Sec Kerry travels to Ethiopia: will he bring up press freedom?

May 1, 2014

by Tom Murphy

Secretary of State John Kerry is in the midst of a week-long trip to three sub-Saharan African nations: Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. There, he will focus on security in the region, especially as it pertains to the Congo. He does not forget an obligatory stop by programs that are a part of the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.John Kerry at Gandhi Memorial Hospital, in Addis Ababa

But will Kerry remember to press Ethiopia on its press crackdowns when talking to them about democracy?

Last week, six members of the Zone Nine blogging collective were arrested. The bloggers have been critical of the government and its programs. Reports indicate that they are being held in a detention center in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa.

The group stand accused of inciting public violence through social media and working foreign organizations. The actions were quickly decried by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Kerry’s trip to Ethiopia is garnering attention from the rights groups.

“We hope that Secretary Kerry will recognize that peace and democracy are not compatible with censorship, intimidation, pervasive surveillance, and a crackdown on free expression and independent media,” wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The issue of press freedom is evidently on Sec Kerry’s radar. He responded to a tweet by New York Times journalist Nick Kristof regarding the recent arrests in Ethiopia.

posted by Daniel tesfaye


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