There are about eight journalists and media related associations in Ethiopia. None of them, however, have been heard speaking out for either jailed or exiled journalists. Ethiopia is one of the highest jailor of journalists (CPJ, names it 2nd where as Addis Standard, a local media, named it 3rd in its December issue). According to Article 19, twelve Ethiopian journalists are prosecuted in “relation to terrorism”. On the other hand, one of the famous “journalists association” – Ethiopian National Journalists Union (ENJU – IFJ member) president, Anteneh Abrham told Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency that he feels proud that Ethiopia hasn’t jailed any journalist for what s/he has written.
|The Press Release (Amharic)|
It is in this time of despair a committee of eight independent journalists initiated a formation of a new “Ethiopian Journalists Forum (EJF)”. The committee called for ‘founding meeting’ today, Dec 12/2013 at Ethiopian Hotel where more than 20 journalists attended.
The committee, in its presser, mentioned that ‘the Forum under-formation will independently work to support and upgrade the professionalism of journalists in particular and the media in general’. It also added that its goals include working:
- for the respect of Freedom of Expression granted in the FDRE constitution article 30;
- for the benefit of journalists;
- for promoting professional excellence of journalists through trainings;
- for strengthening the relationship/communication among journalists;
- for facilitation of financial, material and legal support whenever needed;
- for recognizing journalists who are contributing positively to the sector;
The committee, in its response to questions raised by attendants of the meeting expressed that it recognizes the challenge (jailing and exiling) of journalists and the ‘Forum’ aims to elevate it – and this has been mentioned as a major point that distinguishes the new ‘Forum’ from other existing ‘Journalists Associations’.
Before the conclusion of the meeting, Journalist Ayalew Asres (from the now defunct Negadras newspaper) gave the following comments so that the committee should consider before it calls for general assembly:
- The term ‘Forum’ might be confusing with a political coalition that is referred by the same term - Forum;
- The committee should not be called ‘founding’ but ‘coordinating’ as it is working to coordinate;
- Working for the respect of ‘Freedom of Expression’ should not be the role of the ‘Forum’ rather practicing it;
With this, the committee concluded the meeting inviting journalists, bloggers and other stakeholders to join the effort to establish the ‘Forum’ officially as soon as possible.