EU urges Ethiopia to release journalists, revise terror law
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A European Union parliamentary delegation urged Ethiopia on Wednesday to release journalists and opposition politicians jailed under an anti-terror law, and revise the legislation that critics say is used to stifle dissent.
Ethiopian opposition parties routinely accuse the government of harassment and say their candidates are often intimidated in polls. All but two of the 547 seats in the legislature are held by the ruling party.
Critics point to a 2009 anti-terrorism law that makes anyone caught publishing information that could induce readers to commits acts of terrorism liable to jail terms of 10-to-20 years.
Last year, an Ethiopian court handed sentences of eight years to life to 20 journalists and opposition figures on charges of conspiring with rebels to topple the government.
“We note flaws in the impartiality of the judicial system,” said Barbara Lochbihler, who led the delegation to the Horn of Africa country.
“Therefore we also call on the Ethiopian authorities to release all journalists, members of the opposition and others arbitrarily detained or imprisoned for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression, freedom of association, as well as freedom of religion and belief.”
Government officials were not immediately available for comment, but they often dismiss claims that they are cracking down on dissent. They say the law is needed to fight separatist rebels and armed groups they say are backed by arch-foe Eritrea. Read More