The Ethiopian media regulator suspended the license of popular English-language online news website, the Addis Standard, on Thursday, July 15, for allegedly “advancing the agenda of a terrorist group”.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the suspension as a grave threat to media freedom and called on the Ethiopian authorities to revoke the decision.
According to a statement issued by the Ethiopia Media Authority (EMA) “the media has been a platform to advance the terrorist group’s agenda” in what is considered to be a likely reference to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The Ethiopian Government designated the TPLF as a terrorist organisation in May.
The publisher of the Addis Standard, JAKENN, said “it is deeply disturbed by the regulator’s decision to suspend the media’s license”. The founder of the Addis Standard, Tsedale Lemma, told Reuters News Agency that they have plans to mount a legal defence against the suspension.
The IFJ has recently expressed its dismay over the escalation of aggressions against media and journalists.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said that the deteriorating state of the media in Ethiopia is very worrying.
Bellanger said : “The Addis Standard is suspended by the regulator because of its critical articles about the Government. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed must do more to defend media freedom and freedom of expression which are key pillars in every democracy. The Ethiopian government must demonstrate tolerance against critical voices and put an immediate end to the persistent harassment and aggression that are designed to silence independent media.”
The IFJ has called on the Ethiopian regulator to immediately revoke its decision and to allow the Addis Standard to restart publication. It calls on the government for the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists and media workers who have been unfairly arrested and an immediate halt to the systematic repression of Ethiopian media in the interest of democracy and good governance.