The United States opposes Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles’ decision to jam Voice of America’s Amharic Service and condemns his comparison of their programming to Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda. Comparing a respected and professional news service to a group that called for genocide in Rwanda is a baseless and inflammatory accusation that seeks only to deflect attention away from the core issue.
The Prime Minister may disagree with news carried in Voice of America’s Amharic Service broadcasts; however, a decision to jam VOA broadcasts contradicts the Government of Ethiopia’s frequent public commitments to freedom of the press. We note that the Ethiopian Constitution states that all citizens have the right to freedom of expression “without any interference” and that this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, “regardless of frontiers.” The Constitution further notes that freedom of the press shall specifically include “prohibition of any form of censorship.” We look to the Government of Ethiopia to abide by its constitution.
We call on the Ethiopian Government to protect the universal and fundamental right of freedom of expression.