ADDIS ABABA – U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry has urged Ethiopian Government to encourage more freedom for Civil Society Organisations and journalists.
He made the appeal while expressing concern over the recent arrest of groups of bloggers and journalists.
“They need to create greater opportunities for citizens to be able to engage with their fellow citizens and with their government by opening up more space for civil society.
“I am raising a very legitimate concern, we are concerned about any imprisoned journalist here or anywhere else,“ Kerry told reporters on Friday in Addis Ababa after a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.
He urged the Ethiopia government to support a free press as an essential precursor to legitimate democracy.
“The work of journalists, whether print journalism or the Internet or media of other kinds, make societies stronger, more vibrant and ultimately provide greater stability and greater voice to democracy.”
Nine persons including three journalists were arrested last week on charges of alleged criminal activities.
Rights groups say journalists and bloggers were targeted in a sweeping crackdown against free speech with several journalists sentenced under controversial anti-terror legislation.
“We should not use the anti-terrorism proclamation as mechanisms to be able to curb the free exchange of ideas,” Kerry, who is on a three-nation visit to Africa including Ethiopia, cautioned.
Kerry’s Africa tour to Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola is expected to address some of the deadly conflicts in several countries including South Sudan and the Central African Republic. (NAN)