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UN panel says Ethiopia's jailing of dissident columnist violates international law

The following is a CPJ blog post by Tom Rhodes/CPJ East Africa Consultant

Authorities in Ethiopia describe Eskinder Nega, a prominent columnist and government critic jailed since September 2011 on vague terrorism charges, as a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. However, in an opinion handed down in 2012--publicized only this week by Washington, D.C.-based legal advocacy group Freedom Now--a United Nations panel of five independent experts ruled that Eskinder's imprisonment came "as a result of his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression."

The opinion from the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was issued after a judge in Addis Ababa sentenced Eskinder to 18 years in prison in July 2012, accusing him of writing "articles that incited the public to bring the North African and Arab uprisings to Ethiopia." In the opinion, the experts detailed several breaches of Eskinder's rights, from his arrest without warrant and allegations of mistreatment in pre-trial detention, to a flawed prosecution and trial that fell short of international standards of fairness.

Read the full story on CPJ's website.

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