Mediaphobia in the Horn of Africa, a region where dozens of journalists still languish in prison, is getting out of hand and shows no sign of abating.
The latest saga includes the case of jailed Ethiopian female journalist and teacher Reeyot Alemu, whose health conditions are said to be deteriorating since she was imprisoned in 2011 on ‘fake’ terrorism charges.
Reeyot, who has a tumour in her breast but has been denied adequate medical assistance, is now being threatened with solitary confinement, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.
CPJ said prison authorities have threatened Reeyot with solitary confinement for two months as punishment for alleged bad behavior toward them and her alleged threats to publicise human rights violations by prison guards.
The New York-based media watchdog said this week that it has written an open letter to Ethiopian justice minister Birhan Hailu, requesting him to respect his country’s democratic and human rights engagement by sparing further troubles for the already ailing woman.
But, as it is the case all over Africa, there is a slim chance that the minister will heed the CPJ advice and free Reeyot or relax her tight prison conditions. Ethiopia has also jailed blogger Eskinder Nega on trumped-up terrorism charges.
Media analysts have described Ethiopia and its neighbours Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti as ‘hell on earth’ for critical journalists and commentators. Eritrea banned all private media 11 years ago, and is currently holding nearly 30 journalists without charge or trial, and some of the journalists have reportedly died in custody, media activists say.
Click here to read the CPJ letter:
*Photo by Storify. Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu jailed on ‘fake’ terrorism charges.