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IFEX members and other participants at IFEX meeting sign declaration on Ethiopia

(EFJA/IFEX) - The following is a joint action signed by IFEX members and other participants at the International Freedom of Expression eXchange meeting in Dakar, Senegal on 10-13 September 2002:


We the undersigned support the resolution of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA), adopted on August 17, 2002, in connection with the new press law and the journalists' Code of Ethics that is in the process of being drafted by the government.

As regards the Press Law the resolution says: "The Press Law in force that was issued before the constitution was promulgated lacks clarity and elaboration. Media professionals have not participated in the drafting of the Press Law. The preparation and drafting of a new press law is inappropriate at a time when the EFJA, counterpart associations throughout the world, and organizations that fight for the rights of journalists are urging the Ethiopian government to amend the existing Press Law."

The formulation, issuing and enforcement of professional code of ethics is the exclusive right of freely organized associations and free society and not the right of the rulers. In this connection, the EFJA resolution says, "Journalists code of ethics must be drafted, endorsed and implemented by the journalists themselves without any external intervention and not by any other body. EFJA and its members are strongly opposed to the government's drafting and enforcement of the code of ethics".

The resolution goes on to say "The new Press Law and code of ethics deprives citizens of the right to exercise their freedom of expression and exchange of ideas and would be cause for the cancellation (withdrawal) of press licenses."

We the undersigned participants at the 10th IFEX General Meeting in Dakar, Senegal condemn:

- the routine violent repression and systematic destruction of the free press
- the imprisonment of three journalists, Lubaba Sa-id, Tewodros Kassa and Zegeye Haile, because they had exercised their profession.

We the undersigned participants at the 10th IFEX General Meeting in Dakar, Senegal call on the Ethiopian authorities to:

- immediately and unconditionally release all free press journalists in detention;
- relax repressive measures taken against the publication and distribution of newspapers;
- immediately stop its intervention (under the guise of subsidising "responsible press publications") that is calculated to create divisions among members of the free press;
- allow IFEX and international press institutions to send joint missions to Ethiopia to examine the situation of journalists;
- amend the existing repressive Press Law;
- refrain from issuing and enforcing the proposed new Press Law and Journalists Code of Ethics.


Alexis Sinduhije, Africa Public Radio (APR), Burundi
Annie Joof-Cole, African Women?s Media Centre, Senegal
Eko Maryadi, Alliance of Independent Journalists, Indonesia
Dalatou Maham Mamane, Association des journalistes de Niger
Arnold Amber, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Robert Russell, Cartoonists Rights Network
Shobhakar Budhathoki, Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies, Nepal
Eréndira Cruzvillegas, Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, Mexico
Ann Cooper, Committee to Protect Journalists, US
John Akker, Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, UK
Richard Apronti, Free Expression Ghana
Raymond Louw, Freedom of Expression Institute, South Africa
Demba Jawo, Gambia Press Union Corina Cepoi, Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Sola Isloa, Independent Journalism Centre - Nigeria
Laura Puertas, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, Peru
Aidan White, International Federation of Journalists
Charles Batambuze, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions/Free Access to Information and Freedom Expression
Jesper Højberg, International Media Support, Denmark
Barbara Trionfi, International Press Institute
Esther Banakayi Mpiana, Journaliste en Danger, Democratic Republic of Congo
M?Baya Tshimanga, Journaliste en Danger, Democratic Republic of Congo
Azer H. Hasret, Journalists' Trade Union, Azerbaijan
Luckson Chipare, Media Institute for Southern Africa
Sam Mbure, Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa (NDIMA), Kenya
Patricia Lumba, OneWorld Africa
Eszter Filippinyi, Open Society Institute (OSI)Budapest legal Institute
Pius Njawe, Cameroon
Nina Ratulele, Pacific Islands News Association
Lyndon Ponnie, Press Union of Liberia
Ibrahim El-Tayyibh Bah, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
Faisal Al Bagir, Sudan
Ababacar Niang, Syndicat des professionnels de l'information et de la communication du Sénégal (SYNPICS)
M. Nalla Sy, Syndicat des professionnels de l'information et de la communication du Sénégal (SYNPICS)
Ibrahim Coulibaly, West African Journalists' Association
Gabriel Ayité Baglo, West African Journalists' Association and IFJ Media for Democracy Programme
Daniel Lawson Drackey, West African Journalists' Association, Togo
Alpha Sall, West African Journalists' Association
Marilyn Greene, World Press Freedom Committee, US
And other members of WAJA and SYNPICS, and other regional journalists

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