Why Ethiopia’s Media Crackdown Is Bad for Africa
Without a free press in Addis Ababa, Africans are being locked out of the important decisions being made in their de facto capital, writes Simon Allison
It’s not easy being a journalist in Ethiopia. In fact, it’s nearly impossible, according to a new 76-page Human Rights Watch report that documents the scale of the state’s censorship apparatus. As a journalist, it makes for highly disturbing reading.
“Ethiopia’s government has systematically assaulted the country’s independent voices, treating the media as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis,” says Leslie Lefkow, the organisation’s deputy Africa director.
“Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.”
The authors of the report spoke to 70 Ethiopian journalists, many in exile, who painted a dismal picture of the state of Ethiopian media. The government exerts control in many different ways – some subtle, some quite the opposite.