Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights body demanded the release of 16 journalists and media personnel on Friday, following new arrests in the capital Addis Ababa and the restive Amhara region.
According to press watchdogs and human rights organizations, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s government is increasingly intimidating the media and harassing opponents as it seeks to quell regional unrest.
Recently, Ethiopian authorities have been particularly harsh in the Amhara and Oromiya regions. They justify arrests of journalists by accusing them of siding with insurgents.
In the latest round-up, Temesgen Desalegn of Feteh Magazine and Yayesew Shimelis of Ethio Forum Media were held on Thursday in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said.
Last week, Amhara authorities arrested five Ashara journalists in connection with their coverage of the Fano volunteer militia.
On the same day, Amhara authorities arrested four more Nisir International Broadcasting employees based in the United States.
Daniel Bekele, the head of the rights commission, said the total number of detained journalists was now 16 and urged their immediate release.
“No claim about the alleged offence committed through media justifies violation of the newly adopted media law which clearly prohibits pre-trial detention of persons charged with committing an offence through the media,” he said in a statement.
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