With the recent trial, conviction, and sentencing of journalist Eskinder Nega and seven political opposition figures under the Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, the United States today expressed concern by saying the conviction extremely harsh.
In her remarks at the Ethiopian court’s sentencing in Anti-Terrorism trial in DC, Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland
says the sentences handed down today, including 18 years for Eskinder and life imprisonment for the opposition leader Andualem Arage has reinforced US serious questions about the politicized use of Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law.
Ms. Nuland stresses that the Ethiopian government has used the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to jail journalists and opposition party members for peacefully exercising their freedoms of expression and association.
She notes that this practice raises serious concerns about the extent to which Ethiopians can rely upon their constitutionally guaranteed rights to afford the protection that is a fundamental element of a democratic society.
“We reiterate our call for the Government of Ethiopia to stop stifling freedom of expression.” -Ms. Nuland
She urges the release of those who have been imprisoned for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega is accused of violating the country’s draconian anti-terrorism law as a result of his high-profile promotion of press freedom.
Reports say there is the chance he could be sentenced to death under Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
Nega has been imprisoned since last September after he posted an online column that called to account the Ethiopian government for its arrest of dissidents, use of torture in prisons and denial of freedom of expression rights.
In addition, journalists and human rights advocates around the world have called for the release of Nega, who was honored last month with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.