[By Hanna Sisay Kidani from Sweden]
December 18, 2009 – On behalf of the European Union, the Sweden Presidency expresses its concern on freedom of expression in Ethiopia. The declaration stated, The European Union is concerned about the fact that the private newspaper Addis Neger has closed down and the allegations of harassment and intimidation of journalists.
A free and independent media is a cornerstone of a democratic society. The EU urges the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that allegations of harassment and intimidation against any section of the media are investigated and, if proven, that those responsible are held to account. Read the full declaration.
On related news, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson speaks on freedom of expression in Ethiopia.”It is a serious matter that one of the few independent newspapers in Ethiopia has been closed. Reports that journalists have been harassed are a cause for great concern,” says Gunilla Carlsson.
“Free and independent media are one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. It is particularly important that the media are allowed to conduct their business freely and that people are allowed to take part in an open debate ahead of the upcoming elections in Ethiopia next year,” Ms Carlsson stresses.
Freedom of expression is increasingly being limited in Ethiopia. The newspaper Addis Neger has been forced to close and three of its editors have left Ethiopia.
Addis Neger has been one of the few private newspapers in Ethiopia. It was based in Addis Ababa and was published weekly in Amharic. The newspaper has now closed and three of its editors have left the country. According to reports, the editors were threatened with prosecution under a new anti-terrorism law and people working for the newspaper have long been under pressure. The fact that the scope for democracy and pluralism is shrinking in Ethiopia is particularly serious given the upcoming elections in 2010.