The United States is deeply concerned by the Ethiopian Federal High Court’s July 18 decision to press charges against six bloggers and three independent journalists under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
We urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is fair, transparent, and in compliance with Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees and international human rights obligations. We also urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is open to public observation and free of political influence.
We reiterate Secretary Kerry’s May 1 call on Ethiopia to refrain from using anti-terrorism laws as a mechanism to curb the free exchange of ideas. The use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in previous cases against journalists, activists, and opposition political figures raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians' constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elections of a democratic society. The arrest of journalists and bloggers, and their prosecution under terrorism laws, has a chilling effect on the media and all Ethiopians’ right to freedom of expression.