from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – FIVE Ethiopian journalists arrested more than a month ago on allegations of inciting terrorism remain in detention despite failure by police to produce evidence in court.
Bikila Amenu, Gadaa Bulti, Firomsa Bekele, Abdisa Gutata and Adugna Kesowere were arrested on September 5 in the Gerji neighbourhood of the capital Addis Ababa.
The men are part of the Sagalee Qeerroo Bilisumaa (Voice of Youth for Freedom), a platform for reporters on human rights violations and political developments in Ethiopia since 2011.
It was a source of information on the sustained protests that erupted in Oromia in 2015 and resulted in the resignation of then Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
During last Thursday’s court proceeding, police failed to produce evidence for the journalists’ alleged crimes.
Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, said the absence of credible evidence pointed to the fact that there was nothing to investigate.
“The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release these journalists and let them get on with their lives.”
Magango said the use of Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism proclamation to arbitrarily arrest journalists was out of step with ongoing reforms under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“This law must be revised to align with international standards and must no longer be used to harass journalists,” Magango said.
– CAJ News