Proposed Ethiopia Law Worries Bloggers, Activists (VOA)

May 20th, 2016 Print Print Email Email

For years, the Ethiopian government has been accused of using its anti-terrorism law to crack down on internal political dissent. Now, bloggers and political activists worry freedom of expression could be limited even further by a proposed new law.

Critics of the new legislation, called the Computer Crime Proclamation, say it would widen the door for the Ethiopian government to punish individuals voicing their opinions on the Internet.government to punish individuals voicing their opinions on the Internet.

Daniel Berhane, a prominent blogger who also runs his own website, believes the provisions against cybercrime in the bill could be used against anyone expressing an opinion online.

“This computer crime proclamation denies me the defenses, the safeguards already provided in the criminal code and the mass media law,” he said. “So it’s simply more prohibitive than the existing laws and it does that with just one sentence.”

The new bill mostly focuses on cybercrime and security; but, the proclamation also allows the imprisonment for those who distribute mass emails and it gives the national intelligence service the power to conduct virtual investigations without approval from a judge.

Belayhun Yirga of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Justice said nothing will change for those who are expressing their views on the Internet.

“If that person is just explaining his opinions or his view, he will not be liable for crime; but, the target of this law is just on the intention of the activity of the people concerning defamation,” he said. “If their purpose and general goal is for defaming, they will be liable because defamation, it is a crime.”

Ethiopia is often criticized for detaining, arresting and imprisoning individuals who voice their opinions online.

Journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega is currently serving an 18-year sentence. A group of young bloggers known as Zone 9 was detained for over a year.

And Yonathan Tesfaye, the spokesperson of an opposition group, has been in detention for nearly six months over comments he made on Facebook.

Haben Fecadu of human rights group Amnesty International says the Ethiopian government is currently using the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to crack down on criticism.

“The precedent set by Yonathan’s charges are disturbing because it allows for the government to go after someone for expressing their views over social media,” he said. “Yonathan was also charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, and evidence against him was allowed to be presented and heard by the court without him knowing what that evidence was.”

The new Computer Crime Proclamation likely will be enacted in the next few weeks.

  1. aha!
    | #1

    Let us have people-people than ethnic-oriented in the first place and a government that rules by the consent of the governed in a liberal and/or social democracy with independent branches of government as a premise to an anticipated laws derived from ethnic federalism, secessionism, totalitarianism and/or developmental state capitalism that denies free market capitalism,and individual freedom to the majority of Ethiopians. Anti-terrorism Laws, Addis Ababa Master Plan, Law governing civil Organizations are derived from the Grand Master Plan: the constitution. The frame work of the constitution fosters ethnic rather than democratic rule, and/or ethnic dictatorship, minority now and majority in the future, rather than democracy a rule by the people for the people and of the people that comes about by the struggle for Ethiopia as a one nation state with it s multi-ethnic groups as an integral part of Ethiopia, but not divided by “settlements, languages and (ethnic) identity”, carrying (gossa) cards. The analogy to the integration is that the Amhara/Oromo constitute the roots, and Oromo/Amhara constitute the stem, the bigger and smaller branches comprise of relatively bigger and smaller ethnic groups engaged in their specific functions of a living organism. In this form of ideology the individual is front and center of the constitution in a liberal and/or social democracy.

  2. Fasildes
    | #2

    Blogging violence, blogging racism and blogging hate message will not be tolerated in the civilized world. And those who blog such anti-peace anti humanity must face justice of society.

  3. Dawi
    | #3

    Selam aha – I don’t see a short cut to democracy.

    However, citizens achievements in material gains created through industrial zones, commercial farming, grand projects like the GERD that moves folks across ethnic communities. Working together with diverse ethnic groups helps folks in doing less flaunting of their particular cultural group and moving them to have more interest in shared identity.

    The Project Manager of GERD Eng. Semegnew Bekele once said:

    “The construction of the Dam has played significant role in establishing and developing national unity among citizens. The national consensus reached due to this project has been an encouraging factor for the more than 10,000 citizens working on the project withstanding the unfavourable weather condition at the project site,” Semegnew said, adding, “Since the project is proceeding to the very completion, I would like to ask all citizens to continue their support till the end. According to him, the project has initiated several business potentials that reinforce further development.”

    The fight for democracy now surrounded by abject poverty can’t go far without building shared future. Collective achievements like the above that cross ethnic groups is something concrete to work for at this juncture instead of just talking about empty “freedom & democracy”.

    Having said that, we don’t disagree that the federalism of today needs improvement. One obvious thing we all recognized after the war with Eritrea was, the thinking of “secession” guaranteeing peace was a flawed logic. At the same time under federalism today, at least so far, we have not heard states threatening to secede.

    Bottom line though accelerating economic development & reaching middle income and beyond shall make the federalism itself a shell similar to US and Canada here.

  4. Development Without Freedom
    | #4

    The law makes it more important for Ethiopians, esp. those who live in free countries, to intensify their activities online to expose the crimes of the regime.

  5. ዘረ-ያዕቖብ ወ.ግ.ዓ.ም-ፅዮንThe Eth.
    | #5

    ኣይተ aha!,

    ከላይ ያስቀመጥከውን አይነት አባባሎችን ሳነብ ነው, TPLF & EPLF’ዎችን ያንን በገዛ ህዝባቸው ላይ ያደረሱትንና እያደረሱትም ያሉትን CRIMES ሁሉ እየገባኝም, ግን የባሰ እንዳይመጣ ደግሞ የእነሱን ጠቅላላ ሃጥያታቸውን በሙሉ ይቅርታ አድርግላቸው የሚያሰኝ ህልም እያስቃዠኝ የሚያድረው! ትንሽ ትልቅ ብሎ ሳይቀባጠርና,ጠቅላላ ቛንቛዎችን ብሄሮችን አክብሮ እንዴት ባለፀጋ መሆን እንደሚቻል “ጥናቴን ለማከናወን” ብዙ ጊዜ ስዊዘርላንድ ተመላልናሸ በቦታው ተገኝቸ እውቀትን ከሰበሰብኩኝ በኋላ, አሁን ደግሞ ሰሞኑን ይሄኑኑ ጥናቴን በመቀጠል ወደ በልጂግ-ብሩሰልስ ብቅ ብዬና በ’HOP ON HOP OFF ሁሉ ሳይቀር ትምህርት እንደተለገሰኝ ከሆነ, እነሱው በልጂጎችም ቢሆኑ የቛንቛዎቻቸውን በእኩልነት አከባበር ተግባራት ጭራሽ የአውሮፓ ዋና ከተማ ለመሆን እንደበቁና በዚሁ ልምዳቸው አሁን ደግሞ ከወደ 27 የሚሆኑ የአውሮፓ ቛንቛዎችን እንዲያስተናግዱ ተመርጠው, እያስተናገዱ እንዳለ ነው!

    ሌላ-ሌላ ጠባያቸውን ትቶ, ሻዕቢያ ወያነን ክልልንና የቛንቛዎች እኩልነት በምድረ ኢትዮጵያ እንዲሁም …… ስላስተዋወቁ ምስጋና ይድረሳቸው!

    ትምህርት እድሜን አይወስንምን ከኢሳያስ እንዃን ሳይቀርም እንማር! If at all የሰው ልጅ ከእርሱ ሊማረው የሚችልው ነገር ካለ ማለት ነው! ግን የባሰ ነገር እንዳይመጣ ተብሎ ምን የማይስቀባጠር ነገ አለናነው!

  6. ፌዝ
    | #6

    “ ግንቦት 20 ቅድመ ምርምራን በማስቀረት ደራሲያንን እፎይ አሰኝቷል “ ስማቸውን ያልገለጹ ደራሲ :: አዲስ አድማስ ጋዜጣ ላይ ግንቦት 20 ቅዳሜ 2008 የሰጡት አስተያየት ነው :: እርግጥ ዎያነ ዱሮ ማስታዎቂያ ሚንስቴር የነርበዉን ሳንሱር
    አፍርሶ ደራሲና ጸሃፊዎችን ጪንቅላታቸው ዉስጥ ትልቅ አስፈሪ ግንብ አንጿል : ልዩነቱ ይህ ብቻ ነው ::

  7. Anonymous
    | #7

    It is nothing new. It is happening in every country so why NOT? SOME OF YOU GUYS just WRITE SOMETHING that has no connection with the topic. It is not “Shy bet”

  8. Yosef
    | #8

    This Website is only for people who loves his/her country Ethiopia. Not just for the person who claim himself doctor or whatever profession. Our country need brilliant leader,educated people who are willing to work for thier own country. Those educated people must work in thier own fields. We don’t need somebody who swim from one political organizations to another one. We have to unit all parties under the same umbrella. We should have constitution that should be change whenever we change government. First and foremost one has to be ethiopian to be ethiopian. Ethiopia needs people who work not just talk or criticis.

  9. Yosef
    | #9

    It is nothing new. It is happening in every country so why NOT? SOME OF YOU GUYS just WRITE SOMETHING that has no connection with the topic. It is not “Shy bet”

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