US calls Ethiopia to free jailed journalists

USA voices concerns about detentions and calls its close ally Ethiopia to free jailed journalists

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The White House has called Ethiopia to stop jailing journalists, who "exercise their right to free expression," by using controversial anti-terror law.

Ethiopia, a key US ally in Africa, should "refrain from using its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation as a mechanism to silence dissent and to protect the rights of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely as voices of a diverse nation," the White House said in a statement.

US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, "we are deeply concerned by the recent arrests of other journalists."

"We urge the Ethiopian Government to release journalists and all others imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression," he added.

US President Barack Obama on his visit to Ethiopia in July 2015, gave a speech at the seat of the African Union in Addis Ababa and said that Ethiopia "cannot unleash the full potential of its people" if the country jails journalists and restricts legitimacy of opposition groups.

Human rights groups repeatedly criticised Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law. Peaceful protests generally have faced with police brutality and government crackdown in Ethiopia while many bloggers and journalists have been arrested related to anti-terrorism law.

At least 75 people had been killed this month during weeks of protests in Ethiopia by police brutality when soldiers and police fired on demonstrators according to Human Rights Watch.

Rights group said, "Instead of calling protesters ‘terrorists’, Ethiopia should rein in security forces and respect rights."

Additionally, Ethiopian court also sentenced 18 Muslims in August, including clerics and a journalist, to up to 22 years in prison under controversial anti-terrorism law.

TRTWorld and agencies