Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the right to freedom of expressionPosted: 30 August, 2013 Filed under: Patrick Griffith | Tags: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, anti-terrorism, Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, Article 19 of the ICCPR, Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, Eskinder Nega, Ethiopia, European Parliament, human rights, journalists, opposition activists, Organisation for African Unity, right to freedom of expression, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, United Kingdom, United Nations 18 Comments
Author: Patrick Griffith
Programme Attorney, Freedom Now
On Wednesday 17 July 2013, members of the European Parliament’s Sub-committee on Human Rights visited Ethiopia and urged the government to release journalists and opposition activists imprisoned under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009 (Anti-Terror Proclamation). The visit is an important reminder that despite widely hailed progress on poverty reduction, the Ethiopian government continues to punish free expression in violation of international law.
Eskinder Nega, an outspoken journalist and blogger who was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment in July 2012, is amongst those arbitrarily detained under the Anti-Terror Proclamation. In early 2011, Nega began writing and speaking publicly about the protest movements then sweeping north Africa. Although initially hesitant to draw direct parallels with Ethiopia, he was clearly supportive of the protesters abroad and critical of his government at home. He also consistently emphasised the importance of non-violence. But despite the clear protection of peaceful free expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is a party, the government reacted by prosecuting Nega as a traitor and terrorist.