World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Ethiopia, 9 July 2015

Protest Campaign - Ethiopia, 9 July 2015

Article ID:


H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
P.O.Box 1031
Addis Ababa

(By email)

9 July 2015

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF), which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to welcome the recent decision to release five journalists from prison and urge you in your capacity as head of state to go further and free Eskinder Nega and all journalists who remain in jail under Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation.
Mr Nega, a publisher, journalist and blogger was arrested in September 2011 on charges of supporting terrorism and sentenced to 18 years in jail. He was arrested after criticising the government’s use of anti-terrorism laws to jail other journalists and opposition figures.

According to reports, at least eleven other journalists are currently in jail in your country, a statistic that gives Ethiopia the notoriety of being second only to Eritrea on the African continent in jailing critical independent media professionals. As with those who were recently released, these journalists should never have been imprisoned to begin with.
We respectfully remind you that we have yet to receive replies to our letters of 31 January 2014, 3 May 2014, and 3 June 2014 in which we requested that you release all jailed journalists and informed you that our organisation had awarded the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom – an annual prize awarded by WAN-IFRA since 1961 to recognise the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, a group or an institution in the cause of press freedom – to Mr Nega.
We urge you to capitalise on this newfound respect for freedom of expression that the 8 July releases have encouraged and to follow it up with a strong commitment to safeguarding press freedom in Ethiopia by immediately releasing the remaining imprisoned journalists in accordance with international standards of human rights and freedom of expression. 
We would also like to reiterate our offer to meet with government representatives to discuss the issues raised in a press freedom report published jointly with the International Press Institute following a visit to your country in November 2013. The report made a number of recommendations that remain relevant today, including:

  1. Revamping the anti-terror law to ensure that it does not contravene the rights of freedom of speech and assembly provided under Article 29 of the Ethiopian Constitution and further guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the U.N. Human Rights Covenant, which Ethiopia has ratified.
  2. Recommending that your government reviews laws that bar foreign investment in media, measures that inhibit the development of an economically viable and diversified market.
  3. Urging the courts to ensure that rulings restrict press freedom only in cases of intentional incitement or clear participation in acts of terrorism, and that judges act independently to protect the public’s right to be informed about political dissent and acts of terrorism.
  4. Urging Ethiopia’s journalists and media owners to step up cooperation to improve professionalism and independence, and to form a unified front to defend press freedom.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,


Tomas Brunegård
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Marcelo Rech
World Editors Forum



WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organisation groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2015-07-09 17:51

Contact information

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...