By Tadesse Yimer
As we know the TPLF won the presidential election in a landslide victory the Late Prime Minister has been in power since 1991. This government has yet to demonstrate effectively its commitment to democracy, and civil and political rights, especially the right to freedom of expression. On the contrary, as this article demonstrates, Ethiopia’s human rights record is decreasing at an alarming rate.
-The right of the Ethiopian people to receive and give information regardless of frontiers is their inalienable right to have the information they need to make informed decisions about their form of government, leaders and lives.
The right to free speech, free press, and association are pertinent components to a healthy democracy and a strong civil society. The TPLF has stated that it is committed to upholding its own laws and international laws, but the evidence over the last two decades has demonstrated otherwise.
Since the 2005 presidential elections, Ethiopia’s human rights record has been decreasing at an alarming rate. The 2005 elections were marred by violence and fraud drawing international attention. As a result, the Ethiopian government rapidly began to crack down on freedom of speech and the press. Journalists were arrested, publishing houses were heavily fined, and new legislation was passed criminalizing freedom of expression that the government deemed dangerous or conducive to terrorism. For the last ten years, the TPLF, which has been in power since 1991, has been acquiring more control over social media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which has resulted in silencing independent media outlets and local human rights organizations.
In July 2008, Ethiopia’s parliament adopted the Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, more commonly known as the ‘Press Law.’ According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure, the Press Law made some progressive changes such as barring pre-trial detention of journalists; however it included:
(1) broad government power to initiate defamation suits,
(2) heavy financial penalties for publishing houses, journalists or organizations that do not adhere to overly restrictive guidelines, and (3) the power to arbitrarily deny licenses and registration to NGOs.
Many NGOs in Ethiopia have closed down or moved abroad over the last decade, while other organizations attempt to keep running even with the government’s frequent efforts to shut them down. For example, HRW states, “the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, the Ethiopian WomenLawyers Association, and other prominent Ethiopian human rights groups have faced repeated bureaucratic efforts to shut them down.”
Posted by Tadesse Yimer