8 March 2014

Ethiopian Journalist Association Warns Journalists Forum

Photo: Doha Centre for Media Freedom
Journalist Reeyot Alemu, currently serving a five-year jail term in Ethiopia.

The first and oldest professional association in the nation's media industry, Ethiopian Journalists Association (EJA), on Tuesday warned the under formation Ethiopian Journalists Forum.

In a press conference EJA called in connection with the 45th anniversary of its foundation, it accused the Ethiopian Journalists Forum (EJF) of trying to involve in defaming EJA under the cover of journalism.

Meanwhile, the EJA has been under scrutiny accused of siding with the government instead of being for the safety of the journalists.

On the occasion of a press briefing held at the Ethiopian Television and Radio Agency headquarters, officials of the EJA said they only welcome the forum if it is formed under the legal procedure.

President of the EJA, Meseret Atalay said in accordance with the countries law and procedure that there are forums or association that will be established. It is a legally given right with that.

"If the newly under formation journalist forum is being established to help the journalists, since it's the result of the democracy, it would be appreciated. But if it is established under false pretext, misleading and that is using defamation and putting a strain on other associations, EAJ would take all the necessary measures."

EJA was established 45 years ago during the reign of Emperor Haileselassie around 1953.

EJA officials did not deny the accusations about them siding with the government as opposed to siding with the free press. But they did argue that the allegation is not based in truth because the "EJA does not side with any religion, government or with any other political party but sides with the journalist that acts in accordance with the code of conduct of journalism."

The president agrees, giving acknowledgment when the government does something good and criticizing it when required.

The newly forming forum "Medrek" was established a month ago and has already designed a 6-month project plan.

Asked about the accusation and warning issued by EJA, Public Relation officer of EJF, journalist Zerihun Mulugeta told The Reporter, "We don't like to react for any one at this stage since we are in the process of acquiring the legal personality from the concerned government body."

He did however underline that the executive committee of the forum decided not to engage in any tug of war with anyone until they are fully established and receive recognition from the government.

Currently, EJF has 30 founding members drawn from different media institutions.


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