EU ‘seriously concerned’ about press rights in Ethiopia

The EU on Saturday demanded an investigation into the killing of an Ethiopian journalist early this month and expressed “serious concern” over the expulsion from the country on Friday of Simon Marks, a reporter who had worked for the New York Times, POLITICO, and other outlets.

“The EU is seriously concerned about the shrinking space for freedom of the media and harrassment, arrests as well as restrictions imposed on Ethiopian and international journalists in Ethiopia,” an EU spokesperson said, in a statement.

“The recent news about the killing of one journalist from the Oromia Broadcasting Network is completely unacceptable and the case must be thoroughly investigated,” the statement said, adding: “The expulsion from the country this week of a journalist from The New York Times is also a matter of serious concern.”

Sisay Fida, the reporter for Oromia Broadcasting Network, was shot dead by unidentified attackers in the town of Dembi Dollo in the western part of the country, on May 9. The motive of the killing is still unknown. The television channel is controlled by the regional government. Oromia is the home region of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Abiy served on the network’s board of directors before taking office.

Marks, who had reported on atrocities committed by the Ethiopian military and its allies in the Tigray region, where a civil war has raged for months, was deported from Ethiopia in the early hours of Friday morning. His press accreditation had been rescinded in March and an appeal was recently denied, though his residence permit in the country was valid until October.

“The European Union will continue to stand up for the role of independent and reliable media all around the world,” the EU’s statement said. “We are committed, in compliance with international human rights law, to safeguarding media freedom and pluralism, as well as protecting the right to freedom of expression online and offline, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference. Freedom of the press is an essential right and as such must be respected.”



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