UN alarmed at 'climate of intimidation' in Ethiopia

2012-07-18 22:27
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Geneva - Journalists and human rights campaigners are the target of "overly broad" anti-terrorism laws in Ethiopia where there is a "climate of intimidation", a top UN expert said on Wednesday.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke out after the recent prosecution of journalists and activists under legislation passed in 2009.

"The once vibrant civil society in Ethiopia has been whittled away as the space for them to operate freely has rapidly shrunk since the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation was passed into law," Pillay said in a statement from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.

"The dramatic reduction in the number of organisations working on human rights issues, particularly on civil and political rights, is deeply disturbing."

Some 20 Ethiopians, including journalist-blogger Eskinder Nga, were jailed on July 13 for up to 18 years after being accused of promoting anti-government protest in Ethiopia, including by using examples of the Arab Spring uprisings in the media.

Pillay said the "overly broad definitions in the July 2009 anti-terrorism law of Ethiopia result in criminalising the exercise of fundamental human rights."

"Taken together, such laws have created a climate of intimidation," she added.

Read more on:    ethiopia  |  human rights  |  east africa
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