The Feb. 9 editorial “Ethiopia’s stifled press” portrayed Ethiopia as a politically repressive country bent on harassing dissenting media outlets. That is far from the truth. For 24 years, the government has been focused on both building a democratic society based on the rule of law and ensuring economic development. Ethiopia’s new and flourishing constitutional order is the expression of the will of its people, and the government has the duty to protect this constitutional order from any subversion.
It is not appropriate to refer to individual cases, but the implication that journalists should be above the law is unacceptable. To suggest that journalists have been targeted under the guise of “terrorism” ignores the fact that Ethiopia is faced with significant and dangerous terrorist threats, including the activities of organizations linked to al-Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen and terrorist operations in Eritrea. Ethiopia takes seriously its responsibility of bringing perpetrators of grave offenses to justice, irrespective of their profession.
Human Rights Watch, which has had differences with the Ethiopian government, appears unwilling to accept that adequate and detailed evidence supports the government’s claim of transgressions of the law. Due process of law is observed, and all court procedures are open to the public. The comparison with Eritrea’s political system was untenable. Ethiopia has a vibrant, multilingual and often critical media.
Tesfaye Wolde, Washington
The writer is a counselor for public diplomacy and communication for Ethiopia’s U.S. Embassy.