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Zone 9 Bloggers Charged by Ethiopian Court for Terrorism

Pat Robert  Larubi - 19/07/2014 11:54 CDT

Kampala, Kampala, Uganda

Freedom House has callled upon Ethiopian authorities filing terrorism charges against seven members of the Zone Nine bloggers and three independent journalists to drop it off

In a statement issued yesterday by Freedom house, the the journalist who have been in detention since April on counts of terrorism affront to freedom of expression and assembly.

 "None of those charged have been engaged in any terrorist activity. They were advocating for debate and dialogue on democracy, good governance and human rights issues." said, Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs at Freedom House.

"These charges are part of the government's habit of using the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to suppress critical voices and criminalize dissent," Petrovic said.

"The courts should end this practice by rejecting the charges against the bloggers and journalists. Ethiopia's major donor partners, particularly the United States, need to press Ethiopian authorities to drop the charges and to honor their national and international commitments to respect the rights and freedoms of their citizens."

The United States has today expressed eeply concerned over Ethiopian Federal High Court’s July 18 decision to press charges against six bloggers and three independent journalists under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

In a similar occassion the US embassy has voiced over the arrest and urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is fair, transparent, and in compliance with Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees and international human rights obligations.

"We also urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is open to public observation and free of political influence" the statement read.
We reiterate Secretary Kerry’s May 1 call on Ethiopia to refrain from using anti-terrorism laws as a mechanism to curb the free exchange of ideas.

 The use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in previous cases against journalists, activists, and opposition political figures raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elections of a democratic society. The arrest of journalists and bloggers, and their prosecution under terrorism laws, has a chilling effect on the media and all Ethiopians’ right to freedom of expression.

 

The United States has today expressed eeply concerned over Ethiopian Federal High Court’s July 18 decision to press charges against six bloggers and three independent journalists under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

Statement release from the US said, we urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is fair, transparent, and in compliance with Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees and international human rights obligations. We also urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is open to public observation and free of political influence.

We reiterate Secretary Kerry’s May 1 call on Ethiopia to refrain from using anti-terrorism laws as a mechanism to curb the free exchange of ideas. The use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in previous cases against journalists, activists, and opposition political figures raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elections of a democratic society. The arrest of journalists and bloggers, and their prosecution under terrorism laws, has a chilling effect on the media and all Ethiopians’ right to freedom of expression.