Posts filed under ‘Leaders’
(Reuters) – Ethiopian police have arrested a minister and 11 other people on corruption charges, an official and state media said on Saturday, in the country’s most high-profile swoop against graft for more than a decade.
Businesses in the region regularly complain of corruption as an obstacle to their work. Transparency International ranked Ethiopia 113 out of 176 nations worldwide in its 2012 perception of corruption index, where No. 1 is considered least corrupt.
That ranking puts Ethiopia above most nations in the Horn of Africa and east Africa regions, although Rwanda is ranked 50.
Melaku Fenta, a senior ruling party member and director general of the revenue and customs authority with the rank of minister, was arrested on Friday alongside two other officials from the authority, government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said.
“They were under investigation on suspicion of corrupt practices,” Shimeles told Reuters, without giving details.
The spokesman said there were further arrests as well but did not give a total. The state news agency reported 12 arrests overall. Independently, newspapers said the arrests included a prominent businessman and customs employees outside the capital.
Global Financial Integrity last year said Addis Ababa lost $11.7 billion in outflows of illegal funds in the past decade.
Melaku is the most high profile suspect to be arrested on corruption charges since Siye Abraha, a former defense minister who was released in 2007 after six years behind bars. However, he was already out of government when arrested.
Melaku Fenta, director general of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA), Gebrewahed W. Giorgis, the most feared deputy of Melaku, and Eshetu W. Semayat, chief prosecutor of ERCA, were taken to custody by the Federal Police Commission around 5:00pm on Friday afternoon, May 10, 2013. They are three of the 16 suspects law enforcement agents apprehended, together with prominent businesspeople.
The Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission has announced that businesspeople such as Nega G. Egziyabher of Netsa Trading Plc; Ketema Kebede of K.K. Plc; Semachew Kebede of InterContinental Addis; and Mihereteab Abraha, brother of Seeye Abraha, are under custody suspected of crimes that is yet to be disclosed.
Other officials of ERCA include Asemelash W. Mariam, head of Kaliti Customs; Amignie Tagel, head of Nazareth Customs; and Tiruneh Berta, team leader of confiscated goods inspection have also been detained. Two transit company heads, Zerihun Zewdie and Marishet Tesfu, are among the suspects arrested late Friday.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Edmund Blair/Mark Heinrich)
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Delivering on Africa’s Promise will be the theme of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013 which will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, 8-10 May, with the participation of more than 1,000 leaders from business, government, civil society and academia.
The meeting, which convenes against a backdrop of significant economic growth and progress in reducing poverty in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, features a programme built around three pillars: Accelerating Economic Diversification; Boosting Strategic Infrastructure; and Unlocking Africa’s Talent.
Led by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and representatives from his government, other leaders that have confirmed their participation are: Benin, President Thomas Yayi Boni; Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn; Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta; Malawi, President Joyce Banda; Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; Seychelles, President James Alix Michel; Swaziland, King Mswati III; Tanzania, President Jakaya M. Kikwete; Togo, President Faure Gnassingbé; Uganda, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi; and Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Africa has an historic opportunity to take advantage of recent improvements in governance, as well as its massive youth bulge, to transform its economy and society. The World Economic Forum on Africa presents Africa’s leaders with a platform to build on these encouraging signs and work together to create innovative models, solutions and outcomes to tackle the region’s challenges and harness its great potential,” said Elsie Kanza, Director, Head of Africa, World Economic Forum.
In addition to a two-day public programme, there will also be a number of significant meetings on the fringes of the World Economic Forum on Africa. The Grow Africa Investment Forum, on 8-9 May, will attempt to build on its successes in 2012 by underscoring further commitment from both the public and private sectors. Another meeting is Shape Africa, organized by the Cape Town hub of the Global Shapers Community, a worldwide network of young leaders between the ages of 20 and 30, which takes place in the city on 6-7 May.
The Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum on Africa are Frans van Houten, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Management and the Executive Committee, Royal Philips Electronics, Netherland; Mo Ibrahim, Chairman, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, United Kingdom; Mustafa Vehbi Koç, Chairman of the Board, Koç Holding, Turkey; Frannie Léautier, Executive Secretary, The African Capacity Building Foundation, Zimbabwe; and Arif M. Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive, Abraaj Group, United Arab Emirates.
Addis Ababa – An Ethiopian court on Thursday dismissed the appeal of blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage who were jailed last year for terror-related offences.
“The sentencing is still correct so there is no reduction,” said Supreme Court judge Dagne Melaku, confirming Eskinder’s jail term of 18 years and Andualem’s life sentence.
One of the charges – serving as a leader of a terrorist organisation – was dropped, but had no effect on sentencing.
After the ruling, Eskinder made an emotional appeal to the court which was crowded with family, friends and diplomats.
“The truth will set us free,” he said. “We want the Ethiopian public to know that the truth will reveal itself, it’s only a matter of time.”
Both men are accused of links to the outlawed opposition group Ginbot 7.
“The walls of justice will be demolished,” Andualem told AFP.
Four other men also jailed for terror-related charges had their appeal quashed.
One other defendant, however, Kinfe Michael, had his sentence reduced from 25 years to 16 years.
Rights groups have called Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation vague and accuse the government of using the law to stifle peaceful dissent.
“I am very sad, I am very angry, I cannot talk rationally,” Eskinder’s wife Serkalem Fasil told AFP after the decision.
Defence lawyer Abebe Guta said that justice had not been served, and that if his clients agreed, they would appeal to the court of cassation, Ethiopia’s highest court.
The US was “deeply disappointed” that Ethiopia’s federal supreme court upheld the men’s “conviction and harsh sentencing,” acting deputy State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said.
“Today’s decision further reinforces our serious concern about Ethiopia’s politicised prosecution of those critical of the government and ruling party, including under the anti-terrorism proclamation.”
He did not say if the court’s decision would impact a planned trip to Ethiopia by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the end of May.
Ethiopia has one of the most restricted media in the world and the highest number of journalists living in exile, according to US-based press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Last year Eskinder was awarded the prestigious PEN America’s “Freedom to Write” annual prize.
Justice is supposed to be blind. Judges aren’t supposed to be when it comes to justice. When one thinks of court, one thinks of justice. The famous picture of the lady with the blindfold covering one eye – but that blind fold is starting to look more like an eye patch on a pirate, as many Ethiopians and foreigners as well are being robbed of their day in court. There are good judges out there, but sadly there are quite a few bad ones like Judge Dagne Melaku.
His conduct, among others, is the subject of a forthcoming Sonustar film titled “Justice and Truth.” Thanks to this dirty judge, I got to see firsthand, the sweeping corruption present in the Ethiopian judicial system that in my opinion is the most corrupt in the world.
Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned the initial conviction of Eskinder in July 2012.
By Martha van der Wolf
ADDIS ABABA — The United Nations Development Program has released its 2013 Human Development Index. Despite recent economic growth, Ethiopia is still near the bottom of the index.
Ethiopia ranks 173 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index 2013, unveiled by the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, on Friday.
The Index is part of the Human Development Report that is presented annually and measures life expectancy, income and education in countries around the world.
Since 2000, Ethiopia has registered greater gains than all but two other countries in the world – Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. But it still ranks close to the bottom of the Index.
However, Samuel Bwalya, an economic advisor for UNDP, says that not only the ranking is important.
“I think what matters in the index is how you’re moving, your own human development progress within the country, so you’re moving from 0.275 to 0.378, that movement is what matters,” said Bwalya. “It means that your country is making progress in human development. Now the ranking depends on how other countries are also faring.”
This year’s Human Development Report focuses on the major gains made since 2000 in most countries in the global South.
UNDP believes sub-Saharan Africa can achieve higher levels of human development if it deepens its engagement with other regions of the South.
But those countries must overcome many challenges, such as low life expectancy, high levels of inequality and the growing threat for environmental disasters that could halt or reverse the recent gains in human development.
Bwalya says that government policies are central to human development in Ethiopia:
“The most important is to continuously commit to two policy arenas: the economic program in the country is robust and the government should have continuous commitment to development,” he explained. “The second is that it should continue the social protection program that has been so important in reducing poverty.”
While the Human Development Report and Index celebrate improvements across the developing world, a hard fact remains – 24 out of the 25 lowest ranked countries are on the African continent.
By Marthe Van Der Wolf
ADDIS ABABA — A group of 150 Ethiopian doctors living abroad are constructing a hospital in their home country that will offer state-of-the-art medical treatment. This new hospital is designed to reduce the number of Ethiopians seeking medical facilities abroad.
The Ethio-American Doctors Group, an association of more than150 Ethiopian doctors in the diaspora, is realizing its dream: establishing an up-to-date hospital in their homeland that includes a medical school and a medical research center.
Dr. Yonas Legessa Cherinet of the Doctors Group said the new hospital will feature 27 medical specialties that currently are not offered in Ethiopia.
“There are a varieties of fields where service is very limited here. I could mention vascular surgery, urology, pulmonology, neuro-surgery and reproductive endocrinology, which is not available. So many doctors are coming in with so many specialities, there will be a core group of these specialists who will be coming here to lead some departments, to work here,” said Yonas.
The Doctors Group hopes that fewer Ethiopians will go abroad for medical help if they can be treated inside the country.
Currently, many Ethiopians that can afford better treatment go to Asia, the Middle East and South Africa. The Bangkok Hospital in Thailand treated more than 6,000 Ethiopians in 2011 alone. A lot of money is involved, as the average treatment costs about $20,000.
Dr. Zelelam Abebe, who works in a private clinic in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, said there is a large need for first-class medical services in the country.
“I had to refer several people to hospitals abroad for different cardiac surgeries, brain surgery and advanced cancer cases,” he said.
Dr. Yonas said that providing for Ethiopians who might otherwise go abroad means the hospital will have to be run differently – and better – compared to most other facilities in the country.
“The reasons they mention [for going abroad] vary from the quality of care to the way they are treated in respect. So we want to bring a new culture here of medical care, which will be patient-centered,” said Yonas.
But with an average yearly income of $1,200, most Ethiopians will not be able to afford the treatments offered at the new facility. Yonas said money will be raised for those in financial need.
”We also have what we call the EDG fund, which will be taking 10 percent of our profit for people who cannot afford quality service,” he said.
Tariku Assefa is a general practicing doctor who works at the Black Lion Hospital, the largest hospital in Ethiopia, which also includes a medical school. He welcomes the idea of the new hospital, but hopes the new research facility will focus on diseases prevalent in Ethiopia.
“We use most of the research that were done in the western countries. We take example from America or other western countries because those research is done there. In most of the disease entity we don’t have our own figures, we use the figures of other people, which is somehow biased because the one which is in the West may not work for us,” said Tariku.
The hospital is scheduled to open its doors by 2016 and employ 300 to 400 people, of whom 50 will be physicians. Some doctors from the diaspora will return to Ethiopia, while others will commit several weeks per year to an exchange of knowledge with the hospital.
Which way to the mausoleum?
DURING his two decades running Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi almost single-handedly engineered its rise from lost cause to model pupil. Even his enemies admit he was both popular and competent. Often working around the clock, he could make complex policy choices and then explain them to ordinary people. He planned meticulously for everything—from road building to oppressing the opposition—except, that is, for his own demise.
It came six months ago on August 20th, following illness at the age of 57, and left the state reeling. Meles, as he is known, had grabbed so much power that many feared his death would spark political chaos and an economic downturn. He alone had the trust of the soldiers, the financiers, the Ethiopian people and the West.
But the transition to a new prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has gone smoothly. The streets of Addis Ababa, the capital, have seen no unrest and the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) suffered no defections. A few audible grumbles were swiftly silenced. Rioting Muslims were beaten back. A minister was fired as were four regional officials in events that may or may not be related to the leadership change. Jockeying among the elite has been kept behind firmly closed doors. In public it espouses business as usual.
Instead of chaos, an eerie calm now hangs over the country. The old guard that once surrounded Meles, who hailed from the northern region of Tigray, remains in power. Winners of a 1980s civil war that toppled the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, the Tigrayans have held on to top security jobs. Meles’s widow, Azeb Mesfin, who for a few months refused to move out of the prime ministerial palace, still controls a state-affiliated conglomerate, EFFORT. The number of Tigrayans in the cabinet has shrunk but key posts remain in the hands of ageing loyalists, many of whom fought alongside Meles. Talk of “generational change” over the past few years was seemingly a charade.
One of the few exceptions is the relatively young prime minister, Mr Desalegn. The 47-year-old is an articulate and experienced administrator as well as a former water engineer who studied in Finland. But he lacks his predecessor’s charisma and shrewd policy instincts. Though a former deputy prime minister (and former foreign minister) he is not an insider. He is a Protestant in a predominantly Orthodox Christian nation (his first name means “the power of Mary”). He is also an ethnic Wolaytan in a government dominated by Tigrayans. Meles, his mentor, may have chosen him for that reason, either to weaken ethnic divisions or perhaps to guarantee that ultimate power remains with his northern brothers-in-arms.
As the new chairman of the EPRDF, Mr Desalegn may eventually attain sufficient control to reshape the ruling party, but only if he survives long enough. For the moment he seems to have little room to manoeuvre, lacking his own power base in the security forces. He has publicly pledged to continue his predecessor’s work “without any changes”.
Those who know him say he is more comfortable with capitalism than many of the leftists around him. He was never a Marxist, but nor does he have an alternative vision for the country. Few Ethiopians know his name, though he does well internationally; he was recently elected chairman of the African Union. “We want him to be a leader not a follower,” says a progressive Ethiopian who occasionally meets him, but doubts his authority.
In his first six months in power, the prime minister has announced few new policies. Reform efforts are frozen. Economic liberalisation has been postponed at least until after elections in 2015. Party leaders seem unsure how to survive without Meles. They govern on autopilot, following the blueprints he left behind. Conformity of thought is common and new ideas are seemingly unwelcome.
Meles was so central to the Ethiopian state that his followers are trying to keep him alive with a Mao-style cult of personality. Even months after his death, Addis Ababa is still plastered with bereavement posters. They cover entire sides of buildings and run for hundreds of metres along fences. Banners declare “we will continue your work” and “we will never forget you”. The body of the former prime minister is buried under a tall granite arch next to Holy Trinity Cathedral where Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian emperor, is entombed. New propaganda tracts depict Meles as a selfless leader who sacrificed his life for his country. His party is trying to wring as much legitimacy as possible from his legacy. It may be too early to speak of a post-Meles era—even in death he is the country’s most visible politician.
The future could yet be difficult. Without the former prime minister’s zeal, authority and attention to detail, the system he created could founder. Vested interests once kept at bay may reassert themselves. Reform projects could not just stall but break down irreparably. The fight against corruption and for economic progress will slow. Officialdom is already adrift, unsure of which way to turn. Only when the grizzled Tigrayan bosses at last step down might a new generation of leaders return to the ambitious experimentation that was an essential ingredient in Meles’s success. A move to genuine democracy, which he talked about but never dared to try, remains far off.
Ethiopia’s leaders are confused. They hail Meles as their country’s uniquely brilliant leader but act as if they can govern just as he did.
From the print edition: Middle East and Africa
Armed Eritrean mutineers have left the information ministry that they seized on Monday, with the capital Asmara reported to be calm, diplomats and opposition members said Tuesday.
“The situation today is very, very quiet. There is no visible military presence in the city, the tanks have gone,” a European diplomat in the city told Agence France Presse.
“The information ministry is back to business as usual,” the diplomat added, noting that Asmara was back “to normal”, with banks and public buildings open.
Opposition website Awate.com, based in the United States but with close connections inside Eritrea, said that the commander of around 100 rebel soldiers had agreed to leave the ministry, something believed to have happened late Monday.
“The face-off was ‘solved’ when the government ‘accepted his terms’,” Awate said, although there were no further details as to what will happen next.
“All is calm today, as it was indeed yesterday,” read a message from Yemane Gebremeskel, the director of Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki’s office, although officials have otherwise remained tight-lipped over the events.
It was not possible to confirm the reports independently.
Amanuel Ghirmai, an Eritrean journalist in Paris for independent Radio Erena, said the army mutineers stormed the hill-top ministry — which towers over the capital of the Red Sea state — early on Monday morning.
They reportedly ordered news readers at the government-run television and radio station — the only source of media for the authoritarian state — to read a statement that they would implement the country’s constitution enacting democratic principles and stopping arbitrary arrests.
The constitution was suspended during the 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia.
The statement also reportedly ordered the release of prisoners of conscience.
While the state-run Eri-TV television and radio broadcasts were taken off air Monday, several sources said they had resumed broadcasting by Tuesday.
“Eri-TV, under regime loyalists, has resumed broadcasting live,” Awate said. “All Ministry of Information employees have been released.”
Multiple sources reported that one of those held inside the information ministry was the daughter of President Issaias, who has ruled the Horn of Africa nation with an iron grip from independence in 1993, following an epic 30-year liberation war from neighboring Ethiopia.
The European diplomat said all information ministry workers had been released, but that there had been “no official information” on the events, nor was there yet any clear sense of who the mutineers were.
Multiple rumors have swirled on social media, with officials dismissing the majority.
“I don’t want to dignify nonsense and garbage reports,” Eritrea’s ambassador to the African Union, Girma Asmerom, told AFP on Tuesday as he refused to comment.
Awate claimed the mutineers were led by an army commander called Saleh Osman, a hero of the 1998-2000 border war, when he refused orders to abandon the key southern port of Assab, defending it and beating back invading Ethiopians.
“The ‘uprising’ appears to have been a case of Saleh Osman trying to jolt back negotiations for democratization he had been having with the president’s office that have stalled,” Awate added.
Britain’s foreign office said Monday it had received reports of “unusual military movements in and around” the capital, while the U.S. Embassy in Eritrea said Monday it had “been made aware of increased military presence” in parts of Asmara.
Impoverished Eritrea even falls below North Korea on the Press Freedom Index of the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, ranking last out of 179 countries.
All independent media were shut down after Issaias launched a draconian purge in 2001, while Eritrea expelled the last registered foreign correspondent in 2010.
Opposition parties are banned and those who challenge the regime are jailed without trial, often in the harshest of conditions.
After 15 top officials wrote an open letter in 2001 calling for democratic reforms — dubbed the Group of 15, or G-15 — Issaias launched a brutal political purge, jailing 11 and with the others fleeing into exile.
It left Eritrea effectively under the control of the army, usually veterans of the decades-long independence war with Ethiopia, with government ministers mostly sidelined from the seat of real power.
Religious minorities are also persecuted in Eritrea, which is officially split equally between Muslims and Christians.
By Aaron Maasho
The renegade soldiers had not gone as far as to call for the overthrow of the government of one of Africa’s most secretive states, long at odds with the United States and accused of human rights abuses.
Eritrea has been led by Isaias Afewerki, 66, for some two decades since it broke from bigger neighbor Ethiopia.
Soldiers had forced the director general of state television “to say the Eritrean government should release all political prisoners,” the Eritrean intelligence source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
There was no immediate statement from the Asmara government.
Accusing Eritrea of torture and summary executions last year, the United Nations human rights chief estimated that 5,000-10,000 political prisoners were being held in the country of about 6 million people.
State media went off air after the call for prisoners to be freed, the intelligence official and diplomats in the region said. One Western diplomat in neighboring Ethiopia said other buildings might have been seized by soldiers too.
The gold-producing state, on a strategic strip of mountainous land along the Red Sea coast, is one of the most opaque countries on the continent and restricts access to foreign reporters.
Eritrean opposition activists exiled in neighboring Ethiopia said there was growing dissent within the Eritrean military, especially over economic hardship.
Despite its relatively small population, Eritrea has Africa’s second biggest army.
“Economic issues have worsened and have worsened relations between the government and soldiers in the past few weeks and months,” one activist told Reuters.
Eritrea broke from Ethiopia in 1991. The two countries fought a 1998-2000 war over a border which remains disputed. Relations between them are perennially strained, with Eritrea denying accusations it backs Ethiopian insurgents.
The United Nations’ Security Council imposed an embargo on Eritrea in 2009 over concerns its government was funding and arming al Shabaab rebels in neighboring Somalia – charges Asmara denied.
Diplomatic sources told Reuters Isaias survived an assassination attempt by a disgruntled soldier in 2009.
Eritrea moved to quash speculation last year that Isaias was sick. It showed television pictures of him lambasting the United States for spreading lies about his condition. He has no obvious successor.
Asmara has accused the United States of working behind the scenes to topple Isaias. A U.S. diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks described him in 2009 as an “unhinged dictator”.
Gold companies with mines or projects in Eritrea include Sunridge Gold Corp, Nevsun Resources Ltd and Chalice Gold.
(New York) – Four Ethiopian journalists have received the prestigious Hellman/Hammett award for 2012 in recognition of their efforts to promote free expression in Ethiopia, one of the world’s most restricted media environments.
Eskinder Nega Fenta, an independent journalist and blogger; Reeyot Alemu Gobebo of the disbanded weekly newspaper Feteh; Woubshet Taye Abebe of the now-closed weekly newspaper Awramba Times; and Mesfin Negash of Addis Neger Online were among a diverse group of 41 writers and journalists from 19 countries to receive the award in 2012. Eskinder, Reeyot, and Woubshet are imprisoned in Ethiopia; Mesfin fled in 2009. All four journalists were convicted in 2012 under Ethiopia’s draconian anti-terrorism law.
“The four jailed and exiled journalists exemplify the courage and dire situation of independent journalism in Ethiopia today,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Their ordeals illustrate the price of speaking freely in a country where free speech is no longer tolerated.”
The Hellman/Hammett grants, administered by Human Rights Watch, are awarded annually to writers and journalists around the world who have been targets of political persecution and human rights abuses. The prize is named after two American writers who were harassed during the 1950s anti-communism investigations. Lillian Hellman suffered professionally and had trouble finding work while Dashiell Hammett spent time in prison. A distinguished selection committee awards the grants to honor and support journalists whose work, activities, and lives are suppressed by repressive government action.
The journalistic work and liberty of the four Ethiopian award-winners has been suppressed by the Ethiopian government in its efforts to restrict free speech and peaceful dissent, clamp down on independent media, and limit access to and use of the internet. They represent a much larger group of journalists in Ethiopia forced to self-censor, face prosecution, or flee the country, Human Rights Watch said.
Eleven Ethiopian and foreign journalists have been charged and sentenced under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law in 2012. Critical blogs and internet pages are regularly blocked. The Ethiopian parliament passed a new telecommunications law in 2012, further controlling internet usage, just weeks after the biggest state printer, Birhanena Selam,issued a new contract for its publishers stipulating that it could censor the content of any publication it deems to violate the law. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the third-largest number of journalists forced to flee their countries since 1992 has been from Ethiopia, after Somalia and Iran.
Like many other journalists in Ethiopia, the four award-winners have suffered greatly, both personally and professionally, in following their profession and exercising their right to free speech, Human Rights Watch said.
On July 13, after nine months in detention, Eskinder Nega, a veteran Ethiopian journalist and the foremost critic from the media of the ruling Ethiopian government, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, as well as participation in a terrorist organization and treason. His case is under appeal. He has been jailed numerous times. Eskinder and his wife, the fellow journalist and newspaper publisher Serkalem Fasil,were arrested, detained for more than one year, and charged with treason following the contested 2005 elections. They were acquitted of all charges in April 2007. Since his release, Eskinder has faced ongoing harassment, surveillance, and intimidation. The authorities denied him a publishing license. In February 2011 he was once again briefly detained. Despite the ongoing harassment, he refused to leave Ethiopia and continued to write and speak out until he was again imprisoned.
Woubshet Tayewas the deputy editor of the Awramba Times prior to his arrest on June 19, 2011. He was convicted, along with Reeyot Alemu, on three counts of terrorism in January 2012. Woubshet alleged in court that he had been tortured during his pretrial detention, but the complaint was never investigated by the court. His arrest was not the first threat he faced as a result of his work. In 2010, prior to the general elections, an official from the government’s media licensing office accused him of “intentionally inciting and misguiding the public.” Woubshet was also briefly detained following the 2005 elections.
Reeyot Alemu was an English teacher and a columnist with one of the last remaining independent papers, Feteh. Reeyot was arrested on June 21, 2011, and convicted on January 19, 2012, on three counts of terrorism. In August, an appeals court reduced her sentence from 14 to 5 years, maintaining one of the terrorism charges against her.
Mesfin Negash works for Addis Neger Onlinewebsite, which he established along with other colleagues after fleeing the country in 2009. Mesfin was convicted in absentia in the same trial as Eskinderunder the anti-terrorism law’s article on support for terrorism, which contains a vague prohibition on “moral support.”Mesfin was one of the editors of the now-defunct popular analytical Addis Neger newspaper, but was forced to close the paper and go into exile in November 2009, with most of the paper’s senior staff, after the authorities threatened him.
Source: Human Rights Watch
Egypt’s highest body of judges has called President Mohamed Morsi’s recent decrees of authority “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary, and judges in Alexandria have gone on strike in protest.
Members of the judges’ group, the Supreme Judicial Council, made their statement Saturday after an emergency meeting. Alexandria judges announced they will halt their work until the decree is withdrawn.
President Morsi on Thursday declared that his decisions are protected from judicial review, sparking outrage and protests in the streets of major cities.
Demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square continued into Saturday, spurring Egyptian security forces to fire tear gas at protesters, many of whom spent the night in the iconic protest hub.
On Friday, protesters in several Egyptian cities attacked the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood party, as rival pro- and anti-government groups demonstrated in Cairo about the new presidential decree. In the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Alexandria, crowds lobbed stones and explosives at Muslim Brotherhood offices.
The protests came a day after President Morsi put himself above oversight and declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority.
In a speech to supporters Friday at the presidential palace, Mr. Morsi said he wants to move Egypt forward as a stable and safe nation and does not want sole control of the country.
Mr. Morsi’s decree also bars Egypt’s judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution – two bodies dominated by Mr. Morsi’s Islamist allies.
In addition, Mr. Morsi has ordered retrials of former officials who used violence in efforts to suppress last year’s popular revolution against longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
President Morsi’s action follows international praise he received for mediating a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza..