Country of Origin Information Key Documents Ethiopia 10 August 2009 uk border Agency


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GDP (official exchange rate): US$25.08 billion (2008 est).

GDP growth rate: 8.5% (2008 est).

GDP per capita: US$800 (2008 est).

Inflation: 41% (2008 est).

Major industries: food processing, beverages, textiles, leather, chemicals, metals

processing, cement.

Major trading partners: Germany, Saudi Arabia, United States, Djibouti, China,

Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy (2007).

(CIA World Factbook, 16 June 2009) [1]

The US State Department Background Note on Ethiopia, dated June 2009, stated:

“The current government has embarked on a cautious program of economic reform, including privatization of state enterprises and rationalization of government regulation. While the process is still ongoing, so far the reforms have attracted only meager foreign investment, and the government remains heavily involved in the economy.
“The Ethiopian economy is based on agriculture, which contributes 46% to GNP and more than 80% of exports, and employs 85% of the population. The major agricultural export crop is coffee, providing approximately 35% of Ethiopia's foreign exchange earnings, down from 65% a decade ago because of the slump in coffee prices since the mid-1990s. Other traditional major agricultural exports are hides and skins, pulses, oilseeds, and the traditional ‘khat,’ a leafy shrub that has psychotropic qualities when chewed. Sugar and gold production has also become important in recent years.

“Ethiopia's agriculture is plagued by periodic drought, soil degradation caused by inappropriate agricultural practices and overgrazing, deforestation, high population density, undeveloped water resources, and poor transport infrastructure, making it difficult and expensive to get goods to market.…gold, marble, limestone, and small amounts of tantalum are mined in Ethiopia. Other resources with potential for commercial development include large potash deposits, natural gas, iron ore, and possibly oil and geothermal energy. Although Ethiopia has good hydroelectric resources, which power most of its manufacturing sector, it is totally dependent on imports for its oil.…[and is] dependent on a few vulnerable crops for its foreign exchange earnings and reliant on imported oil, Ethiopia lacks sufficient foreign exchange earnings. The financially conservative government has taken measures to solve this problem, including stringent import controls and sharply reduced subsidies on retail gasoline prices. Nevertheless, the largely subsistence economy is incapable of meeting the budget requirements for drought relief, an ambitious development plan, and indispensable imports such as oil. The gap has largely been covered through foreign assistance inflows.” [2c]

The World Bank Country Brief on Ethiopia (last updated April 2009) stated:

“In recent years, Ethiopia has been one of the fastest growing non-oil economies in Africa with double digit growth and continued improvement in poor households' access to basic services. But its robust growth performance and the considerable development gains from 2003 to 2007 are under threat because of the 2008 emergence of twin macroeconomic challenges of high domestic inflation and a difficult balance of payments situation. These challenges were made worse by high fuel and food prices. While these threats have moderated in recent months, substantial risks remain. The 12-month end-of-period inflation rate, after reaching a historical peak of 64% in July 2008, had fallen to 38% by January 2009. At the same time, foreign exchange reserves have risen from barely four week of imports cover in October 2008 (US$764m) to the equivalent of six weeks of imports in December 2008 (US$930m). The Government of Ethiopia has undertaken a number of actions (e.g., tightening fiscal policy and reducing government's domestic borrowing, mitigating the impact of high food prices on the poor, reducing the domestic borrowing of public enterprises, tightening money supply, and gradually depreciating the local currency) in recent months to address its macroeconomic problems.” [36]
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Human rights


The United States State Department 2008 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia, published on 25 February 2009, stated in its introductory section:

“Human rights abuses reported during the year [2008] included limitations on citizens' right to change their government in local and by-elections; unlawful killings, torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces, usually with impunity; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of suspected sympathizers or members of opposition or insurgent groups; police and judicial corruption; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; infringement on citizens' privacy rights including illegal searches; use of excessive force by security services in an internal conflict and counterinsurgency operations; restrictions on freedom of the press; arrest, detention, and harassment of journalists; restrictions on freedom of assembly and association; violence and societal discrimination against women and abuse of children; female genital mutilation (FGM); exploitation of children for economic and sexual purposes; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities and religious and ethnic minorities; and government interference in union activities, including harassment of union leaders.” [2a]

The Freedom in the World 2008 Report, covering events in 2007, published by Freedom House in July 2008, stated:

“In recent years, student strikes to protest [against] police brutality and various government policies have led to scores of deaths and injuries as well as hundreds of arrests. Student grievances include perceived government repression of the Oromo ethnic group. Many students were killed, injured, or arrested during protests against the May 2005 election results.
“Freedoms of assembly and association are limited. A number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are active, but they are generally reluctant to discuss issues and advocate policies that may bring them into conflict with the government. The authorities closely regulate NGO activities…the judiciary is officially independent, although there have been few significant examples of decisions at variance with government policy. The efficacy of police, judicial, and administrative systems at the local level is highly uneven. Some progress has been made in reducing a significant backlog of court cases. Human Rights Watch in 2006 reported that the government used intimidation, arbitrary detentions, and excessive force in rural areas in the wake of the 2005 election-related protests.
“The government has tended to favor Tigrayan ethnic interests in economic and political matters. Politics within the EPRDF have been dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Democratic Front. Discrimination against and repression of other groups, especially the Oromo, have been widespread.” [21a]

The Human Rights Watch 2009 World Report, published in January 2009, stated:

“The Ethiopian government's human rights record remains poor, marked by an ever-hardening intolerance towards meaningful political dissent or independent criticism. Ethiopian military forces have continued to commit war crimes and other serious abuses with impunity in the course of counterinsurgency campaigns in Ethiopia's eastern Somali Region and in neighboring Somalia.

“Local-level elections in April 2008 provided a stark illustration of the extent to which the government has successfully crippled organized opposition of any kind - the ruling party and its affiliates won more than 99 percent of all constituencies, and the vast majority of seats were uncontested. In 2008 the government launched a direct assault on civil society by introducing legislation that would criminalize most independent human rights work and subject NGOs to pervasive interference and control.
“The limited opening of political space that preceded Ethiopia's 2005 elections has been entirely reversed. Government opponents and ordinary citizens alike face repression that discourages and punishes free expression and political activity. Ethiopian government officials regularly subject government critics or perceived opponents to harassment, arrest, and even torture, often reflexively accusing them of membership in ‘anti-peace’ or ‘anti-people’ organizations. Farmers who criticize local leaders face threats of losing vital agricultural inputs such as fertilizer or the selective enforcement of debts owed to the state. The net result is that in most of Ethiopia, and especially in the rural areas where the overwhelming majority of the population lives, there is no organized opposition to the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
“The local-level elections in April 2008 were for kebele and wereda administrations, which provide essential government services and humanitarian assistance, and are often the institutions used to directly implement repressive government policies. In the vast majority of constituencies there were no opposition candidates at all, and candidates aligned with the EPRDF won more than 99 percent of all available seats.

“Where opposition candidates did contest they faced abuse and improper procedural obstacles to registration. Candidates in Ethiopia's Oromia region were detained, threatened with violence by local officials, and accused of affiliation to the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Oromia, Ethiopia's most populous region, has long suffered from heavy-handed government repression, with students, activists, or critics of rural administrations regularly accused of being OLF operatives. Such allegations often lead to arbitrary imprisonment and torture.

“Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) personnel stationed in Mogadishu continued in 2008 to use mortars, artillery, and ‘Katyusha’ rockets indiscriminately in response to insurgent attacks, devastating entire neighborhoods of the city. Insurgent attacks often originate in populated areas, prompting Ethiopian bombardment of civilian homes and public spaces, sometimes wiping out entire families. Many of these attacks constitute war crimes. In July ENDF forces bombarded part of the strategic town of Beletweyne after coming under attack by insurgent forces based there, displacing as many as 75,000 people.
“2008 was also marked by the proliferation of other violations of the laws of war by ENDF personnel in Somalia. Until late 2007, Ethiopian forces were reportedly reasonably disciplined and restrained in their day-to-day interactions with Somali civilians in Mogadishu. However, throughout 2008 ENDF forces in Mogadishu participated in widespread acts of murder, rape, assault, and looting targeting ordinary residents of the city, often alongside forces allied to the Somali Transitional Federal Government. In an April raid on a Mogadishu mosque ENDF soldiers reportedly killed 21 people; seven of the dead had their throats cut.
“ENDF forces have also increasingly fired indiscriminately on crowds of civilians when they come under attack. In August ENDF soldiers were hit by a roadside bomb near the town of Afgooye and responded by firing wildly; in the resulting bloodbath as many as 60 civilians were shot and killed, including the passengers of two crowded minibuses.

“In Ethiopia itself, the ENDF continues to wage a counterinsurgency campaign against the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in the country's restive Somali region. The scale and intensity of military operations seems to have declined from a peak in mid-2007, but arbitrary detentions, torture, and other abuses continue. Credible reports indicate that vital food aid to the drought-affected region has been diverted and misused as a weapon to starve out rebel-held areas. The military continues to severely restrict access to conflict-affected regions and the Ethiopian government has not reversed its decision to evict the International Committee of the Red Cross from the region in July 2007.

“The Ethiopian government denies all allegations of abuses by its military and refuses to facilitate independent investigations. There have been no serious efforts to investigate or ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in [the] Somali Region and in neighboring Somalia in 2007 and 2008. Nor have ENDF officers or civilian officials been held accountable for crimes against humanity that ENDF forces carried out against ethnic Anuak communities during a counterinsurgency campaign in Gambella region in late 2003 and 2004.” [6a]
In January 2009, Human Rights Watch published a report about a new law that had come into force that restricts the activities of NGOs. The report stated that:
“On January 6, 2009, Ethiopia's parliament enacted a new law on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that criminalizes most human rights work in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch said that the law is a direct rebuke to governments that assist Ethiopia and that had expressed concerns about the law's restrictions on freedom of association and expression.…the Ethiopian government claims that the new law, known as the Charities and Societies Proclamation (NGO law), is mainly intended to ensure greater openness and financial probity on the part of nongovernmental organizations. But instead it places such severe restrictions on all human rights and governance-related work as to make most such work impossible, violating fundamental rights to freedom of association and expression provided for in the Ethiopian constitution and international human rights law.

“The law considers any civil society group that receives more than 10 percent of its funding from abroad - even from Ethiopian citizens living outside of the country - to be ‘foreign.’ These groups are forbidden from doing any work that touches on human rights, governance, or a host of other issues. Because Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries, with few opportunities for domestic fundraising, such constraints are even more damaging than they would be elsewhere. Under the law, groups based outside the country, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, are barred from doing human rights-related work in Ethiopia.

“The law also creates a new government entity, the Charities and Societies Agency, with sweeping powers and an arsenal of onerous and byzantine requirements that will enable it to choke off independent civil society activity with red tape. The right to appeal is severely limited and is not extended to so-called ‘foreign’ groups at all. Human Rights Watch has produced a detailed analysis of a recent draft of this law. The enacted law is not substantially different from that draft.…Human Rights Watch said the law is especially alarming because the government already permits very little independent civil society activity or peaceful dissent. The country's preeminent human rights group, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), is almost alone in producing extensive reporting inside Ethiopia on human rights abuses. In response to its reporting of government repression following Ethiopia's 2005 national elections, many of its staff were forced to leave the country or spent time in prison. Under the new law, the group will be considered a foreign human rights group because it receives most of its funding from international donors such as the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. It will either have to abandon its work or do without the funding it needs to meet its costs and pay its staff.” [6b] 
The Amnesty International 2009 World Report, published in May 2009, stated:

“Restrictions on humanitarian assistance to the Somali Region (known as the Ogaden) continued [in 2008]. The government engaged in sporadic armed conflict against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and both forces perpetrated human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian troops fighting insurgents in Somalia in support of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Security forces arrested members of the Oromo ethnic group in Addis Ababa and in the Oromo Region towards the end of the year. Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest. A number of political prisoners were believed to remain in detention and opposition party leader Birtukan Mideksa, who was pardoned in 2007, was rearrested.” [11c] 

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Prison conditions
The United States State Department 2008 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia stated:
“The country has three federal prisons, 117 regional prisons, and many unofficial prisons. Prison and pretrial detention center conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Severe overcrowding was a problem. In September 2007 it was reported that there were 52,000 persons in prison. Earlier in the year, prison populations decreased by 10,000 due to pardons but reportedly again increased due to increases in ethnic conflict and economic crimes. Prisoners often had less than 22 square feet of sleeping space in a room that could contain up to 200 persons, and sleeping in rotations was not uncommon in regional prisons. The daily meal budget was approximately 5 birr (50 cents) per prisoner. Many prisoners supplemented this with daily food deliveries from family members or by purchasing food from local vendors. Prison conditions were unsanitary and there was no budget for prison maintenance. Medical care was unreliable in federal prisons and almost nonexistent in regional prisons.
“In detention centers, police often physically abused detainees. Authorities generally permitted visitors but sometimes arbitrarily denied them access to detainees. In some cases, family visits to political prisoners were restricted to a few per year.
“While statistics were unavailable, there were some deaths in prison due to illness and poor health care. Prison officials were not forthcoming with reports of such deaths. Several pardoned political prisoners had serious health problems in detention but received little treatment at the time.

“Authorities sometimes incarcerated juveniles with adults if they could not be accommodated at the juvenile remand home. Men and women prisoners were largely, but not always, segregated.” [2a] (section 1c)

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The death penalty
The Hands off Cain NGO, in its country status report on the death penalty, updated to 28 April 2009, stated that Ethiopia is one of the countries that retains the death penalty as a legal punishment. [9a]. According to the Ethiopian section of Hands off Cain “aggravated murder and crimes against the State or humanity are capital crimes.” In May 2005, the Penal Code was amended to make the act of deliberately infecting a person with HIV/AIDS by rape an offence with a maximum penalty of death. According to the constitution, persons sentenced to death can appeal to a higher court and petition for presidential clemency. The last known execution took place in 2007, and before that, the last known execution took place in 1998. [9b]. The Amnesty International report “Death Sentences and Executions in 2008”, published in March 2009, also stated that Ethiopia is one of the countries that retains the death penalty as a legal punishment. This report further stated that 39 death sentences were reported to have been passed in Ethiopia in 2008 although there were no reported executions in that year. [11a]
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Freedom of political association and assembly

The United States State Department 2008 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia stated:

“The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly; however, the government restricted this right. Organizers of large public meetings or demonstrations must notify the government 72 hours in advance and obtain a permit. The government issued permits to political parties to assemble in halls but has barred street demonstrations since 2005.

“Opposition political parties reported that during the year their supporters were targets of frequent and systematic harassment and violence by government security forces, particularly in the lead up to the local elections. Regional governments, including the Addis Ababa regional administration, are reluctant to grant permits or provide security for large meetings. For example, police refused to permit Unity for Democracy and Justice's (UDJ) general assembly to meet in a hotel in Addis Ababa, despite a letter from the NEB stating no license was needed.

“There were few attacks by police and militia against demonstrators since no public assembly permits were issued and illegal demonstrations were infrequent.

“…although the law provides for freedom of association and the right to engage in unrestricted peaceful political activity, the government in practice limited this right. Opposition parties reported receiving no government subsidies for their political activities despite laws providing for them. The MOJ technically registers and licenses NGOs, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) screens applications for international NGOs and submits a recommendation to the MOJ whether to approve or deny registration. The MFA recommended that some international NGOs' registration be denied absent a deposit of two million birr ($195,000), effectively preventing them from registering.

“As provided by law, the government required political parties to register with the NEB, which continued to limit political activity by the CUDP. For example, on January 3 [2008], the NEB awarded the CUDP name to a renegade member and the CUDP party symbol to another breakaway group, the United Ethiopian Democratic Party (UEDP)-Medhin, forcing the bulk of the CUDP's leaders to establish new parties.

“During the year the UEDF, UDJ, OFDM, and Oromo People's Congress (OPC) reported arrests of members and the forced closure of political party offices throughout the country and intimidation of landlords to force them to evict the political groups.”

[2a] (section 2b)
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Freedom of speech and the media

The United States State Department 2008 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia stated:

“While the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press, the government did not respect these rights in practice. The government continued to arrest, harass, and prosecute journalists, publishers, and editors. The government continued to control all broadcast media except three private FM radio stations. Private sector and government journalists routinely practiced self censorship.

“Government-controlled media mostly reflected the views of the government and the ruling EPRDF coalition. However, live radio and television broadcasts at times included televised parliamentary debates and broadcast the views of opposition parliamentarians, as did government newspapers.

“Although some new, small-circulation newspapers were published during the year, the number of private newspapers remained low. Approximately 20 private Amharic-language and English-language newspapers with political and business focuses were published, with a combined weekly circulation of more than 150,000.

“The government operated the sole television station and tightly controlled news broadcasts. The broadcasting law prohibits political and religious organizations or foreigners from owning broadcast stations.

“Foreign journalists and local stringers working for foreign publications at times published articles critical of the government but were subjected to government pressure to self-censor. During the year some reporters for foreign media were subjected to intimidation and harassment or threatened with expulsion from the country for publishing articles critical of the government.

“During the year [2008] the government convicted and sentenced journalists for articles and reports in their publications. Journalists were intimidated, harassed, arrested, and detained on charges of defamation, threatening public order, and contempt of court… on July 1 [2008], the parliament passed The Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, published in the official Negarit Gazette on December 4. The law prohibits pretrial detention of journalists and censorship of private media, and it recognizes the right of journalists to form professional associations. However, the law allows only incorporated companies to publish print media; requires all previously licensed press to reregister; bars foreign and crossmedia ownership; grants the government unlimited rights to prosecute the media; criminalizes defamation of public officials and increases defamation fines to 100,000 birr ($9,751); establishes "national security" as grounds for impounding materials prior to publication; provides government information officials exclusive discretion to withhold "sensitive" information without judicial review; and maintains the MOI's absolute authority to regulate the media.

”The Ministry of Information was dissolved on October 30 [2008]. Media reported that the government planned to replace the ministry with a new communications office that would be directly accountable to the prime minister. Although reports indicated the new entity would not be responsible for press licensing, that responsibility had not been reassigned by year's end.

“Regional governments censored the media during the year by prohibiting NGOs and health centers from providing information to, or allowing photography by, foreigners or journalists about malnutrition caused by the mid-year drought.

“The government indirectly censored the media by controlling licensing. In the first week of January, the Ministry of Information denied press licenses to Eskinder Nega, Serkalem Fasil, and Sisay Agena, the former editors of banned private newspapers Menelik, Asqual, Satenaw, Ethop, and Abay, who had been detained for 17 months after the 2005 elections and were pardoned and released in April 2007.

“On July 2 [2008], the same three publishers were fined a combined amount of 300,000 birr ($29,252) in connection with their papers' coverage of the 2005 elections. The court ordered them to appear before the First Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court in December if they failed to pay. They appeared in court on December 24 and delivered a written petition citing pardon law 395/2004, article 231/2, which stipulates that pardons granted to persons automatically pertain to monetary penalties against them. The court adjourned and is scheduled to reconvene in January 2009.

“During the year the government granted licenses to Dawit Kebede and Wosonseged Gebrekidan, two other journalists detained after the 2005 elections and released in August 2007, for two new Amharic-language weeklies, Awramba Times and Harambe.

“The government owned the only newspaper printing press.” [2a] (section 2a)

The Human Rights Watch 2009 World Report stated:

“A new media law passed in July [2008] promises to reform some of the most repressive aspects of the previous legal framework. Most notably, the law eliminates the practice of pretrial detention for journalists-although in August, the prominent editor of the Addis Ababa-based Reporter newspaper was imprisoned without charge for several days in connection with a story printed in the paper. In spite of its positive aspects, the law remains flawed - it grants the government significant leeway to restrain free speech, including by summarily impounding publications on grounds of national security or public order. The law also retains criminal penalties including prison terms for journalists found guilty of libel or defamation.

“In March 2008 civil society activists Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie were released from more than two years of incarceration, but only after the Ethiopian Federal High Court convicted them of "incitement" related to the 2005 elections.” [6a]

The Committee to Protect Journalists “Attacks on the Press 2008” report, published in February 2009, stated:
“The small vanguard of independent media that emerged from a brutal 2005 crackdown struggled in the face of continuing government harassment. Although authorities issued licenses allowing a handful of independent political newspapers to operate, they continued to use imprisonment, threats, and legal and administrative restrictions to suppress coverage of sensitive issues.

“…for much of the year [2008], commercial licenses were subject to the approval of the Ministry of Information, which wielded its authority arbitrarily. In an unexpected move in late October, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced the dissolution of the Ministry of Information. It was not immediately clear what structure would replace the ministry.

“In April [2008], the country held local council and parliamentary balloting - the first since the disputed 2005 elections that led to widespread protests and violence. Ethiopia’s splintering opposition boycotted the April elections to protest alleged intimidation, and the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, in power since 1991, swept seats across the board.

“Political coverage proved risky, particularly when it involved the exile-based Ginbot 7 movement. Named for the date in the Ethiopian calendar on which the tumultuous 2005 election took place, the movement, headed by opposition figure Berhanu Nega, calls for ‘all kinds and means of struggle’ to challenge the government.

“In August [2008], when Awramba Times reported Ginbot 7’s launch of a radio program broadcasting into Ethiopia via satellite and the Internet, the paper received phone warnings from police officials to stop any coverage of ‘anticonstitutional organizations.’

“The same month, publisher Kebede was questioned by police over a series of political stories in five separate issues of Awramba Times, including an editorial challenging the government’s assertion of high voter turnout in April’s general elections, and a column by the Ginbot 7 leader that compared Zenawi to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Harambe publisher Gebrekidan was also questioned over similar stories.

“Authorities escalated their crackdown on Awramba Times in November by suddenly activating an old case after the newspaper published the transcript of a radio interview of Ginbot 7 leader Nega discussing the U.S. presidential election and democracy in Ethiopia. A public prosecutor charged owner and Editor Dawit Kebede and Deputy Editor Wonderad Debretsion with ‘inciting the public through false rumors’ in connection with a March interview with opposition leader Yacob Hailemariam. Local journalists interpreted the timing of the charge as retaliation for publication of the Nega interview.

“…critical coverage of influential business interests also posed dangers. Journalists with the English- and Amharic-language weekly Reporter, including Managing Editor Amare Aregawi, received anonymous threats over a series of investigative reports alleging that people close to billionaire Sheik Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi had mismanaged his investments, according to local journalists. On October 31, three men attacked Aregawi as he was walking near his office, bashing his head with a stone and leaving him unconscious, witnesses told CPJ. Three men were arrested, and their cases were pending in late year.

“Aregawi, one of the country’s best-known journalists, also endured six days of imprisonment without charge in August in connection with a story about a labor dispute at a government-run brewery in the northern city of Gonder. His reporter, Teshome Niku, the author of the story, was briefly detained in June. Neither was formally charged.

“…the foreign press corps continued to operate under a strictly enforced regimen of renewable one-year residency and accreditation permits - a government tactic that discouraged critical reporting. An insurgent conflict in the Ogaden region, human rights violations, and the ongoing food crisis were among the stories that received little attention among the resident foreign press. Reacting to Aregawi’s arrest, a foreign journalist who asked to remain anonymous for fear of government reprisals wrote in an e-mail to CPJ, ‘I wish I could do something without risking expulsion.’

“The government actively targeted foreign-based media outlets. Beginning in January [2008], CPJ received reports that the broadcast signals of the U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA) and the German public Deutsche Welle were being jammed. Reacting to the reports, an Ethiopian Information Ministry spokesman, Zemedkun Tekle, told VOA that the allegations were ‘utterly baseless.’ ” [8]

The Amnesty International 2009 World Report, published on 28 May 2009, stated:

“Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest.

“At least 13 newspapers shut down by the government in 2005 were still closed. Independent journalists were reportedly denied licences to operate, although others did receive licences. Serkalem Fasil, Eskinder Nega and Sisay Agena, former publishers of Ethiopia’s largest circulation independent newspapers, who had been detained with CUD members, were denied licences to open two new newspapers.

“In February [2008] the Supreme Court upheld a decision to dissolve the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) and hand over its assets to a rival union formed by the government, also known as the Ethiopian Teachers Association. This action followed years of harassment and detention of union members. In December the union, under its new name, the National Teachers’ Association, had its application for registration as a professional organization rejected. 
“On World Press Freedom Day (3 May) Alemayehu Mahtemework, publisher of the monthly Enku, was detained and 10,000 copies of his publication impounded. He was released after five days without charge and copies of the magazine were later returned to him.
“In November [2008] a Federal High Court judge convicted editor-in-chief of the weekly Enbilta, Tsion Girma, of ’inciting the public through false rumours’ after a reporting mistake. She reportedly paid a fine and was released.” [11c]

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