Supreme Court rules against banned journalists – By Sisay Agena, Serkalem Fasil and Eskinder Nega. (Addis Ababa)
The Supreme Court today ruled against four publishing by overturning a High Court ruling and ordered them to pay hefty fines imposed in the infamous treason trial of 2005. (more…)
The Supreme Court today ruled against four publishing by overturning a High Court ruling and ordered them to pay hefty fines imposed in the infamous treason trial of 2005.
The fines imposed were:
1:Serkalem Publishing House 120, 000 birr(one hundred twenty thousand birr)
2:Sisay Publishing House100, 000 birr (one hundred thousand birr)
3:Zekarias Publishing House:60, 000 birr (sixty thousand birr)
4: Fasil Publishing House:15, 000 birr (fifteen twenty thousand birr)
Complying to pleas by government representatives, the Supreme Court had summoned four publishing houses—Sisay,Zekarias,Fasil and Serkalem publishing houses—to appear before it’s criminal bench on December 4 2009.The EPRDF led government had appealed a Federal court ruling which established that the publishing houses had been pardoned by the President in accordance with the law and the public pronouncements of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2007, despite the stringent claim by the government to the contrary. The Supreme Court today overturned the High Court ruling by agreeing with the government’s insistence that the pardon does not apply to the publishing houses.
The High Court that ruled against the government is the very court that imposed the fines in the first place. The next step is for the High Court to “freeze all liquid and fixed assets” of the defendants as requested by the government. In its four page petition to the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Finance and Development, which is representing the government, had specified that it is acting at the behest of the Ministry of Justice.
This ruling, two and half months short of the elections, is expected to have adverse effect on the nation’s limited political newspapers that are already working under a severely restricted environment.
Thirteen newspapers, the entire genre of Ethiopia’s free press, were closed down in the immediate aftermath of the post election riots in 2005; and to this date, incredibly, none have returned despite the release of all journalists by pardon (which the government is now denying) in 2007.
We take this opportunity to call on the EPRDF government to respect our constitutional right to freedom of expression and lift its illegal restriction against granting us press licenses.