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“The judges were biased and incompetent, defence rights were violated and the sentence was decided in advance on the basis of spurious arguments. Everything suggests that it was a politically-motivated reprisal,” said RSF and RFI, noting the sentence comes “at the very moment that a law designed to protect journalists from imprisonment is on the point of being adopted.”

Global Freedom Movement

Imprisoned writer and journalist Eskinder Nega, with his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil

Imprisoned writer and journalist Eskinder Nega, with his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil

A journalist in Ethiopia and another in Burundi are facing life behind bars after shocking verdicts in unrelated cases but with almost identical anti-terrorism charges, say IFEX members.

Just today, well-known Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was convicted in a trial that 10 groups jointly called “the criminalisation of peaceful dissent in Ethiopia.” And last week, Hassan Ruvakuki, a radio journalist in Burundi, was sentenced to life imprisonment, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

On 27 June, the High Court in Addis Ababa found Nega guilty of “participation in a terrorist organisation” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act,” says a joint statement by 10 groups including five IFEX members – the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Human Rights Watch, the International Press Institute (IPI), PEN American Center and the World Association of Newspapers and News…

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