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Ethiopia threatens journalist with solitary confinement: CPJ



  08:42:23 pm, by admin   , 741 words  
Categories: Press

Ethiopia threatens journalist with solitary confinement: CPJ

Ethiopia threatens journalist with solitary confinement

April 10, 2013

His Excellency Berhan Hailu
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa

Via facsimile: +251-11-517-755
Via email:

Dear Minister Birhan Hailu,

We are writing to bring to your attention the case of Ethiopian journalist and teacher Reeyot Alemu, whose health has deteriorated since her imprisonment in June 2011 on terrorism charges and who is now being threatened with solitary confinement. The Ethiopian Ministry of Justice has publicly subscribed to a vision in which "human and democratic rights are respected," yet Reeyot's full human rights are being denied to her in Kality Prison.

The Ethiopian High Court sentenced Reeyot, a columnist for the now-defunct independent weekly Feteh, to 14 years in prison on January 2012 under the country's anti-terrorism law. In August 2012, the Supreme Court acquitted her on two counts, but upheld the charge against her of participation in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act, and reduced her sentence to five years.

Prison authorities have threatened Reeyot with solitary confinement for two months as punishment for alleged bad behavior toward them and threatening to publicize human rights violations by prison guards, according to sources close to the journalist who spoke to the International Women's Media Foundation on condition of anonymity. CPJ has independently verified the information. Reeyot has also been denied access to adequate medical treatment after she was diagnosed with a tumor in her breast, the sources said.

We would like to draw your attention to the 2011 report by Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, in which he urged the prohibition of "the imposition of solitary confinement as punishment--either as part of a judicially imposed sentence or a disciplinary measure." We would also remind you that Ethiopia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and is legally bound to uphold these principles.

As a current member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and a signatory to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Ethiopia has committed itself to upholding the human rights of all of its citizens. This includes the right to freedom of expression and speech, as well as protection from cruel and inhumane forms of punishment such as solitary confinement.

All of the charges against Reeyot were based on her journalistic activities--emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups and reports and photographs she had sent to opposition news sites. Reeyot, who received the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award in 2012, has covered key developmental issues in Ethiopia such as poverty, democratic opposition, and gender equality.

The prison sentence against Reeyot for performing her duties and exercising her rights as a journalist to ask questions and express opinions calls into question Ethiopia's commitment to the democratic values and human rights the country claims to uphold.

We urge you to fulfill Ethiopia's promise to build a humane and democratic state by withdrawing the threat of solitary confinement against Reeyot and ensuring her access to adequate medical care. No journalists should face detention or imprisonment in the exercise of their duty.

Yours sincerely,

Joel Simon
Executive Director

CC List:

Shiferaw Tekle-Mariam, minister of federal affairs of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia

Girma Birru Geda, ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States

Donald Booth, ambassador of the United States to Ethiopia

Lieselore Cyrus, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ethiopia

Greg Dorey, ambassador of the United Kingdom to Ethiopia

Xavier Marcha, head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia

Juan E. Méndez, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, U.N. Human Rights Council

Claudio Grossman, chairperson, United Nations Committee against Torture

Firmin Edouard Matoko, UNESCO representative to Ethiopia

Pansy Tlakula, special rapporteur on freedom of expression, African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights

Med S.K. Kaggwa, special rapporteur on prisons and conditions of detention, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Reine Alapini-Gansou, commissioner and special rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Margaret Sekaggya, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Arnold Tsunga, director, Africa Program, International Commission of Jurists

Antoine Bernard, chief executive officer, International Federation for Human Rights

Berhane Melka, head of Federal Prison Administration, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tombet Ariane, head of delegation, International Committee of the Red Cross, Ethiopia

Alana Barton, program manager, International Women's Media Foundation, United States

Tags: media, press


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Comment from: ment4you [Visitor]
5 stars

Typical behavior of those lacking confidence in the out come of democratic election and free speech, suppression and intimidation are the alternatives for toothless TPLF.

We will catch and bring those who violate the people of Ethiopia.

04/10/13 @ 21:17
Comment from: John john [Visitor]
John john
5 stars

This sound like sympathy to fanatic evil cult who want spread violence in the name of religion.

04/10/13 @ 23:22
Comment from: Tesfa Hunduma [Visitor]
Tesfa Hunduma
5 stars

The CPJ is standing up to its mission in communicating the worst situation within which Reeyot is currently in. However, Reeyot is just one of the hundred of thousands of Ethiopians which are victims of inhumane treatment by the EPRDF regime which unfortunately continues to enjoy support from the west. Millions of Ethiopians have been denied the right to free speech, to think independently. We are being tortured psychologically, physically and economically on a daily basis. My message for the west: Please stop killing us by your act of helping dictatorship in Ethiopia

04/11/13 @ 02:45
Comment from: seid Muhumed [Visitor]
seid Muhumed
5 stars

Excellent work CPJ. This is just one story. Thousands of similar ugly cases will come out of Ethiopia if you just scratch little bit further. God damn TPLF….

04/11/13 @ 02:50
Comment from: nenewe [Visitor]


Your complaints about the imprisoned journalist would surely fall on deaf ears as many other complaints before yours. The regime doesn’t care less about your letter nor does it consider your org as a influential. The regime has insanely tried to justify its actions by citing terrorism.

Total submission to the will of TPLF is all that is required to avoid prison and worse solitary confinement.

Expressing differing views & opinions from the carefully prescribed views of TPLF is considered terrorism. The consequences of such blatant charges are what these journalists are facing.

The anti-terrorism law has been designed to suppress dissent. The judges including the justice minister have no real independence to speak of. Their primary duty is not to defend the constitution & uphold justice but to carry out the orders of their political masters.

The courts reduce the prison term by acquitting her on some charges and sent her to prison on the other fabricated charges. She shouldn’t have been charged with any offence let alone terrorism. How can one possibly be charged with terrorism for talking to others who question legitimately the regime’s actions & policies? There are such thing as “only in TPLF-run Ethiopia” happens

The increasingly repressive regime’s intolerance of any form of dissent & its relentless pursuit of total control of a society through intimidation & fear might be its undoing.

04/11/13 @ 06:00
Comment from: Abaze [Visitor]

The English Establishment main ingredients are Journalists/medias including BBC, spying, using puppet regimes, war and biased scholars that are twisting the facts and writing the wrong history because of they are winners and they have resources to do so.

99.9% journalism in the 20 century is the English establishment doctrine works only for them but not to any other nation especially beyond Europe and North America.

The old type of journalism (English born) is dead since Internet took over. 9/11 didn’t kill and destroy for good only the things we know them directly but also many others things including their medias and journalism.

So, CJP which is the English type of Journalism institute is from the past. The new generation has own journalism system very much different than the CJP stands for. The 20 century English born journalism that was used to benefit them doesn’t work in the 21-century. Anyone who is affecting the nation using the dead and criminal old type of English journalism must be dangerous and stupid. These kinds need to be treated as criminals. Because the English establishment media and journalism is a criminal institute affected many nation with biased and distorting stories covering with subjective approach.

Let them go to hell. The world is full with excess of news coming from the owner of the stories.

04/11/13 @ 09:34
Comment from: [Member]

The blood of our heroes will be paid thousand fold!!!
Death to TPLF & its puppets!!!

04/11/13 @ 10:39
Comment from: [Member]


Justice Ministry controls, the Public Prosecution Service, The Federal Police, and the Federal Prison Commission.

Federal prisons are located at Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. The Federal Prisons have branches in Zeway, Shewa- Robbit and Kaliti …… Which makes Hodam Minister Berhan directly responsible to inefficient court processes & inhumane treatments in this prisons especially to political prisoners.

As Hodam Berhan fills his satiety level citizens are receiving a shocking brutality from federal police.

His prosecution team are sleepless for creating a lie for political dissents and they are dead sleep when citizens are dislocated abandoned & tortured.

Individuals like Hodam Berhan, have sold their conscience and appear to be a Minister to advise the regime on legal matter.

Hodam Berhan is a leading instrument to suppress the interest of citizens.

Hodam Berhan is an enemy of citizens of Ethiopia!


04/11/13 @ 12:42
Comment from: [Member]

Hey, CPJ, reyot alemu is a convicted crlminal seving time in prison. What do you expect in prison? She is not in a five star hotel.
If she doesnt behave like the rest of the priosners, she will be thrown in to a solitary confinment. What’s the big deal?
You just want to make noise on behalf of the FIDO. (the fools and idiots of diaapora opposition).

04/11/13 @ 13:13
Comment from: [Member]

So called CPJ now we all know u it is 21st century u can not fool people like 18th century. You better pack and leave Africa now. Bottom line no one cares what your propoganda is. We have wise and smart government in Ethiopia now and will take care of business .

04/11/13 @ 14:21
Comment from: Hewan [Visitor]

Joel Simon (cpj)
you forgot to cc to one person, to marshal general Berhanu Nega telbaw.

Addis Zemen - I like the the FIDO abbreviation.

04/11/13 @ 15:39
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

To the Agazi scavenger ,supposing laughing on CPJ ,by the way ridiculising himself .It’s been more than 2 years that Reayot and her patriotic bros are resisting heroically your blood sucker bandit masters .It’s not because by confining them in dark rooms they will physically and psychologically break them .Your looter masters with the Complicity of the Banda Isaac ,the Devil’s Pastor Daniel ,the opportunist Aderby Haile are ploting to make them signed the Stupid Document of Pardon. With the aim to save their face infront the International Tribunes specially their Western Donators .Even Obama’s Administration ,specially the UN Lady ,crying her dear Dead Friend ,could no longer do more for them .Reayot ,Eskinder ,Andwalem and the whole patriots actually held as hostages by the Terrorist Agazis and Tigre Mafiosis “SHALL BE SOON BE FREE ” .Under International Pressures ,Agazi Weslatotch have no more choice than “FREEING ” them soon .

04/11/13 @ 15:46
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

The TPLF Thug who is laughing on himself by calling Heroic Patriots as FIDO ,by the way what about you and your Thuggy Bros ASPC (Agazi Scavengers’ Parasite Community)…LOL!!!!

04/11/13 @ 15:59
Comment from: Heny [Visitor]

Mesfin B,
you fool and foolish, slogan did not take the Derg anywhere. If you any little ball left, try us in the battle field. fesam shimagle. eski sint amet mefekir asemah ezih? 21 amet? haha

04/11/13 @ 16:18
Comment from: Ras Thomas and Associates of Ethiopian Patriots [Visitor]
Ras Thomas and Associates of Ethiopian Patriots
1 stars

QUESTION. ??????????
Our question is following:

- Why this journalists were when the
Hailu Salesia and Mingistu were in
control of our country.
- Who gave them a freedom them to
became journalists who can write
whatever is true in fair way?
The answer so far we are receiving from people are followings:
- There were there in Ethiopia but there was no free journalists in our country at that times.
- The EPRDF gave them freedom to became jounalist to write freely, whatever is true.
So, the other question that is raising is:
Why they are in jail now?
The true answer they abused the freedom that they were given, by writing false information and working of enemy of our country
Ethiopia and its interests.

04/11/13 @ 17:32



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