EMF | 14 March 2012 – Haileyesus Worku, a journalist at the ruling EPRDF-controlled national broadcaster Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) defected last week to seek asylum abroad. He was released last year after 15 months of jail from the notorious kality prison apparently on vague allegations.
Haileyesus Worku is the 52 government journalists who fled the country due to persistent repression. “Government journalists, who refuse to obey the ruling party’s membership quest would face every castigator measure ranging from harassment to imprisonment,” says Tsegaye Tiku, another government journalist who fled last year.
The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government enacted harsh legislation that criminalized coverage of vaguely defined “terrorist” activities, and used administrative restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and imprisonments to induce self-censorship.
The government has also jammed many international broadcasters and websites like VOA, Deutsch Welle and ESAT. The Ethiopian government is wildly known for its brutality and outrages handling of both governmental and free press journalists. It is believed that more than a hundred free press and 50 government Ethiopian journalists are known to have been exiled in the last 4 years for fear of persecutions.
Six prominent journalists have been held at Zenawi’s kality prison, facing terrorist charges.
According to data compiled by EMF at least 150 journalists have fled the country since 2001 alone, the highest number in the world.