.


One of the few African countries to avoid decades of European colonization, Ethiopia ended a long tradition of monarchy in 1974, when Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a Marxist military coup. Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam ruled the country until a coalition of guerrilla groups led by forces from the northern Tigray region overthrew his brutal dictatorship in 1991. The main rebel group, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), formed a new regime, and its leader Meles Zenawi became interim president.
Under the EPRDF, democratic institutions and a new constitution were introduced. Most of the opposition boycotted elections held in 1995, claiming harassment of its supporters precluded a fair vote, and Meles became prime minister. He began a second five-year term after the 2000 elections, which the EPRDF also won easily. Opposition parties and some observers criticized the government’s conduct of the vote.
A border dispute with Eritrea, which had gained formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long guerrilla conflict, triggered a war that lasted from 1998 to 2000. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission was then established to draw a new border, but Ethiopia rejected its 2002 decision to assign the town of Badme to Eritrea.
In the 2005 elections for the powerful lower house of Parliament, the EPRDF and its allies won 327 seats, while the two main opposition parties took 161 seats, up from 12 in the previous Parliament. Notwithstanding their gains, opposition parties argued that fraud and interference in the electoral process had deprived them of outright victory. Street demonstrations led to violence and a harsh reaction by the authorities. At least 193 people were killed and more than 4,000 were arrested, including leading opposition figures, who were finally pardoned and released in 2007.
The opposition boycotted local elections in 2008, accusing the EPRDF of harassment. Opposition activities were further restricted in 2009, as the EPRDF prepared for the 2010 federal and regional elections. In June, 45 members of an unregistered political party were charged with trying to topple the government.
Ethiopia’s relations with neighboring countries were tense but stable in 2009. The border dispute with Eritrea remained unresolved, but Ethiopian forces completed their withdrawal from Somalia, ending a disastrous three-year campaign aimed at destroying Islamist rebel groups and propping up the war-torn country’s Transitional Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia continued to face separatist movements in Oromiya and the Ogaden. Sporadic fighting persisted between government forces and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) guerrillas. The authorities have banned journalists from the region, preventing the outside world from accurately assessing the situation there.

Ongoing drought in parts of the country in 2009 led to a warning that five million people would be in need of food aid, in addition to the eight million who already received it. The drought also reduced Ethiopia’s hydroelectric power output, causing frequent outages in Addis Ababa and contributing to a growth rate of less than 2 percent according to the United Nations, which was far less than the 10 percent claimed by the government.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Ethiopia is not an electoral democracy. However, the presence of a significant elected opposition at the federal level since 2005 does mark a possible step forward in the development of the country’s democratic political culture.
The bicameral Parliament consists of a 108-seat upper house, the House of Federation, and a 547-seat lower house, the House of People’s Representatives. The lower house is filled through popular elections, while the upper chamber is selected by the state legislatures, with both serving five-year terms. The House of People’s Representatives selects the prime minister, who holds most executive power, and the president, who serves in a largely ceremonial capacity for six-year terms. The 1995 constitution has a number of unique features, including a federal structure that grants certain powers and the right of secession to ethnically based states. However, in 2003 the central government acquired additional powers to intervene in states’ affairs when public security is deemed to be at risk.
More than 60 legally recognized political parties are active in Ethiopia, but the EPRDF dominates political life. Government harassment has seriously impeded the ability of opposition parties to function, although some have used rhetoric that could be interpreted as advocating violence, or have failed to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with a democratic political culture.
A recent series of arrests of opposition figures appeared to signal a crackdown on political freedoms in advance of the 2010 elections. Unity for Democracy and Justice party leader Birtukan Mideksa, who had received a sentence of life in prison after the 2005 postelection violence and was pardoned in 2007, was rearrested in December 2008 after her pardon was revoked. In June 2009, 46 people were charged with plotting to overthrow the government on behalf of Ginbot 7, an unregistered party. In November, a court convicted 26 of the defendants after a trial that legal rights groups criticized as unfair. However, a high-profile opponent of the government, the singer Tewodros Kassahun, known as Teddy Afro, was released early from a two-year prison sentence in August 2009; he had been convicted for a hit-and-run automobile accident, but his supporters claimed that the case was politically motivated.
The government has taken a number of steps to limit corruption, including the imposition of asset-disclosure rules for state officials. However, graft remains a significant problem. Former prime minister Tamrat Layne and former defense minister Seye Abreha were convicted of corruption in 2007, but both had been released by the end of 2008, having already served several years in prison on other corruption charges.Ethiopia was ranked 120 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.
The news media are dominated by state-owned broadcasters and government-oriented newspapers. There are a number of independent newspapers, but they struggle financially and face intermittent government harassment. The only independent newspaper in the capital, Addis Neger, suspended operations in November, as staff said they feared prosecution by the authorities. A 2008 media law has had a chilling effect on freedom of speech. Although it barred government censorship of private media, the measure allowed prosecutors to seize material before publication in the name of national security and gave the government broader powers to pursue defamation cases. Journalists who fall foul of the government risk exile or imprisonment. In two separate cases in August 2009, journalists were given one-year prison sentences for spreading false information. Internet usage is confined mainly to major urban areas, and the government has blocked opposition-run websites.
Constitutionally mandated religious freedom is generally respected, although religious tensions have risen in recent years. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is influential, particularly in the north. In the south there is a large Muslim community, made up mainly of the Somali, Oromo, and Afari ethnic groups.
Academic freedom is restricted. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has accused universities of being friendly to the opposition, and their activities are closely monitored. In recent years, student protests against government policies have led to scores of deaths and injuries and hundreds of arrests. The government has tried to establish a more orderly and loyal academic community by creating 13 new state universities. Growing intolerance of dissent has dampened private discussion in the country, as even ordinary citizens face harassment or arrest for speaking out against the government.
Freedoms of assembly and association are limited. In January 2009, the House of People’s Representatives passed the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which is designed to restrict the ability of foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to bypass government channels when they disburse funds. Foreign NGOs are defined as groups that receive more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad. The measure also gives the government broad authority to restrict NGO activities it deems unhelpful, such as campaigning for human and political rights. All civil society organizations are required to reregister with the government under the new rules.
Trade union rights are tightly restricted. Government workers in “essential industries,” a term that is broadly defined, are not allowed to strike, and the Confederation of Ethiopian Unions is under government control. Some union leaders suspected of engaging in political activity have been removed from their elected offices or forced to leave the country. All unions must be registered, and the government retains the authority to cancel union registration.
The judiciary is officially independent, although there have been few significant examples of decisions at variance with government policy. Suspects are routinely held without warrants, and cases can take a long time to reach court. A draconian new counterterrorism law, passed by the government in July 2009, defines terrorist activity very broadly and gives great discretion to the security forces. According to Human Rights Watch, the law could be used to prosecute peaceful political protesters and impose the death penalty for offenses as minor as damaging public property. Conditions in Ethiopia’s prisons are harsh, and the International Committee of the Red Cross is not permitted to inspect federal facilities and police stations. Detainees frequently report being abused or tortured.
The government has tended to favor Tigrayan ethnic interests in economic and political matters. Politics within the EPRDF have been dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. Discrimination against other groups, especially the Oromo, has been widespread. According to the International Crisis Group, Ethiopia’s federal system of government, which grants autonomy to the dominant ethnic group in each region, has increased tensions between communities. Repression of the Oromo and ethnic Somalis, and government attempts to co-opt their parties into subsidiaries of the EPRDF, have helped to fuel nationalism in both Oromiya and the Ogaden.
The government has established a Women’s Affairs Ministry, and Parliament has passed legislation designed to protect women’s rights. In practice, however, women’s rights are routinely violated. Women have traditionally had few land or property rights, especially in rural areas, where there is little opportunity for female employment beyond agricultural labor. General deficiencies in education exacerbate the problems of rural poverty and gender inequality. According to the NGO Save the Children, Ethiopia has one of the lowest rates of school enrollment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Somaliland Free Land

Somaliland Free Land , Prof Muse Tegegne

Opposition candidate wins Somaliland election

Ahmed Mohamed Siilanyo, chairman of KULMIYE won the Election Democratically . The 1st in the Horn of Africa

The Ex British Somaliland( Hargesa), today self declared indepedant state of Somalia is running the second democratic election in the Horn of Africa while the Puntland has  became a  a pirate-land, ( Bassaso) and Somalia ( Mogadishu ) in total chaos . The  May 2010 elections in Sudan and Ethiopia have been ragged, while in  of Kenya violently  contested.

Three men, Dahir Riyale Kahin, Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo and Feysal Ali Warabe, are vying to become president of the unrecognised region, a haven of relative peace in the northwest of Somalia. The candidates had agreed to hold campaign rallies on different days in order to avoid f violence between supporters.

Somaliland became a de facto independent Republic in 1991, after the collapse of the central government in Somalia, the main part of the territory declared its independence  on18 May 1991. It is the  successor state to British Somaliland which was independent for a few days in 1960 as the State of Somaliland.

Abderahman Ahmed Ali Tuur became its It s 1st president in 1991 .   In 1993  Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal was appointed by the parlament of the clan eleders. Egal was reappointed in 1997, and remained in power until his death on May 3, 2002.  The vice president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, was sworn in as president shortly afterwards, and in 2003, Kahin became the first president of Somaliland elected in a free and fair election.

The War in Somalia between the Islamic Courts Union, the forces of Ethiopia and Somalia’s transitional government did not touch Somaliland.

Earlier this week, overall Shebab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, a native of Somaliland, issued an audio message warning the breakaway state’s population that they would “face the consequences” if they cast their ballot.

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httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rtosZRbTqk

Somaliland’s Historical Election for Change set for Tomorrow 26th of June 2010 thumbnail

Somaliland set to decide
Aljazeera.net
Somalia has been ravaged by war for years, but a northern strip of the country, called Somaliland, has been living in relative peace. 
GlobalPost

5 ways to stop a pirate
GlobalPost
It’s high tide for pirates off the coast of Somalia. Read what’s been done about it, and how much there is left to do. By Stephanie Hanson — Special to 

Al-Shabaab warns against polls
Daily Nation
In addition, the Al-Shabaab leader warned all Islamists in Somalia against deviation from Jihad and Sharia (Islamic) laws. The message from Sheikh Abu 

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqCYovx7Pug

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Somaliland's presidential candidate, Faisal Ali Farah, has lived for many years in Finland.

Somaliland’s presidential candidate, Faisal Ali Farah, has lived for many years in Finland.

Faisal Ali Farah lived for several years in Finland.

Finnish observers are among the group of tens of foreigners overseeing the elections.

It is feared extreme Islamic groups ruling in Somalia could try to interfere with the poll and security is tight in the region.

Observers say long queues have formed outside polling stations.

Somaliland proclaimed independence in 1991 but has failed to gained the recognition of other states. Compared to the chaos in Somalia, conditions in the region are calm and stable.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y47qYDqhgy0