ARTICLE 19 is disappointed by the conviction of Yusuf Ahmed, editor of YeMuslimoch Guday (Muslims Affairs) magazine, and the continued detention of two journalists, Khalid Mohammed and Darsema Sori working for Radio Bilal on terrorism charges.
“There is evidence that they have been subjected to torture and beating at Maekelawi detention centre. We call upon the government to unconditionally release the journalists,” said Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Regional Director.
On July 6, the Ethiopian Federal High Court, Fourth Criminal Bench passed a guilty verdict on Yusuf, along with eighteen others, including four prominent leaders of the Ethiopian Muslim arbitration committee.
The accused were charged in October 2012 under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (652/2009), after sustained protests by Ethiopian Muslims against interference by the Government during elections of the Islamic Supreme Council. Yusuf had used YeMuslimoch Guday, whose Chief Editor Akemel Negash and Copy Editor Isaac Eshetu are now exiled, to air the grievances of the Muslim community during the protests.
Khalid and Darsema were arrested on February 18 2015, on suspicion of terrorism, and have been in jail since. Radio Bilal was providing extensive coverage of anti-government protests staged by Ethiopian Muslims and Darsema was also a columnist for the defunct Muslim Affairs magazine.
The police took Khalid and Darsema to court four times and received authorization to keep them in custody for four consecutive periods of 28 days each, the maximum allowed under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. However, it has been a month since the last authorized period expired, and they are still in detention without trial date.
ARTICLE 19 therefore calls for the review of the anti-terrorism legislation to ensure it conforms to internationally acceptable limitation on freedom of expression, and not being used to stifle legitimate forms of expression as has been seen in this case.
It also calls upon the government to stop intimidating journalists and human rights defenders in Ethiopia and foster an enabling environment to operate, in accordance with its obligations under international law, including upholding the rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.
Note to editors:
For more information:
Henry Maina, Regional Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
or call on +254 20 3862230/1/2