August 13 2016 Addis Ababa
The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Ethiopia remains deeply concerned about continuing threats to press freedom in Ethiopia, which include the recent 24-hour detention of three accredited journalists.
Three journalists working in the Arsi Negele area of Oromia region in Ethiopia were detained by authorities for over 24 hours on August 8th and 9th, marking a continuation of obstructions to press freedom in the Horn of Africa nation.
Africa News Agency (ANA) correspondent Hadra Ahmed, who was working as a fixer and translator, and visiting journalists from the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Fred de Sam Lazaro and Thomas Adair, were interviewing farmers about drought- and aid-related issues. They were working with international non-profit Catholic Relief Services. The Shashemene area experienced anti-government demonstrations on August 6 that led to the deaths of protesters. The group was asked to go to nearby Shashemene town police station on Monday afternoon by authorities. Their passports and all equipment were confiscated and the group was told to return to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. The detainees traveled to Addis Ababa under police escort on August 9th and were released by the National Intelligence and Security Services on Tuesday evening after a further 6 hours of interrogation.
They were given no explanation for the detention. They were told not to do reporting outside of Addis Ababa. Officials from the Government Communications Affairs Office, which accredited the journalists, were aware of the situation but unable to secure a quick release. Arbitrary detentions, which typically last for a few hours, are a common impediment for journalists in Ethiopia. The FCAE, an informal network of journalists working for foreign media in Ethiopia, previously highlighted the 24-hour detention of two members in March who were trying cover the ongoing Oromo protests.
“Hadra and her colleagues’ ordeal is the latest example in a long trend of the government preventing journalists from doing their work,” said William Davison, the FCAE’s chairman. “The government should ensure that security officers and local officials respect the rights it grants journalists to travel around Ethiopia and report freely.”