The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum have condemned the continued imprisonment of Ethiopian journalists under the country's Anti-Terror Proclamation -- including the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom laureate Eskender Nega -- and have called for their immediate release.
In a letter to Prime Minster, Hailemariam Desalegn, the global press organisations called on the Ethiopian authorities to unconditionally release Eskinder Nega, and four other journalists: Solomon Kebede, Wubset Taye, Reyot Alemu and Yusuf Getachew. All are serving jail sentences through the misuse of Ethiopia's anti-terror legislation.
Eskinder Nega, a publisher, journalist and blogger serving an 18-year jail sentence, was last week awarded the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of WAN-IFRA that recognises the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, a group or an institution in the cause of press freedom.
In its letter to the Prime Minister, WAN-IFRA urged Ethiopian authorities to end the misuse of anti-terror legislation to jail journalists and those critical of the government, saying the practice was unwarranted and violated international protocols, including the Vienna Declaration on Terrorism, Media and the Law.
It called on the Prime Minister to immediately release Mr Nega, in accordance with international standards of human rights and freedom of expression, and to allow him to receive the Golden Pen of Freedom in person at the World Newspaper Congress in Torino, Italy, on 9 June 2014.
The protest campaign follows an international mission held in November 2013 with the International Press Institute (IPI), where the two press freedom organisations were denied access to visit journalists in jail and had their requests to meet with members of the government left unanswered. The international mission also called for the immediate release of the jailed journalists.