Ethiopia: Journalism is not a crime.
Eskinder Nega, Ethiopia
Eskinder Nega has been imprisoned eight times for his writings over the years. His experience encapsulates the situation facing many of Ethiopia’s independent journalists, who must choose between self-censorship, arrest or living in exile. He was first jailed after the massive crackdown following the 2005 election, along with his wife and fellow journalist, Serkalem Fasil, who gave birth to their first child in Kaliti prison in 2006. Eskinder is currently serving an 18-year prison term after being convicted under the counterterrorism law in 2012. Eskinder received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 2012, and in 2014 he won the Golden Pen Award of Freedom. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded that Eskinder’s detention was arbitrary and called for his immediate release and reparations. Recent measures announced under Ethiopia’s state of emergency further close the space for media freedom, with bans on social media, restrictions on opposition political parties speaking to media, and bans on watching diaspora television.