21 May 2004

Ethiopia: Kifle Mulat Receives Prestigious Award From Amnesty International for Bravery

The President of the Ethiopian Free Journalists Association (EFJA), and Editor-in-chief of Lissane Hizb, Ato Kifle Mulat, was last Tuesday awarded in London the prestigious "Special Award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat."

Amnesty International (UK) gave the award during a ceremony held at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in London.

Amnesty said Kifle Mulat received the award "in recognition of his bravery in defending the freedom of the press in Ethiopia in the face of constant official repression".

The prestigious special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat prize is awarded every year to a journalist from anywhere in the world who is reporting on the human rights situation in their own country and is thereby putting themselves at risk.

As head of EFJA, Kifle has been arguing for press freedom and most recently his organization, along with the international media rights groups, have challenged the Ethiopian government against passing a press law which EFJA says will limit freedom in the country.

Reports by Human Right Watch on Ethiopia said, "reporters, editors and publishers are frequently arrested and convicted for criminal defamation and disseminating false information on the basis of articles they have written or published ". As a result many journalists have been thrown in jail, harassed and forced to go in exile.

In March, two of the world's leading press freedom groups, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and early in January Fourteen International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) members signed a joint letter in defense of EFJA, condemning the Ethiopian government for its campaign to silence the press-freedom organization.

Most recently, Human Rights Watch also issued a statement asking the Ethiopian government to stop harassing journalists saying, the Ethiopian government is trying to muffle the independent press".

Sir Bob Geldof presented Kifle Mulat with the special Award.

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