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EPRDF takes lion share of advertising space in public media

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The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has released schedule of how the different political parties contesting the May 21 elections will share public broadcast air time and advertising space for newspapers. Evidently, most of the airtime and space is being taken up by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

According to the distribution announced by NEBE, forty percent of the media coverage is assigned according to the number of seats political parties have in Parliament and Regional Councils. Forty percent is given to the parties which have candidates in the election. Ten percent goes to parties who have female candidates while the other ten percent is shared by all political parties equally.  Candidates and parties contesting at the federal level will share slots of the national media and the regional contestants will share their respective region's media.

 During 2010 elections, out of the allocated broadcast air time and newspapers spaces, 55 percent was given to the parties that have representation in parliament and regional councils, 20 percent for all candidates and 25 percent was shared to all political parties. It seems the allocations this year have considered a new category of women representation, though the distribution criterion is still not fair especially to the opposition parties.

During any election, the public media provides an invaluable channel of information between the contestants and the public. By providing an arena for public debate and informing citizens of the policies and platforms of candidates and parties, the media enable voters to make an informed decision when they cast their ballots. The importance of this last point cannot be overstated, as the ability of voters to make an informed choice is one of the key aspects of a democratic election.That is why giving equal access to the use of public media by any political party contesting the election is of paramount importance.

The Ethiopian media share seems estrange. Why?

When we look at the statistics itself, it shows how the calculation for airtime and newspaper space is biased. The ruling EPRDF in has majority seats in the House of Representatives and in the Regional Council. This means the EPRDF will enjoy all the forty percent allocated air time and the newspaper spaces, both in the federal and regional level.

In the forty percent share that is allocated to the number of candidates in the election, chances are high for the ruling party to take most of the percentage allocated since the opposition parties do not have enough funds and capacity to nominate candidates in each polling station.

The mass media is the most common source of information about election campaigns in democracies and societies in transition around the world. In addition to reporting on the performance of incumbents, providing a platform for debates among candidates, allowing candidates to communicate their message to the electorate, and reporting on campaign developments, the media should inform voters on how to exercise their rights, monitor the electoral process, including election-day proceedings, and report the results to the public.

These objectives will only be achieved when all the political parties are given equal chances to communicate their messages to the voters.

In a country like Ethiopia, where there are no many media outlets and Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) which is the state media, is the only way to communicate large number of voters, it would be better if all the political parties are given equal chances to disseminate their messages.

 

Otherwise, it will be difficult to say the voters have been given enough information about the agendas of the parties as well as the candidates. Again, it will be difficult to say voters have the confidence in the government they are going to see after the election.

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Blue party gains from NEBE’s decision on UDJ

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The government’s systematic action to weaken relatively the most popular opposition, Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) has brought a new fortune to the young opposition Blue party as most of UDJ members defected to the party. The former UDJ’s speaker Abebe Akalu, on February 3, 2015 joined Blue party and called on other members of the party to follow their footsteps. “UDJ members strongly believe in peaceful struggle even while their party is being ‘hijacked’. In order to continue the peaceful struggle Blue party is the best alternative since it has no major policy difference with UDJ”, Abebe said. Their defection followed the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s (NEBE) decision to revokes the mandate of the popular former UDJ’s leadership on January 29, 2015.

Blue party’s Chairman Yilqal Getnet admitted UDJ have wide membership throughout the country which will help strengthen his party.  ‘The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the Electoral Board has helped UDJ and Blue party to be united’ ironically said Yilqal. Following their defection, the Blue party aims to have about 400 candidates through the country. However, the party is complaining its candidates are deliberately being refused registration as candidates in some parts of the country.

NEBE and UDJ’s leadership issues

NEBE officially dismissed UDJ’s former popular leadership led by Belay Befekadu and recognized another group as the party’s official led by Tigestu Awelu. NEBE claimed that UDJ deliberately changed its internal rules in order to give power to the National Council to elect Chairman of the party which was the prerogative of the General Assembly. The board further argued this violated UDJ’s rules and regulations. NEBE also accused Belay’s leadership of not reporting its activities to the General Assembly.  It also demanded prior notice on the changed internal rules, and reports of General assembly and national council meetings that had not been submitted by the party at all, according to NEBE.

Belay’s leadership considers NEBE’s decision as a systematic and deliberate action to weaken the party and further destroy it as it seeks to compete for more than 400 seats of the 547 parliamentary seats. He also claims the ruling EPRDF uses the Election Board to frustrate UDJ through giving unfair decisions which are not applied to other parties.

The Blue party used to be criticized of being dominated by the youth, and having no strong structures especially in Ethiopia’s suburbs and rural areas. However, the massive defection of UDJ members to the Blue party might change these circumstances as UDJ had relatively wide membership and structures. Ironically, Blue party was established by former UDJ members who defected from the party in December 2011 claiming principles were being compromised by party leaders.

 

 

 

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National Electoral Board of Ethiopia faces difficult time with opposition parties as election nears

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Ethiopia’s main opposition parties are having a tumultuous relationship with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in the run up to the 24 May 2015 general elections. This has led to some of the opposition parties saying they will not take part in the vote, citing unfair playing ground.

On January 6, 2015 NEBE wrote a letter to Blue party, demanding an apology for engaging on ‘unconstructive behavior’ since the day of its establishment. In a letter sent back to the board on January 12, 2015, the Blue party rejected NEBE’s demand for apology calling it ‘illegal’, and further to accuse the Board of ‘intentionally accusing’ the party. Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) and All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) have received various warnings at different times from NEBE, asking them to fix their internal ‘problems.’

However, UDJ and AEUP have accused the Board of interfering in their respective internal matters and working to exclude them from the upcoming national election. AEUP was particularly unhappy with NEBE’s recent call for the party to conduct a third general members meeting to fix alleged internal problems, with the Party’s President Mamushet Amare saying NEBE had a mission “to exclude AEUP from the election.” UDJ’s public relations head Asrat Tase has also accused ‘NEBE of having a mission to destroy’ his party.

It is not only alleged interference with internal matters that the opposition parties have a grudge to pick with NEBE. They have termed the public observers’ election process as ‘unfair,’ having taken place without their proper observation “due to NEBE’s “‘deliberate’ action to favor the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Force (EPRDF).”

The  public observers’ election took place on December 21, 2014 and a day after, the nine opposition parties’ partnership that includes Blue party and AEUP, accused the ruling EPRDF of interfering with NEBE’s work. In a press statement issued on January 3, 2015, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek), a coalition of four opposition parties, called for the cancellation and re-election of public observers. “The public observers election was not publicized to the public so that the public could vote” Merera Gudina (PhD), Medrek’s head of external affairs, said.

This bumpy relationship between NEBE and prominent opposition parties has led to some of them saying they are not sure whether to take part on the actual election date on May 24, 2015. According to a local newspaper Addis-Admas, Blue Party, AEUP and the Medrek coalition said the political space is still very tight, and demanded the government to make it free and fair election to take place. If this does not happen, they threatened to withdraw from the actual election date.

However, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegne has called for collaborated participation of all parties towards the success of the 2015 national election. In a press release to local journalists issued on December 24, 2014, he characterized opposition parties to three groups: parties that fully, partially, and never respect the rules and regulations of the country.

In countries like Ethiopia where, the government and ruling party’s role in governance is not clearly distinguished, the PM’s characterization of opposition parties and his pledge to punish some pose concern among the prominent opposition parties that the government would aggressively act against them to the best interest of the ruling party. On  January 16,2015, UDJ claimed EPRDF had reached at ‘an internal consensus’ to impose systematic obstacles on the party in order to exclude it from taking part on the election process.

Contrarily, EPRDF posted a status update on its official Facebook page on January 10, 2015 saying that the ruling party will play its role to make the upcoming election process ‘peaceful, democratic, fair, free and credible to the public’. The Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO) also told local press on January 15, 2015 that the government is already engaged to make sure the upcoming election process is peaceful, fair and credible in the eyes of everyone. Deputy Minister Ewnetu Blata said international standard election regulations are set to make sure this year’s election is peaceful and fair.

Nevertheless, conflict between NEBE, prominent opposition parties and the ruling party is expected to reach its climax as the actual election date approaches.

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ምርጫው እየተቃረበ በመጣበት በአሁኑ ወቅት ብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ ከተፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ጋር ከባድ ችግር ውስጥ ወድቋል

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ዋና ዋና የሚባሉት የኢትዮጵያ የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ግንቦት 16 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም የሚካሄደው አጠቃላይ ሃገራዊ ምርጫ ጋር በተያያዘ ከኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ ጋር ያላቸው ግንኙነት በብዙ መልኩ ፈተና የበዛበት ሆኗል፡፡ ይህ በምርጫው ተፎካካሪ ፓርቲዎች ዘንድ ፍትሃዊ የሆነ የመወዳደሪያ ሚዳ ሊፈጥር ባለመቻሉ ምክንያት የተወሰኑ የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ድምጽ የሚሰጥበት ቀን ሲደርስ ራሳቸውን ከውድድሩ ሊያገሉ እንደሚችሉ በይፋ እስከመግለጽ ደርሰዋል፡፡

ታህሳስ 28 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. ምርጫ ቦርድ ሰማያዊ ፓርቲ ከተመሰረተበት ጊዜ አንስቶ “በአፍራሽ ተግባራት ላይ በመሰማራቱ” በሚል ቦርዱን ይቅርታ እንዲጠይቅ ለፓርቲው ደብዳቤ ፅፏል፡፡ ሰማያዊ ፓርቲ ለብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ በጥር 4 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም በላከው የመልስ ድብዳቤ ምርጫ ቦርድ ያቀረበውን ጥያቄ “ህገ-ወጥ” ነው በሚል ውድቅ ያደረገው ሲሆን ቦርዱ ሆን ብሎ ፓርቲውን ከመወንጀል ስራው እንዲቆጠብም አሳስቧል፡፡  አንድነት ለዴሞክራሲ እና ለፍትህ ፓርቲ (አንድነት) እና የመላው ኢትዮጵያ አንድነት ፓርቲም (መኢአድ) እያንድአንዳቸው አለባቸው የተባለውን የውስጥ ችግር እንዲፈቱ እስከ ቅርብ ጊዜ ድረስ ከቦርዱ ማስጠንቀቂያ ሲሰጣቸው ቆይቷል፡፡

ሆኖም አንድነት እና መኢአድ ምርጫ ቦርድ በውስጥ ጉዳዮቻቸው ላይ ያለአግባብ ጣልቃ እየገባ መሆኑን ብሎም ከምርጫው ሊያገላቸው እየጣረ እንደሆነ ይከሳሉ፡፡ መኢአድ በተለይ ለሶስተኛ ጊዜ ጠቅላላ ጉባኤ እንዲያካሂድ ከምርጫ ቦርድ መጠየቁ አላስደሰተውም፤ የፓርቲው ፕሬዝዳንት ማሙሸት አማረ “ቦርዱ መኢአድን ከምርጫው ለማድለል ተልኮ አለው” ብለዋል፡፡ የአንድነት ፓርቲ የህዝብ ግንኙነት ሃላፊ አቶ አስራት ጣሴም የኢትጵያ ብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ ፓርቲያቸውን ለማፍረስ ተልኮ እንዳለው ተናግረዋል፡፡

የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ከብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ ጋር የፈጠሩት ቅራኔ ቦርዱ በውስጥ ጉዳዮቻቸው ላይ ጣልቃ ይገባል በሚለው ውንጀላ ብቻ የተመሰረተ አይደለም፡፡ የህዝብ ታዛቢዎች ምርጫን አስመልክተው ፓርቲዎቹ ሳይታዘቡት ፍትሃዊ ባልሆነ መንገድ የተካሄደ እና ይሄም ቦርዱ ሆን ብሎ ገዥውን የኢትዮጵያ ህዝቦች አብዮታዊ ዴሞክራሲ ፓርቲ (ኢህአዴግ) ለመጥቀም ያደረገው ነው ብለዋል፡፡

የህዝብ ታዛቢዎች ምርጫ ታህሳስ 12 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. ምህረት የተካሄደ ሲሆን ምርጫው ከተካሄደ አንድ ቀን በኋላ ሰማያዊ ፓርቲን እና መኢአድን የሚጨምረው የዘጠኙ ፓርቲዎች ትብብር በብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ አሰራር ውስጥ የገዥው ኢህአዴግ ፓርቲ ጣልቃ ገብነት እንዳለ ተናግሯል፡፡ የአራት ፓርቲዎች ጥምረት የሆነው የኢትዮጵያ ፌዴራላዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ አንድነት መድረክ (መድረክ) ታህሳስ 25 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. በሰጠው ጋዜጣዊ መግለጫ የህዝብ ታዛቢዎች ምርጫ እንዲሰረዝ እና በድጋሚ እንዲካሄድ ጠይቋል፡፡ የፓርቲው የውጭ ጉዳዮች ሃላፊ ዶክተር መረራ ጉዲና “የህዝብ ታዛቢዎች ምርጫን ህዝቡ ወጥቶ ይመርጥ ዘንድ ለህዝቡ በስፋት አልተዋወቀም” ብለዋል፡፡

ይህ በብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ እና ዋና ዋና የሚባሉት ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች መካከል ያለው ውጣ ውረድ የበዛበት ግንኙነት የተወሰኑትን ድምፅ በሚሰጥበት ግንቦት 16 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. ተሳትፍ ስለማድረጋቸው እርግጠኛ እንዳይሆኑ አድርጓቸዋል፡፡ በሃገር ውስጥ የሚታተመው አዲስ አድማስ ጋዜጣ እንደዘገበው ሰማያዊ ፓርቲ፣ መኢአድ እና መድረክ የሃገሪቱ የፖለቲካ መጫወቻ ሜዳ እንደጠበበ እንደሚገኝ ገልጸዋል፤ እንዲሁም መንግስት ነጻ እና ፍትሃዊ ምርጫ ለማካሄድ የሚያስችል ያደርገው ዘንድ ጠይቀዋል፡፡ ይህ ሊሆን ካልቻለ ግን ድምጽ መስጫ ጊዘው በደረሰ ወቅት ራሳቸውን ከምርጫው ሊያገሉ እንደሚችሉ አስጠንቅቀዋል፡፡

ሆኖም የኢትዮጵያ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ሃይለማሪያም ደሳለኝ ለመጭው የግንቦት ወር 2007 ዓ.ም. ምርጫ ስኬት ሁሉም ፓርቲዎች  ተባብረው እንዲሰሩ ጥሪ አቅርበዋል፡፡ ታህሳስ 15 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. ለሃገር ውስጥ ጋዜጠኞች በሰጡት ጋዜጣዊ መግለጫ በሃገር ውስጥ የሚገኙ ተቀዋሚ ፓርቲዎችን ሁሌም ህግ እና ስርዓትን አክብረው የሚሰሩ፣ እንድ አንዴ የሚያከብሩ በሌላ ጊዜ ደግሞ የሚጥሱ እንዲሁም ሙሉ በሙሉ ህግ እና ስርዓትን የማያከብሩ በሚል በሶስት ከፍለዋቸዋል፡፡

እንደ ኢትዮጵያ ባለ የመንግስት እና ገዥ ፓርቲ አሰራር በሀገር አስተዳደር ላይ በትክክል ባልተለየበት ሃገር የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ተቀዋሚ ፓርቲዎችን በዚህ መልኩ ከፋፍሎ ማስቀመጥ እና የተወሰኑትት ላይም የቅጣት እርምጃ እንደሚወስዱ መናገራቸው መንግስት የገዥውን ፓርቲ ዋና ፍላጎት በሚያሟላ መልኩ በተቀዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ላይ እርምጃ ሊወስድ እንደሚችል የተወሰኑ ፓርቲዎች ሰላይ ስጋት አሳድሯል፡፡  ገዢው ፓርቲ ኢህአዴግ አንድነት ፓርቲ በምርጫው ሂደት እንዳይሳተፍ ለማድረግ የተለያዩ እንቅፋቶችን ለመጣል የውስጥ ስምምነት ላይ መድረሱን አንድነት ገልጿል፡፡

በተቃራኒው ደግሞ አህአዴግ በፌስቡክ ማሕበራዊ ድረ ገጹ ጥር 2 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. እንደገለጸው ገዢው ፓርቲ መጪው ምርጫ “ሰላማዊ፣ ዴሞክራሲያዊ፣ ፍርሃዊ፣ ነጻ እና በህዝብ ዘንድ ታዓማኒነት ያለው” እንዲሆን ሚናውን በተግባር እንሚጫወት ገልጿል፡፡ የመንግስት ኮምዩኒኬይሽን ጉዳዮች ቢሮም ለሃገር ውስጥ መገናኛ ብዙሃን ጥር 7 ቀን 2007 ዓ.ም. በሰጠው መግለጫ መንግስት የምርጫው ሂደት “ሰላማዊ፣ ፍትሃዊ እና መሁሉም ዘንድ ተዓማኒ እንዲሆን” ተግባራዊ እንቅስቃሴ በማድረግ ላይ መሆኑን ተናግሯል፡፡ የቢሮው ሚኒስትር ዴኤታ አቶ እውነቱ ብላታ እንደተናገሩ የዚህ ዓመት ምርጫ ሰላማዊ እና ፍትሃዊ እንዲሆን ዓለም ዓቀፍ መስፈርት መሰረት ያሟሉ የምርጫ አሰራሮች ተዘርግተዋል ብለዋል፡፡

የሆነ ሆኖ በኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ ምርጫ ቦርድ፣ ተቀዋሚ ፓርቲዎች እና ገዢው ፓርቲ መካከል ያለው እሰጥአገባ በለተይ ምርጫው እየተቃረበ በሚመጣበት ጊዜ የበለጠ እየተካረረ እንደሚሄድ ይጠበቃል፡፡

 

 

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ኢትዮጵያ፤ ተቃዋሚዎች በአገር ውስጥ የመገናኛ ብዙሀን ሽፋን እጥረት ያጋጠማቸው ፈተና

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on Tuesday, 13 January 2015
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የአገሪቱ የመገናኛ ብዙሀን በመንግስት ተጽእኖ ስር በማረፉ ሳቢያ ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ቀጣዩን ምርጫ የሚመለከቱ መልእክቶቻቸውን ለህብረተሰቡ ለማድረስ ሌሎች አማራጮችን በመጠቀም ላይ መሆናቸውን ይገልጻሉ።

አስቸጋሪ ሁኔታ ነው የገጠመንይላሉ የአንድነት ለዴሞክራሲና ለፍትህ ፓርቲ የህዝብግንኙነት ሀላፊ የሆኑት አቶ አስራት አብርሀም። በአሁኑ ሰዓት በሀገሪቱ ያለው የሚዲያ ሁኔታ ከየትኛውም ወቅት በከፋ መልኩ ፍጹም ዝግና ለተቃዋሚዎች ፈጽሞ የማይመች ነው። አብዛኞቹ የግል ሚዲያዎች የተዘጉበት፣ ጋዜጠኞች በብዛት የተሰደዱበትና በከፊል ደግሞ በእስርቤት የታጎሩበት ሁኔታ ነው ያለው።

በተመሳሳይ መልኩ የሰማያዊ ፓርቲ ህዝብ ግንኙነት ሀላፊ አቶ ዮናታን ተስፋዬ የጉዳዩን አሳሳቢነት እንዲህ ሲሉ ይገልጻሉ፤ ይህ በእውነቱ ታስቦበት የተደረገ ነው። ከቀደምት ምርጫዎች አንጻር በተለይም 1997 .ም በኋላ እንኳን ምርጫ ኖሮ ይቅርና በማቸውም ሰዓትም ሚዲያዎች እጅግ ፈኑና ያሉትም ወይ ለገዢው የሚያገለግሉ አልያም በፍርሃት ድባብ ያሉ ናቸው፡፡ ከዛ የተረፉት ደግሞ ህትመታቸው እጅግ አነስተኛ ነው ከወራት በፊት በጅምላ የተከሰሱ የህትመት ሚዲያዎችም ምርጫውን ተከትሎ የተወሰደባቸው እርምጃ መሆኑ ግልጽ ነው፡፡

በሀገሪቱ ውስጥ ብቸኛ የሆነውን ብሄራዊ የቴለቪዥን ጣቢያና ለብዙሀን ተደራሽ የሆነውን የሬድዮ ጣቢያ መንግስት በብቸኝነት ይቆጣጠረዋል። በክልሎች የሚገኙ የመገናኛ ብዙሀንም ቢሆኑ እንዲሁ በክልል መንግስታት ቁጥጥር ስር የዋሉ ሲሆኑ፤ ኤፍ ኤም ጣቢያዎችም እንዲሁ በቀጥታም ሆነ በተዘዋዋሪ ገዢው ፓርቲ የሚዘውራቸው ቸው።

 

እናስ ተቃዋሚዎች የቀራቸው አማራጭ ምን ይሆን?

 መገናኛ ብዙሀኑ በገዢው ፓርቲ ተጽእኖ ስር በመውደቃቸው የተነሳ ፓርቲያችን በማበራዊ ድረገጽ ላይ በንቃት ተሳትፎ በማድረግ የአግድም መረጃ ልውውጡን ይጠቀምበታልበማለት አቶ ዮናታን ስላላቸው አማራጮች ያወሳሉ።በአገዛዙ ጫና ከህትመት የወጣችው የፓርቲው ልሳን ነገረ-ኢትዮጵያም በዚሁድረ-ገጽ በኩል መረጃ እናሰራጫለን።

 ምንም እንኳ የህትመት ቁጥሩ በሳምንት ከሁለት ሺህ ባይዘልም አንድነት ፓርቲ በምርጫ ቦርድ ተመዝግበው በሀገሪቱ ውስጥ ከሚንቀሳቀሱት ፓርቲዎች መካከል (ደጋፊ ከሚባሉት ውጭ) ፍኖተ ነጻነት የተሰኘ የራሱን ጋዜጣ ያሰራጫል።

አቶ አስራት እንደሚሉት ፓርቲያቸው የራሱን ማተሚያ ቤት ለማቋቋም ከፍተኛ ጥረት እያደረገ ከመሆኑም ባሻገር ከሁለት አመት በፊት መንግስት በሚቆጣጠረው ብርሀንና ሰላም ማተሚያ ቤት እንዳትታተም ተደርጋ ከገበያ ውጪ የሆነችውን ጋዜጣቸውን በቅርቡ ወደ አንባቢዎቿ ተመልሳለች።

መልእክታችንን ወደ ህዝቡ ለማድረስ ማህበራዊ ድህረገጾችን ጨምሮ ማናቸውንም አማራጮች እንጠቀማለንብለዋል።

ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ከሚገለገሉባቸው ሌሎች አማራጮች መካከል በአጭር ሞገድ የሚሰራጩት የአሜሪካ ድምጽ ራዲዮና የጀርመን ድምጽ ራዲዮ ናቸው። መንግስት እነዚህን ሁለት ጣቢያዎች  2002 ምርጫ ወቅት አግዷቸዋል የሚል ክስ ቀርቦበት የነበረ መሆኑ ይታወሳል።

ሌላውና ዋንኛው ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች የሚገለገሉበት የመገናኛ ብዙሀን ደግሞ ሀያ አራት ሰአት በቀጥታ ከአምስተርዳም፣ ለንደንና ዋሽንግተን ስቱዲዮዎች በአማርኛ ቋንቋ የሚሰራጨው የኢትዮጵያ ሳተላይት ቴሌቭዝን (ኢሳት) ነው።

2002 .ስርጭቱን የጀመረው ይሄው ጣቢያ የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት ስርጭቱን በአግባቡ እንዳያካሂድ እገዳ እያደረገበት መሆኑን ሲገልጽ ቆይቷል። መንግስት በበኩሉሽብርተኛሲል የፈረጀውን ግንቦት ሰባት አገልጋይ ነው ሲል ጣቢያውን ይወነጅላል።

 ይሁንና ነጻ የሆነ የመገናኛ ብዙሀን እንዲሁም ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ መብት በሀገሪቱ ውስጥ ሊከበር ይገባዋል በማለት የሁለቱም ፓርቲ መሪዎች በአጽንኦት ይናገራሉ።

ያለዚያ የህዝቡን መብት የሚያከብር ዴሞክራሲያዊ መንግስት መፍጠር አስቸጋር ይሆናል። በመሆኑም ጉዳዩ የሚመለከታቸው አካላትና አለማቀፉ ህብረተሰብ መንግስት እነዚህን መብቶች እንዲያከብር አስፈላጊውን ሁሉ ጫና ሊያደርጉ ይገባልብለዋል።

 

 

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የ2007 የኢትዮጵያ ምርጫ ለለውጥና ለዴሞክራሲ እድገት

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የኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ የምርጫ ቦርድ ባስቀመጠው የጊዜ ሰሌዳ መሰረት በመጪው ግንቦት 16 አምስተኛው አገራዊ ምርጫ ይካሄዳል። ለዚህም የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች የምርጫ ቅስቀሳ ዘመቻ የካቲት 7ቀን ተጀምሮ ግንቦት 13 ቀን ይጠናቀቅና አጠቃላይ የምርጫ ውጤትም ሰኔ 15 ቀን ለህዝብ ይፋ እንደሚደረግ ተገልጿል።

ቀደምት የኢትዮጵያ ምርጫዎች ዳሰሳ
ከወታደራዊው የደርግ መንግስት መውደቅ በሁዋላ የ1987ቱ ህገ-መንግስት በስራ ላይ ከዋለ ወዲህ ለአራት ተከታታይ ጊዜያት በተካሄዱት ምርጫዎች በቀድሞው ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ የተመራው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝቦች አብዮታዊ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ግንባር (ኢህ አዴግ) አሸናፊነቱን ሲያበስር ቆይቷል።
ሶስተኛውና በ1997 ዓ .ም የተካሄደው አገራዊ ምርጫ ምንም እንኳ ውጤቱን ተከትሎ ከፍተኛ ረብሻና ህዝባዊ አመጽ የተስተናገደበት ቢሆንም ከጅምሩ የነበረው ሂደት ግን ለአገሪቱ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ምርጫ የራሱን አሻራ ጥሎ አልፏል። ይሁን እንጂ በዚህ ምርጫ፤ ከምርጫው እለት ማግስት ጀምሮ ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች በአብዛኛው የአገሪቱ ክፍሎች እያሸነፉ መሆኑ መሰማት ጀመረ። ከዚህም ባሻገር አጠቃላይ የምርጫ ውጤት መዘግየት ደግሞ በዩኒቨርሲቲ ተማሪዎችና በህዝቡ ዘንድ ቁጣን ቀሰቀሰ። በሁዋላም ብሄራዊ የምርጫ ቦርድ ከ 547 የህዝብ ተወካዮች ምክር ቤት መቀመጫ ገዢው ፓርቲ የ372 ፓርላማ መቀመጫዎችን ሲያሸንፍ ተቃዋሚዎች ደግሞ 172 ወንበሮችን ማሸነፋቸውን ሲገልጽ ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ውጤቱን ባለመቀበል ምርጫው ተጭበርብሯ ሲሉ ገለጹ። ይህም ህዝቡ አደባባይ በመውጣት ተቃውሞውን እንዲገልጽ ምክኒያት ሆነ። በዚህም ሳቢያ ፖሊስ በሰላማዊ ሰልፍ አድራጊዎች ላይ በቀጥታ በመተኮስ ለብዙዎች ህይወት ማለፍ ሰበብ ሆኗል።
በመቀጠልም መንግስትን በሀይል ለመጣል መሞከር በሚል ወንጀል 131 የሚሆኑ የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ መሪዎችና አባላቱ ወደ ወህኒ ተወረወሩ። ከዚህም መካከል 21 የግል ጋዜጠኞች ናቸው።
በመጨረሻም ገዢው ፓርቲ የመንግስት ስልጣንን ሙሉ በሙሉ ጠቅልሎ በቁጥጥሩ ስር እንዲያውል አድርጎታል። ከዚያ ቀጥሎ በተካሄደው አራተኛው የ2002 ዓ.ም ምርጫ ከአንድ የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲና ከሌላ አንድ የግል ተወዳዳሪ በስተቀር ሙሉ በሙሉ በሚባል መልኩ (99.6 በመቶ ) የፓርላማ ወንበር ገዢው ፓርቲ ብቻውን ሲቆጣጠረው ያን ያህል አስገራሚ ያልሆነው በዚሁ ምክኒያት ነው።

የ 2007 አገራዊ ምርጫ
የዚህ አመቱ የኢትዮጵያ ብሄራዊ ምርጫ በጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ሀይለማሪያም ደሳለኝ የስልጣን ዘመን ሲካሄድ የመጀመሪያው ነው። ሀገሪቱን ለሀያ አንድ አመታት የመሩት የቀድሞ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊን ህልፈተ ህይወት ተከትሎ በመስከረም ወር 2005 ዓ.ም ወደ ስልጣን የመጡት ሀይለማሪያም ደሳለኝ በምክትል ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትርነትና በውጭ ጉዳይ ሚኒስትርነት ለሁለት አመታት ያህል አገልግለዋል። በሁለት መቶ አመታትየኢትዮጵያ የመሪዎች ታሪክ ከትግራይና ከአማራ ብሄረሰብ ዉጪ የሆነ መሪ ወደ ስልጣን ሲመጣ ሀይለማሪያም የመጀመሪያው ናቸው።
በሀገሪቱ የምርጫ ቦርድ ተመዝግበው የሚንቀሳቀሱ 75 የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ይገኛሉ። ከነዚህም ውስጥ 23ቱ በብሄራዊ ደረጃ የሚንቀሳቀሱ ሲሆን ቀሪዎቹ ደግሞ በክልል ደረጃ የሚንቀሳቀሱ ናቸው። ከዚህም ባሻገር 12 የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች የገዢው ፓርቲ ወገንተኛና በሚንቀሳቀሱበት ክልልም የፓርቲው ፕሮግራም አስፈጻሚዎች ናቸው። በተቃዋሚ ጎራ ከተሰለፉት መካከልም አምስት ያህል ጠንካራ ተቀናቃኝና ሰፊ የህዝብ ይሁንታን ያገኙ ሲሆን እነሱም፤ አንድነት ለዴሞክራሲና ለፍትህ ፓርቲ፣ መላው ኢትዮጵያ አንድነት ድርጅት፣ የመላው ኢትዮጵያ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ፓርቲ፣ የፓርቲዎች ጥምር የሆነው መድረክና ሰማያዊ ፓርቲ ናቸው።

የቀጣዩ ምርጫ አጠቃላይ ሁኔታ ዳሰሳ
ይህ ምርጫ የሚካሄደው ኢትዮጵያ ከፍተኛ የኢኮኖሚ ዕድገት ባስመዘገበችበት በዚህ ወቅት ነው። ሀገሪቱ 10 በመቶ ኢኮኖሚያዊ ዕድገት ያስመዘገበች ሲሆን ይህም ከአፍሪካ ትልቁ ውጤት ነው። ይሁን እንጂ ኢትዮጵያ በሰብአዊ መብት አያያዝ ረገድ በአለም አቀፍ ህብረተሰብ ዘንድ መልካም ስም የላትም። በተለይም የመገናኛ ብዙሀን ነጻነትን በተመለከተ አስከፊ የሚባል ደረጃ ላይ ደርሳለች። ኢትዮጵያ ከጎረቤትዋ ኤርትራ በመቀጠል ጋዜጠኞችን ወደ ወህኒ በመወርወር ሁለተኛ ደረጃ ላይ ተቀምጣለች። 
የኤሌክትሮኒክስ የመገናኛ ብዙሀን የሚባሉት የቴሌኮሚኒኬሽንን ጨምሮ በመንግስት ቁጥጥር ስር ያሉ ከመሆናቸውም ባሻገር በግሉ ዘርፍ ያለውም ቢሆን ጫና በሚያሳድሩ አፋኝ ህጎች ስር የወደቀና ከፍተኛ ቁጥጥር የሚደረግበት ነው። ለነጻ ሚዲያው ዕድገት ማነቆ የሆኑት ሌሎች ምክኒያቶች ደግሞ በግል ሚዲያው ላይና የሲቪል ማህበራት ላይ የሚጫነው ከፍተኛ የገንዘብ ጫና፣ ዝቅተኛ የጋዜጦች ህትመትና ስርጭት እንዲሁም የተሟላ የመገናኛ ዘዴዎች መሰረተ ልማት እጥረት ናቸው።
አርቲክል አስራ ዘጠኝ በመጠናቀቅ ላይ በሚገኘው የፈረንጆች አመት (2014) ላይ የአገሪቱን ወቅታዊ ሁኔታ በቃኘበት ሪፖርቱ እንደ ገለጸው ምንም እንኳ ኢትዮጵያ እ.ኤ.አ 2009 የተሰጣትን አስተያየቶችና ግምገማ በወቅቱ የተቀበለቻቸው ቢሆንም በተግባር ላይ እንዳላዋለቻቸው ጠቅሷል። በተለይም ደግሞ በአሁኑ ወቅት ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ መብትና የመረጃ ነጻነት ከመሻሻል ይልቅ ከዕለት ወደ ዕለት እየደበዘዘ መምጣቱን አስታውሷል።
በ 2007 ምርጫ መንግስት የተሰጡትን አስተያየቶች በመቀበል ሙሉ በሙሉ በስራ ላይ ለማዋልና በሀገሪቱ ህገ መንግስት የተጠቀሱትን ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽና የመሰብሰብ መብቶች ለማክበር እንዲሁም ከምርጫው ቀደም ብሎ ፖለቲካዊ ውይይቶችና ክርክሮችን ለማበረታታት ተስማምቶ የነበረ ቢሆንም በአሁን ሰአት እየሆነ ያለው እውነታ ግን ከዚህ በተቃራኒ ነው።

የጸረ ሽብር ህጉን በተመለከተ
ባለፈው አመት ሚያዚያ ወር ላይ የዞን ዘጠኝ አባላት የሆኑ ስድሰት ጦማሪያንና ሶስት ጋዜጠኞች በቁጥጥር ስር ውለው በዚሁ የጸረ ሽብር ህግ ተከሰዋል። በወቅቱም አርቲክል አስራ ዘጠኝ ጉዳዩ እንደሚያሳስበውና ይህ ህግ ከዚህ ቀደምም 22 ያህል ጋዜጠኞችን ለእስር የዳረገ እንዲሁም የጋዜጠኞችን አለም አቀፍ ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ መብትን የሚጻረር መሆኑን ገልጾዋል።
ከዚህም ባሻገር የጸረ ሽብር ህጉ በተባበሩት መንግስታት የሰብአዊ መብት ተከራካሪ ኮሚሽን፣ በአፍሪካ የስብአዊ መብት ኮሚሽን፣ በሰብአዊ መብት ኮሚቴና በተባበሩት መንግስታት ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ ልዩ ጥበቃና ተከራካሪ ቡድን ከፍተኛ ተቃዉሞ ቀርቦበታል። የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት ሽብርተኝነትን ለመዋጋት በሚያደርገው ማንኛውም እንቅስቃሴ ሰብአዊ መብቶችን መጠበቅ እንዳለበት በመርህ ደረጃ የሚያምን ቢሆንም በድርጊት ግን ፍጹም ተቃራኒ ነው።

የወንጀለኛ መቅጫ አንቀጾችና የጋዜጠኞች ክስ
የቀድሞ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ ህልፈተ ህይወት በ2004 ዓ.ም ነሀሴ ወር ማገባደጃ ላይ ይፋ ከመሆኑ በፊት ለሁለት ወራት ያህል ከሚዲያ መጥፋታቸው ጉዳዩ በሚስጥር በመያዙ በህዝብ ዘንድ አነጋጋሪ ሆኖ ነበር። በዚህ ወቅት ነበር የፍትህ ጋዜጣ ዋና አዘጋጅ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ ይህንኑ ጉዳይ ለህዝብ ይፋ ለማድረግ ወደ ህትመት ያመጣው። ይሁን እንጂ ተመስገንና የፍትህ ጋዜጣ አሳታሚ ማስተዋል ብርሀኑ በዚሁ ጉዳይ ተከሰው ፍርድ ቤት ቀርበው ህዝብን በመንግስት ላይ ማነሳሳት በሚል ወንጀል ተከሰዋል። በተመሳሳይ አንቀጽ ሌላ ክስ ከሁለት አመት ክርክር በሁዋላ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ ባለፈው ወር ላይ የሶስት አመት ፍርደኛ ሆኖ ወደ ወህኒ ሲወርድ አሳታሚው ደግሞ የአስር ሺህ ብር ቅጣት ተጥሎበታል።
በእንደዚህ አይነት ተመሳሳይ ህጎች ብዙ ጋዜጠኞች ለእስር የተዳረጉ ሲሆን ሌሎች ደግሞ ሀገር ጥለው እንዲሰደዱ ሆነዋል። መንግስት እንደነዚህ አይነት ህጎችን ከሱ ሀሳብ በተቃራኒ የሚቆሙትን ለማጥቃት በይፋ በመጠቀም ላይ ይገኛል።
በመስከረም ወር 2007 ዓ .ም እንዳልካቸው ተስፋዬ (አዲስ ጉዳይ መጽሄት)፣ ግዛው ታዬ (ሎሚ መጽሄት)፣ እንዲሁም ፋጡማ ኑርያ (ፋክት መጽሄት) የሀሰት መረጃ በማሰራጨት፣ አመጽ በመቀስቀስና መንግስትን በሀይል ለመጣል መሞከር በሚል ተከሰው የሶስት አመት እስራት በሌሉበት ተፈርዶባቸዋል።

ቀጣዩ ምርጫና ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ ጠቀሜታ 
ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ መብትን ሙሉ በሙሉ ማክበር ለቀጣዩ ምርጫ ወሳኝና ዋነኛ ጉዳይ ነው። በዴሞክራሲያዊ ስርአት ዜጎች ድምጻቸውን ለሚፈልጉት ተመራጭ በመስጠት የራሳቸውን መንግስት በነጻነት ይመርጣሉ። ይንንም ለማድረግ እንዲችሉ ስለሚመርጧቸው እጩ ተወዳዳሪዎች ማንነትና ስላቀዷቸው ፕሮግራሞች ሙሉ መረጃ ሊቀርብላቸው ይገባል። ይህንንም ለማስፈጸም ነጻና ገለልተኛ ሚዲያ መኖሩ አስፈላጊ ነው። ሁሉም እጩ ተወዳዳሪዎችም እኩል የሆነ የመገናኛ ብዙሀን ሽፋን ሊሰጣቸው ይገባል። በመንግስት ቁጥጥር ስር የሚገኙ የመገናኛ ብዙሀንም ቢሆኑ መረጃን በነጻነት ማሰራጨት ይኖርባቸዋል። ያለ ነጻና ገለልተኛ ሚዲያ የመንግስትን ፕሮግራሞች ለማስፈጸም አይቻልም። መረጃን በነጻነት ለማግኘት ተግባራዊ ህጎች ሊኖሩ ይገባል። በመሆኑም የመረጃን ነጻ ፍሰት የሚገድቡ ማናቸውም ህጎች ቢሆኑ ተግባራዊ መሆን የለባቸውም።

ሊሻሻሉ ስለሚገባቸው ህጎች

በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ በስራ ላይ የዋሉት የተለያዩ አፋኝ ህጎች ማሻሻያ ካልተደረገባቸው በስተቀር የሀገሪቱን ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ መብት ማሻሻል አይቻልም። እነዚህ ሊሻሻሉ የሚገባቸው ህጎች፤

1. የጸረ ሽብርተኝነት ህግ
2. የወንጀለኛ መቅጫ ህግ
3. የመገናኛ ብዙሀን አዋጅ
4. የስም ማጥፋትን የሚመለከቱ አንቀጾች
5. የመንግስት ሹማምንትን ስለመተቸት የሚጠቀሱ አንቀጾች
6. በሀገር ደህንነት ሳቢያ የተጣሉ ክልከላዎችን አለም አቀፍ ደረጃን እንዲጠብቁ ማድርግ ናቸው።

ቀጣዩ ምርጫና የአገሪቱን አጠቃላይ ሁኔታ ለመቀየር ያለው ድርሻ
በዚህ ምርጫ የሚሳተፉ አካላት ሁሉ ተጨባጭ ለውጥ ለማምጣት ዕድሉን መጠቀም አለባቸው። ሀገሪቷ አሁን ያለችበት የመረጃ ነጻነትና ሀሳብን በነጻነት የመግለጽ መብት በአግባቡ ጥናት ሊደረግበት ይገባል። ከምርጫው በሁዋላ ወደ መንግስት ስልጣን የሚመጣው ሀይል በዚህ ረገድ ሁነኛ መሻሻሎችን ለማምጣት ተግባራዊ የሚሆን ፕሮግራም ሊኖረው ይገባል። ይህም የመንግስት አስተዳደር ባህልን በመቀየር መደገፍ አለበት። መንግስት ከድብቅነትና ከሀይለኝነት ይልቅ ወደ ግልጽነትና ወደ ተጠያቂነት መሸጋገር ይኖርበታል።

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Death from unexpected cause.

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 On the fresh waters of Lake Victoria on another of those relaxing weekend boat cruises, Mubiru Kakebe focused his camera and snap! - he had taken another of those pictures. So he thought.One particular lady was not impressed though. She demanded that he deletes it but he 'refused' telling off the lady that, he, a photojournalist with Vision Group, had only taken a random picture on a public event (boat) and had not targeted any particular individual.

The lady threatened violence but without any weapon in her possession, she thought maybe a broken bottle  could force him to delete that one picture.She goes to the bar, buys a beer but does not even take a single sip from it. She immediately breaks off the lower part and comes back to demand again that Kakebe deletes the picture. Closer and closer she comes to Kakebe and says she rather cut him than let him keep her picture on his camera let alone allow it to be used in the media.

One hand firmly holding unto his camera, the other tries to protect his neck. In the process the bottle deeply cuts his hand.Since January 2014 when the incident happened, the wound had not yet healed and he did not see any danger until when he blacked out in office last week and was immediately rushed into intensive care.Sadly, he did not return to work or to his two daughters and to life as he lost the battle to a tetanus infection.

 Courtesy of The Observer-Uganda

 

 

 

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Campaign win! Repressive legislation attacking NGOs in Kenya withdrawn

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 On Wednesday 4th December, an amendment bill seeking to among other provisions limit the amount of external funding to NGOs in Kenya was defeated during the second reading in Parliament. The amendments contained in the Statute Law Miscellaneous (Amendments) Bill 2013 would have had dire consequences for NGOs in the country.

Among the contentious issues were a proposed limit to international funding for NGOs of just 15% and a plan to allow the government of Kenya considerable say on the operations of NGOs. In a country where NGOs play a considerable role in supporting many with basic and vital services, such as healthcare, education, and disaster relief, the amendment would have greatly affected the most vulnerable in society.

The rejection of the Bill is largely attributed to weeks of campaigning against the amendments. ARTICLE 19 did the legal assessment that provided the basis for the campaign against the amendments. Other civil society organizations including the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society and like-minded NGOs joined a spirited campaign against the amendments: peaceful demonstrations were held; a petition was delivered to Kenya’s parliament; and online actions, such as the international thunderclap organized by ARTICLE 19.

Civil Society responses to the tabled legislation highlighted the critical role that NGOs play in Kenya: the public came out in large numbers to condemn any attempt to shrink civic space and limit the work of NGOs; beneficiaries of NGO support, especially the most vulnerable members of society pressured parliament to reject the amendments; NGOs came together to form a formidable front in opposing the amendment. These concerted, coordinated and passionate efforts ultimately yielded so much pressure on the government to reject the amendments that they had little choice but to respond by withdrawing them.

NGOs provide much needed support for many of the most vulnerable in society. For example, in Kibera slum in Kenya, one of Africa’s largest slums, NGOs provide essential services ranging from healthcare to education to poverty alleviation. Capping the amount of funding to these NGOs would have been tantamount to destroying the livelihoods of those who depend on their services.

The proposed amendments brought to light attempts to shrink civic space in Kenya by the government. ARTICLE 19 will remain vigilant and ready to respond robustly to any further moves by the Kenyan government to limit freedom of expression or disable a vibrant civil society.

Fredrick Ochieng,Programme Assistant,Article 19 East Africa 

 

 

 

 

 

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One year on, still no Justice for Daudi Mwangosi

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By Paul Kimumwe ,ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa

Today (2nd September 2013,) marks exactly one year since journalist Daudi Mwangosi was brutally murdered at the hands of the Tanzania Police. His only crime was being a journalist. As the sole breadwinner, his demise meant a new life of suffering for his dependants.

The widow, Mrs. Itika Mwangosi is yet to cope with the loss, having to look after their four children. For Bethseba (10) and Herzegovina (13); they still ask the mother when Dad will be back. It is only Nehemia (17) who come to the rescue and try to explain the Dad is in heaven with the angels. At two, Mworia is just too young to understand anything.

To the media fraternity, the late Mwangosi was to become only the first. Their honeymoon had officially ended. Many more journalists were soon to be consistently attacked. A community radio journalist Issa Ngumba was found dead in a forest in Kakonko, in the northwestern region of Kigoma, on 8 January, three days after he went missing.

It was clear from the injuries on his body that he was murdered. A reporter for Radio Kwizera, the 45-year-old Ngumba left his home on the evening of 5 January to look for medical plants for his second job as a traditional healer. After he was reported missing, police and civilian volunteers searched intensively until his body was found in nearby Kajuluheta Forest.

A month earlier, on the night of Tuesday 4th December 2012, Shaaban Matutu, a journalist with Free Media Limited - publishers of the Tanzania Daima newspaper – had been shot by police. This happened at Matutu’s home in Kunduchi Machimbo after an alleged altercation with police officers, one of them firing and hitting Matutu in his left shoulder.

It was however the attack on Absalom Kibanda, the Chairman of the Tanzania Editors’ Forum in March 2013 that sent a strong message of intent and put the recent crackdown against the media and freedom of expression into context. The June 2012 indefinite ban on Mwanahalisi and brutal attack against Dr. Stephen Uliomboka, had seemed like isolated incidents.

With the last 12 months, Tanzania has gone from the beacon of hope in the region, which registers some of the worst attacks and violations against freedom of expression, to become one of the worst to be a human rights defender. After the tramped charges curtsey of the draconian laws failed to bully critical voices into submission, it seems the attention was to employ physical attacks and assaults.

For a country going through a constitutional review process, these attacks on the media and other critical voices are counterproductive as they have a chilling effect on any meaningful debate of the issues raised by the draft constitution and active involvement of the citizens in the subsequent democratic processes, including elections.

For all these attacks, no one has been held accountable, despite the various promises by the state, including the personal pledge by president after the attack Mr. Kibanda. The journalists, like all citizens have a right to protection from, and prevention of these attacks, and the state has a duty to thoroughly investigate the reported cases of abuse and violations of these rights to their logical conclusions and bring the culprits to book.

The right to freedom of expression is not a preserve of the media alone. Any violations and attacks on the media have far reaching consequences on the enjoyment of all other rights by the citizens. The government of Tanzania must demonstrate its commitments to the protection of freedom of expression as proposed in the draft constitution by first; ensuring that journalist are safe from all kinds of attacks; apprehend and hold all those implicated in these attacks, including its own officers accountable; as well as allowing for meaningful dialogue.

The time for political rhetoric is over. For Mrs. Itika Mwangosi and children, the wait to see justice for those responsible for killing her husband should not be a lifelong experience. The same applies for Dr. Uliomboka, Kibanda, Matutu and others who have been brutally attacked in the recent past.

 

 

 

 

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Why Somalia must do more to protect scribes

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Mascuud Abdulahi Aadan is a 23 year old, young man from Somalia. Mascuud is not a terrorist, neither is he a robber shot by police. The reason why the soft spoken young man has been in hospital for the last month, is the cost that comes with his job; that of a journalist reporting events in Somalia.

To understand the reason why Mascuud has been in hospital for this long, you need to go back to 17 July 2013. Mascuud, together with Mohamed Farah Sahal, a correspondent for the Mogadishu based Goobjoog radio were on assignment to report a landmine attack on the African Uninon Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Kismayu, at the Somalistar road in the Calanley neighborhood. A member of the Raskamboni brigade fired at their car. While his colleague was shot on the shoulder, treated and later discharged, Mascuud was shot in the spinal cord where the bullet remains as he waits for surgery.

Mascuud is just one of the many journalists in Somalia who risk their lives every day doing their job. As if that is not enough, they face constant challenges ranging from threats of attacks from political groups to terrorist groups like Al-Shabab. From January 2013, 8 journalists have been killed, 17 arrested and 3 others attacked in different circumstances. Just last week, a house of a radio editor was sprayed with bullets in an attempt to intimidate him from doing his job. Awil Mohamud Abdi who works for Radio Galkayo, was attacked by unknown gunmen in Galkayo, Puntland on Friday, 2 August. Unknown armed men followed Awil from his work place to his home. Moments after arriving home, the gunmen repeatedly shot at his bedroom window. The shooting left multiple holes in his bedroom wall and bullets on the floor. There was no claim of responsibility for the assassination attempt. However, it is suspected that Al-Shabaab fighters could have a role in the shooting.While we all appreciate that Somalia is a fragile state with many problems, the government must do more to protect journalists.The problem in Somalia is that perpetrators of violence against journalists are rarely brought to justice. This year alone, despite several reported attacks on journalists, only one perpetrator has been arrested following an attack that occurred back in May 2013. The attack involved Abdullahi Mohamed Jimale who works for Radio Ergo. He was attacked in the Baladweyne district by a man wielding an axe. The perpetrator is still in custody.

In Somaliland, the government is inherently involved in the intimidation of journalists. From media closures to arrests, journalists already have enough to deal with. Being a journalist in Somalia is hard enough. There have been numerous calls for protection of journalists but very little has been done. On 25 June, African Union’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Pansy Tlakula, urged states in Eastern Africa to do more to ensure the safety and protection of journalists who work in some of the world’s most dangerous regions. She said that states have not done enough to ensure journalists are secure and this has contributed to increased attacks since perpetrators are rarely held accountable.

 Mascuud is lucky to be alive. Through the ARTICLE 19 Emergency Fund and other partners working for freedom of expression and welfare of journalists in the region, he was airlifted to Nairobi where the bullet was removed. “I am very grateful to ARTICLE 19 for the support that they have given me”, he says. Mascuud is currently undergoing physiotherapy to help him walk again. If no action is taken to protect journalists, many more will share his fate. To a lot of people, Mascuud may just be a statistic, but to his family, a painful recovery period awaits. His career may be on hold for now, but his desire and passion to go back to what he does best is inevitable: “I will be ok, after the bullet is removed I will be ok, I feel better now and I hope I will be back to my job’’, he says. If Mascuud will ever walk again, no one knows, he faces an uncertain future filled with constant medical attention and physiotherapy.

 

 

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"Umusingi" Newspaper back after one year absence

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Umusingi Newspaper, the Weekly Kinyarwanda Newspaper is back on the streets after a year-long absence due to the imprisonment of its Chief Editor Stanley Gatera on charges of divisionism and sectarianism. He was released on 25 July 2013.

Speaking in regards to how he feels about the paper being back on the streets, Gatera says that although a year ago 3000 copies where printed, only 2,500 copies have been printed this time. “I was so happy when I walked around the streets of Kigali and saw the newspaper vendors selling the Umusingi Newspaper. It’s like a dream come true after a one year absence,” Gatera expresses.

33-year-old Gatera was arrested on August 1st, 2012 after complaints were filed by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) and ProFemme Twese Hamwe ,a women’s rights non-governmental organisation over an article published in Umusingi issue 71 dated June 25-July 5, 2012.  The story titled “Impamvu abagabo bahura n’ibibazo bakurikiye ubwiza bw’abakobwa bitwaga Abatutsi” which can be literally translated as “Marriage failures are a result of men falling for beautiful Tutsi women” is said to be an opinion piece that was written by the paper’s columnist Shangazi.

Despite returning to production, some journalists are still scared to write for Umusingi. “I am hoping with time this will change,” says Gatera. He also has not obtained any adverts so far and will rely mainly on the newspaper sales to keep it running. “I am very grateful to Article 19 for the emergency funds they provided me with to cater for accommodation and up keep which I had to sacrifice in order to print the newspaper and cater for other logistics.”

The next issue of Umusingi newspaper will come out on 20 August 2013.

 

 

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Rwanda:Release of Journalist welcome but more needs to be done.

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The release of Rwandan Journalist Saidat Mukabibi in June 2013 was a welcome relief to defenders of freedom of expression. Her release means that there are two journalists still in prison Agnes Uwimana and Stanley Gatera.  Rwanda introduced new laws providing some safeguards for freedom expression in 2013, but ARTICLE 19 believes they do not go far enough in establishing the independence and freedom of the media

There are still concerns that genocide laws and those related to defamation have not been amended or repealed and can be used by the State to limit freedom of expression and of the media in Rwanda. The state retains control of the media through a series of authorization requirements. Approval to launch a new media outlet must be granted by a state body. In addition to this, journalists are required to obtain accreditation in order to practice. Whilst accreditation is to be given by the media self-regulatory body rather than a state body, international standards are clear that there is no need for general accreditation, as this is an unjustified restriction of freedom of expression.

Rwanda is not in transition anymore, it is past that era, it is a country in the process of developing itself. Development is a multifaceted concept including social, economic and political element. For social development, elements like the press are fundamental. Access to information is critical and freedom of expression enables divergent views from which the best views are adopted. In any political system especially that which presupposes the right of its people to pursue their aspirations without hindrance from the state, the press becomes an ally and fundamental to this process.

While Rwanda has consistently defended its actions mostly based on national security and the fragility of the Rwandan sate, this argument is not lucid anymore. Rwanda must come to terms with the fact that to move on it must allow dissenting views and a free press is essential for this. 

Fredrick Ochieng, Programme Assistant Article 19 Eastern Africa, Email fredrick@article19.org

 

 

 

 

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There cant be Democracy in Uganda without Press Freedom

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24th May 2013

When Uganda’s president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was in Kenya for the swearing in of President Uhuru Kenyatta, one could not help but notice in his speech the congratulatory tone for the Kenyan media in their reporting especially during the elections. How ironical it was coming from a man who’s relationship with the media has been that of patronage and intimidation. What was also laughable was Museveni a man who has been in power for decades lecturing on democracy and the role of the press. If you think Museveni values pressmen then you must be living in another planet, just ask veteran Ugandan Journalist Onyango Obbo. Human rights groups rank Uganda as one of the worst countries for journalist to work in.This coming from a country that is in the process of democratization.

So when East Africa’s longest serving president ordered his henchmen to shut down independent media outlets in Uganda early this week, it was not surprising. The question was when not if this will happen judging by the heat that the so called “Muhoozi project” was generating.It is quite easy to deduce from the ongoing political events in Uganda that Museveni wants his son to succeed him. It clearly brought out the underlying problems in Uganda as a fledgling democracy and challenges inherent in this process. Having nearly decimated long time opposition Chief Kiza Besigye, it seems Museveni has set his sight on his next target-the press.

When French philosopher Alexis Detocqueville outlined the fundamental principles of democracy, he noted free press as key to the realization of democracy. Detocqueville was writing at a time when America’s democracy was just beginning. Back home in Africa democratic ideals have been hampered largely by autocratic regimes who in most cases want to stay in power till they die. The role of free press is paramount in nurturing democracy.

To start with the press is the watchdog of the society. In most cases the press has the necessary resources and intellect to unearth scandals which the government wants to hide from the public. Second the press is the primary source of information to the masses. It is through the press that civic education can be successful. The press also connects the society with the government. Also the press in most cases keeps the government on check, this largely due to the fact that it monitors processes of government. While this may not entirely eliminate corruption, it serves as deterrence to those contemplating to involve themselves in corruption.

The events in Uganda therefore are unfortunate, a direct attack on democratic ideals and diminish any hope of Uganda democratizing any time in the future. With Uganda lacking any vibrant civil society, it is the press that has been playing the role of watchdog of the society.An assault on the media as a pillar of democracy is an assault on the right of all Ugandans as they journey towards a more democratic Uganda. It also reinforces the view of most human rights groups that Uganda continues to infringe on the freedom of press.

Fredrick Ochieng,Article 19 East Africa

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Governments need to do more to protect journalists

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on Friday, 03 May 2013
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Today, as the world marks the 20th World Press Freedom Day, governments within the region need to take seriously their obligation of protecting freedom of expression and media. This year’s commemoration focuses on the deteriorating safety of journalists, media workers and social media producers and increasing impunity for crimes against freedom of expression. In 2012 alone, over 121 journalists were killed worldwide; almost double the annual figures of 2011 and 2010.

In 2012, Tanzania which had not reported any cases of journalists being killed saw Daudi Mwangosi and Issa Ngumba losing their lives. In Somalia, 18 journalists died in 2012 and in 2013 four journalists have already been killed. Journalists are constantly arrested and detained in Somaliland and Puntland and there is little accountability for the attacks leading to high-level of self censorship and many go into exile.

In 2012, Human Rights Network for Journalist-Uganda investigated and documented 82 cases of attacks against Ugandan journalists. Once again few people were held accountable for them. Rwanda’s Court of Appeal on 26 March 2013 upheld the one year conviction of Stanley Gatera, Managing Director of Umusingi newspaper. He had been convicted in November 2012 for inciting divisionism and gender discrimination in an opinion column he published in his newspaper. He became the third journalist to be incarcerated.

Kenya’s journalists continue to face assaults, arrests and intimidation. In a study conducted in December 2012 by the Kenya Media working group, 91% of Kenyan journalists said they had been threatened in the course of their work. 50% had been threatened at least once while 19.1% had received threats more than five times during their career. These threats to a large extent curtail freedom of expression guaranteed in Articles 33, 34, 35 of the Constitution. 

Somalia is already taking steps to ensure accountability for these aggressions. On 5 February 2013 Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon launched an Independent Task Force on Human Rights expected to thoroughly investigate a broad range of human rights abuses, including the killing of journalists. However, it is yet to start its work. The country has also has started reviewing Media Law (2007) and journalist protection is expected to be anchored in the new law.

A military tribunal on 29 March 2013 sentenced to death Adan Sheikh Hussei for killing radio journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge on 21 September 2012. The conviction came on the heels of the government offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the "successful conviction of a journalist killer." 

Rwanda government on 11 March 2013 promulgated the media Law, which provides some safeguards for freedom of the press. However, it still contains some provisions which pose a threat to journalists and the independence of the media.

The Kenya government has indicated that the Revised Media Bill, Freedom of Information Bill, revised Kenya Information and Communications Bill and Independent Communications Commission of Kenya bills are ready. It is hoped that these bills will bolster freedom of expression and of the media. 

Nevertheless, widespread harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest of journalists continues. Governments must commit to do more to protect journalists and freedom of expression at large.

Ends

  • The writer works with ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, an organization monitoring Freedom of Expression in Eastern Africa.
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A deserved freedom award to Ethiopia journalist Reyoot Alemu

Posted by Super User
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on Thursday, 18 April 2013
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Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu has won the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. UNESCO on its website indicated that Ms. Alemu was recommended by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.”

The prize for Reeyot is a merited one. She is a highly remarkable emblem for freedom of expression in Ethiopia. At a time when many journalists have succumbed to pressures from a range of interest groups both financial, and political, Reeyot has maintained her independence and professionalism. She is matchless and top end professional who did not succumb to either exile and or silence.

As an independent journalist, Reeyot has written many articles focusing on Ethiopia’s two- decade long policy of denying members of the independent press the right to freedom of expression. Reyoot started her journalism career as a columnist with Feteh newspaper, which was later shut down by the authorities. Then she established her own publication named “Change, which is also closed. In order to continue writing and circumvent the Government censors, Reyoot became a columnist for various online media. People used to read Reyoot’s journalistic and opinion pieces with enthusiasm before her imprisonment. Most of her works are great journalistic pieces. Despite a number of barriers to disconnect Reyoot from the public, her works are still available, thanks to her own effort to publish them in a book titled EPRDF’s Red Pen.

Reyoot was arrested on June 21st 2011 when the government launched a coordinated attack against the members of private press incarcerating dozens of journalists. She was charged under the vague and broad sweeping anti-terrorism laws passed by the Ethiopian legislature in 2009. The laws allow for the arrest of anyone thought to “encourage” parties labeled as terrorists. During her trial, the Prosecution produced emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups; reports or photos she had sent to the U.S.-based opposition news site Ethiopian Review; unspecified money transfers from her bank account; and photos of anti-government graffiti she had photographed in Ethiopia. Reyoot was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined 33,000 birrs (about $1,850). In August 2012, an appeals court subsequently reduced the 14-year prison sentence to 5 years and dropped most of the terrorism charges against her.

While in the notorious Kality Prison, Reyoot has been offered clemency, if she agreed to testify against her journalist colleagues. She refused and was sent to solitary confinement for 13 days as punishment for her failure to cooperate. She has recently fallen ill and had to undergo surgery to remove a tumor from her breast.

Reyoot is extremely passionate for freedom of expression and other human rights justice—a woman who gave her life to the cause of justice. Her life makes a significant contribution to Ethiopian journalism and Freedom of Expression in the country-No doubt, she deserved the award.

 

 

 

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