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ERITREA Must Explain the Deaths of Three Journalists

ARTICLE 19 has issued a statement to the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to investigate human rights violations in the Horn of Africa country of Eritrea.

ARTICLE19 is insisting that the government of Eritrea explain the circumstances surrounding the alleged deaths of three journalists in prison. The journalists, Seyoum Tsehaye (or Fsehaye), a freelance journalist; Dawit Habtemichael, deputy editor and co-founder of Meqaleh; and a journalist identified only by the first name of "Yosief" or "Yusuf," who is thought to be almost certainly Yusuf Mohamed Ali, the editor of Tsigenay are reported to have died in prison in recent weeks.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned about Eritrea’s continued human rights violations, especially freedom of expression violations. “We view attacks on the media as a backward trend for democracy in the Horn of Africa,” says John Barker, Africa Programme Director. Eritrea shut down all independent media in 2001 and has stepped up attacks against media professionals inside the country.

Reporters without Borders and Freedom House have listed Eritrea among the worst human and media rights violators in the world. “The deaths of these three journalists further confirm Eritrea’s disdain for the media as an important part of democratic governance,” added Barker. In the past, Eritrean President Isias Aferwerki was perceived as one of “Africa’s new breed of leaders,” suggesting an inclination towards good governance. ARITCLE 19 asks that the African Commission urge Eritrea to return to the democratic path.

The Commission should also demand accountability from Eritrea’s government for the deceased journalists and help to facilitate the release of the journalists that still languish in prison.

NOTE TO EDITORS

For more information, please contact: ARTICLE 19

John Barker, Africa Programme Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

tel: +44 207 2789292; Direct line: +44 207 239 1189; fax: +44 207 2787660

or visit www.article19.org

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.