Washington — The IWMF is gravely concerned about freedom of the press in Ethiopia upon learning the cassation court's decision to uphold Reeyot Alemu's conviction and prison sentence in Addis Ababa today.
Ethiopia has become one of the most oppressive in the world for press freedom, with numbers of jailed journalists rising steadily each year.
Under late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia jailed more journalists than any other country in Africa, except for Eritrea.
The repeated use of Ethiopia's vague Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to silence government-critical voices is highly alarming. After her arrest in June 2011, Alemu was held for months without charge and subsequently convicted of terrorism although her activities have been purely of a journalistic nature.
"As a journalist, I was preparing articles that oppose injustice", Alemu has told the IWMF. "When I did it, I knew that I would pay the price and I was ready to accept that price. Because journalism is a profession that I am willing to devote myself to. For me, journalists are the voices of the voiceless. That's why I wrote many articles which reveal the truth. Even if I am facing a lot of problems because of it, I always stand firmly for my principle and profession."
After a partially successful appeal in August 2012, Alemu's initial 14-year sentence was reduced to 5 years. Every day of the 19 months she has already served and the 41 months in prison that lie ahead of her, is a reminder that the Ethiopian government has yet to understand the value of press freedom.
Alemu has been honored with the 2012 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award and the 2012 Hellman/Hammett Award.
Founded in 1990 by a group of prominent U.S. women journalists, the International Women's Media Foundation is a Washington-based organization that is dedicated to strengthening the role of women journalists worldwide. The IWMF empowers women with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to serve as a prominent voice on global issues. The IWMF’s programs provide training, support, and advancement for women journalists worldwide. At the core of the IWMF’s mission is the belief that no press is truly free unless women have an equal voice.