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Descent into hell continues in the Horn of African Country: Ethiopia is ‘not free’, global press freedom survey finds April 30, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Internet Freedom, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Freedom of the press around the world has plummeted to the worst level in a decade, a survey warned Wednesday, with the United States and China both tightening the noose.

Journalists globally encountered more restrictions from governments, militants, criminals and media owners, the annual report by the human rights group Freedom House said.

“Journalists faced intensified pressure from all sides in 2014,” said Jennifer Dunham, project manager of the report.

“Governments used security or antiterrorism laws as a pretext to silence critical voices, militant groups and criminal gangs used increasingly brazen tactics to intimidate journalists, and media owners attempted to manipulate news content to serve their political or business interests.”

One factor was the passage and use of restrictive laws, often on national security grounds.

“One of the most troubling developments of the past year was the struggle by democratic states to cope with an onslaught of propaganda from authoritarian regimes and militant groups,” Dunham said.

“There is a danger that instead of encouraging honest, objective journalism and freedom of information as the proper antidote, democracies will resort to censorship or propaganda of their own.”

Of the 199 countries and territories studied in 2014, a total of 63, or 32 percent, were rated “free” for the news media, while 71 (36 percent) were “partly free” and 65 (32 percent) “not free.”

Only 14 percent of the world’s inhabitants live in countries with a free press, Freedom House said.

The rating for the United States fell due to detentions, harassment, and rough treatment of journalists by police during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the report said.

Elsewhere in the Americas, declines in press freedom were seen in Honduras, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador.

The report said only five percent of people in the Asia-Pacific region have a free press, and that the rating for China fell as “authorities tightened control over liberal media outlets.”

Europe as a region had the highest score but also experienced the second-largest decline over the past 10 years.

The report also cited tougher conditions for journalists in Russia, Syria, Algeria, Nigeria and Ethiopia, while Tunisia “registered the best score of any Arab country.”

Social Progress Index 2015: The lowest five countries in the world on Social Progress are Ethiopia, Niger, Afghanistan, Chad, Central African Republic. #Africa. #Oromia April 26, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Internet Censorship, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index.
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In measuring national progress, Ethiopia as in its GDP per head records one of the lowest in Social Progress Index 2015. Ethiopia ranks 126 of 133 countries.

Ethiopia is the one of the lowest in social Progress 2015

‘The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing….  Economic growth alone is not enough. A society that fails to address basic human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life, protect the environment, and provide opportunity for many of its citizens is not succeeding. We must widen our understanding of the success of societies beyond economic outcomes. Inclusive growth requires achieving both economic and social progress.’


Click to access 2015%20SOCIAL%20PROGRESS%20INDEX_FINAL.pdf


Ethiopia (126), Niger (127), Yemen (128), Angola (130), Afghanstan (131), Chad (132) and Central African republic (133).

Ethiopia’s outcome:

One of the lowest in GDP (Income) and in SOCIAL PROGRESS Index.
Social Progress Index : 41.04 (126th)
Basic Human Needs: 44.04 (120th)
Opportunity: 28.59 (126th)
Foundations of Wellbeing: 50.49 (126th)

Water and Sanitation: 23.50
(Access to piped water, Rural access to improved water source, Access to improved sanitation facilities).
Personal Rights: 25.76
(Political rights, Freedom of speech, Freedom of assembly/association, Freedom of movement, Private property rights).
Access to Information and Communications:33.09
(Mobile telephone subscriptions, Internet users, Press Freedom Index)
Tolerance and Inclusion: 34.01
(Discrimination and violence against minorities, Religious tolerance,Community safety net).
Access to Advanced Education:5.74
(Years of tertiary schooling, Women’s average years in school,Inequality in the attainment of education, Globally ranked universities).
  • Ten countries in the world have been ranked as Very High Social Progress Countries as these countries generally have strong performance across all three dimensions. The average dimension scores for this tier are: Basic Human Needs is 94.77, Foundations of Wellbeing is 83.85, and Opportunity is 83.07.
  • As with most high-income countries, the top 10 countries score lowest on Ecosystem Sustainability and Health and Wellness.
  • Nearly all of the top 10 are relatively small countries, with only Canada having a population greater than 25 million.
  • The top three countries in the world on Social Progress are Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland with closely grouped scores between 88.36 and 87.97.
  • Canada is the only country among the G7 countries that has been ranked in top ten on SPI 2015
  • Under the High Social Progress Countries tier, there are 21 countries. This group includes a number of the world’s leading economies in terms of GDP and population, including the remaining six members of the G7: the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, the United States, France, and Italy. The average dimension scores for this tier are: Basic Human Needs is 90.86, Foundations of Wellbeing is 77.83, and Opportunity is 73.82
  • The third tier of Upper Middle Social Progress Countries comprises of 25 countries.  This group reveals that high GDP per capita does not guarantee social progress. Average scores for this tier are: Basic Human Needs is 80.66, Foundations of Wellbeing is 73.52, and Opportunity is 57.73.
  • The fourth tier Lower Middle Social Progress Countries comprises of 42 countries. The average dimension scores for this tier are: Basic Human Needs is 72.34, Foundations of Wellbeing is 66.90, and Opportunity is 47.14
  • Under the Low Social Progress Countries tier, there are 27 countries which include many Sub-Saharan African countries. The average dimension scores for this tier are: Basic Human Needs is 50.03, Foundations of Wellbeing is 58.01, and Opportunity is 38.35.
  • Under the Very Low Social Progress Countries tier, there are 8 countries. The average dimension scores for this tier are: Basic Human Needs is 38.46, Foundations of Wellbeing is 48.55, and Opportunity is 26.05.
  • The lowest five countries in the world on Social Progress are Ethiopia, Niger, Afghanistan, Chad, Central African Republic.

The Social Progress Index, first released in 2014 building on a beta version previewed in 2013, measures a comprehensive array of components of social and environmental performance and aggregates them into an overall framework. The Index was developed based on extensive discussions with stakeholders around the world about what has been missed when policymakers focus on GDP to the exclusion of social performance. Our work was influenced by the seminal contributions of Amartya Sen on social development, as well as by the recent call for action in the report “Mismeasuring Our Lives” by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.

The Social Progress Index incorporates four key design principles:

  1. Exclusively social and environmental indicators: our aim is to measure social progress directly, rather than utilize economic proxies. By excluding economic indicators, we can, for the first time, rigorously and systematically analyze the relationship between economic development (measured for example by GDP per capita) and social development. Prior efforts to move “beyond GDP” have comingled social and economic indicators, making it difficult to disentangle cause and effect.
  2. Outcomes not inputs: our aim is to measure the outcomes that matter to the lives of real people, not the inputs. For example, we want to measure a country’s health and wellness achieved, not how much effort is expended nor how much the country spends on healthcare.
  3. Holistic and relevant to all countries: our aim is to create a holistic measure of social progress that encompasses the many aspects of health of societies. Most previous efforts have focused on the poorest countries, for understandable reasons. But knowing what constitutes a healthy society for any country, including higher-income countries, is indispensable in charting a course for less-prosperous societies to get there.
  4. Actionable: the Index aims to be a practical tool that will help leaders and practitioners in government, business and civil society to implement policies and programs that will drive faster social progress. To achieve that goal, we measure outcomes in a granular way that focuses on specific areas that can be implemented directly. The Index is structured around 12 components and 52 distinct indicators. The framework allows us to not only provide an aggregate country score and ranking, but also to allow granular analyses of specific areas of strength and weakness. Transparency of measurement using a comprehensive framework allows change-makers to identify and act upon the most pressing issues in their societies.

These design principles are the foundation for our conceptual framework. We define social progress in a comprehensive and inclusive way. Social progress is the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.

This definition reflects an extensive and critical review and synthesis of both the academic and practitioner literature in a wide range of development topics. The Social Progress Index framework focuses on three distinct (though related) questions:

  1. Does a country provide for its people’s most essential needs?
  2. Are the building blocks in place for individuals and communities to enhance and sustain wellbeing?
  3. Is there opportunity for all individuals to reach their full potential?

These three questions define the three dimensions of Social Progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.



Posted by OromianEconomist in African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014.
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OEnemies of Internet


By Claire Lauterbach

Trovicor brochure25 March 2015 (Privacy International) — German surveillance technology company Trovicor played a central role in expanding the Ethiopian government’s communications surveillancecapacities, according to a joint investigation by Privacy International and netzpolitik.org.

The company, formerly part of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), provided equipment to Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in 2011 and offered to massively expand the government’s ability to intercept and store internet protocol (IP) traffic across the national telecommunications backbone. Trovicor’s proposal was to double the government’s internet surveillance capacity: two years’ worth of data intercepted from Ethiopian networks would be stored.

Trovicor’s predecessor in intelligence solutions, Siemens Pte worked closely with its British partner Gamma Group International via an offshore company in Lebanon to expand lawful interception in the east African country. Gamma Group’s highly intrusive FinFisher malware suite was used to target Ethiopian dissidents. Forensic traces of FinFisher malware have also been traced back to one of Gamma’s Lebanese operations.

Together, the companies and their Lebanese offshore subsidiaries helped one of Africa’s most repressive governments spy on one of its largest populations.

Backdoors to the backbone

Since 1991, Ethiopia has been governed by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF), a coalition of ethnically-based political parties that has severely restricted freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Police has and security forces have been accused of torture. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), an Ethiopian intelligence agency has used intercepted communications data to identify and punish targets it perceives as opposed to the government. Journalists, activists and average citizens widely assume that their communications are extensively monitored. Phone records and transcripts have also been used to extract confessions under torture, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Information Network Security Agency (INSA), created in 2011, consolidated and extended the state’s surveillance and censorship of internet traffic. It is reported to have used ‘deep packet inspection’ which allows for the inspection and rerouting of internet traffic as it passes an inspection point and fulfils certain criteria defined by the inspecting agent. In 2012, it blocked access to the anonymous browsing service Tor, further restricting safe spaces for communication. INSA is alleged to be the agency responsible for using offensive malware from Italy-based Hacking Team in 2013 and 2014 to target journalists.

Ethio Telecom runs the country’s phone and internet services as a state-owned monopoly. In 2010, the Ethiopian government contracted France Telecom to manage the company, changed its former name and embarked on a serious expansion of the country’s infrastructure. While good news for rural Ethiopians who have much less access to quality communications services, the government also expanded its surveillance capacities to match.

Trovicor was central to this expansion plan. The Munich-headquartered company sells monitoring centres to government and law enforcement clients worldwide to capture, monitor, analyse and store all data acquired during investigation activities transmitted on a wide spectrum of networks. Trovicor technicians work to integrate interception gateways provided by Trovicor or partner companies into network infrastructure of service providers to funnel communications data to the monitoring centres.

Trovicor continues the work of Nokia Siemens Network (NSN), a Helsinki-based joint venture of German conglomerate Siemens AG and Finnish telecoms company Nokia. In 2009, NSN sold its intelligence wing ‘Siemens Intelligence Solutions’ to Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP, a private investment firm, amid controversy that it supplied of surveillance systems to Iran. Perusa renamed its new acquisition ‘Trovicor.’

In January 2010, two representatives of the company presented an Ethiopian customer with a detailed operational plan to massively expand the government’s capacity to monitor IP traffic, according to a document obtained by netzpolitik.org.

Ethiopia’s fiber optic backbone carries the country’s mobile and internet traffic. Signals travel across Ethiopia through many different traffic routers including local and regional routers and international gateways. IP traffic originating or travelling abroad, for example to and from Gmail’s US-based storage servers, would pass through internet gateways at three sites. In 2010, the existing fiber optic cable routes radiated from Addis Abeba along the country’s roadways to key towns including Gonder and the Sudan border to the northwest, Mek’ele to the North, Nekemte to the West, Awassa to the south, Dire Dawa to the East and out to the Red Sea via Djibouti. That year, the government planned to add 37 new fiber routes covering a distance of around 10,000 kilometers and reaching further into rural Ethiopia.

The government required massively expanded powers to intercept IP traffic across the new and existing cables. The government was to add new local-level ‘edge routers’ (ER) to 25 new locations. At each of these ER, Trovicor proposed, the company would install its own next generation network (NGN) taps. These taps would not interfere with the transmission of the signal. Instead, they would also transmit traffic from the ER to a Trovicor aggregation switch that would transmit the signal to the government’s monitoring centre – provided by Trovicor. The monitoring centre would require data from all 25 new aggregation switches to be provided to it on a single 10GbE link.

The government would double its storage and archiving capacity under Trovicor’s plan. Two years’ worth of data transmitted across Ethiopian networks could now be analysed. A total of 3 terabytes could be stored online and actively queried by monitoring centre analysts; a further 28 terabytes of material could be archived.

With Trovicor’s plan, analysts would be able to locate a mobile caller based on his or her proximity to cell phone towers. Trovicor offered to add this geolocation capacity – a “very cheap solution in comparison to the positioning systems” – to the monitoring centre and to integrate the centre with the network architecture provided by Chinese company ZTE.

Throughout this period Ethio Telecom regularly conducted business with Nokia and Siemens companies, some of it for lawful interception, according to records obtained by Privacy International. It is not clear whether Trovicor was ultimately chosen to expand network interception capacities according to the January 2010 plan. Trovicor was, however, doing business in Ethiopia in 2011. In June 2011 the company sent a shipment to the NISS security agency from Munich to Frankfurt and onwards to Addis Abeba via an Ethiopian Airways flight, according to company records. Its exact contents are unknown. Trovicor and Siemens did not respond to requests for comment.

The Lebanese Connection

The 7th floor of Broadway Building in Beirut’s fashionable Hamra district houses two surveillance technology companies – Elaman and Gamma Group, or rather, their offshore affiliates.

Headquartered in Munich, Elaman sells a range of surveillance equipment, from communications monitoring centres to specialist cameras and body-worn call interception devices. It is also a distributor and close partner of the British surveillance consortium Gamma Group. Elaman marketed FinFisher, a malware suite that allows its user to access all stored data and even to take control of the microphone and camera, before Gamma took over the promotion and leadership behind the product in the late 2000s. The Elaman-Gamma partnership had “successfully been involved over the past five years in projects and contracts worth more than 200 million euros”, according to one brochure.

Both companies provide powerful surveillance technology via Lebanon. Four joint stock companies – Elaman – German Security Solutions SAL, Gamma Group International SAL, Gamma Cyan SAL Offshore, and Cyan Engineering Services SAL – share the same registered address, above the Beirut offices of humanitarian charity Save the Children.

Siemens paid one of these companies, Gamma Group International SAL, for an “Ethiopia Lawful Interception” project sometime before July 2011. Gamma Group International SAL’s business is facilitated by Nabil Imad who appears as a beneficiary on a bank account attributed to Gamma, according to information obtained by Privacy International. Lebanese law requires joint stock companies, known by the French acronym SAL, to have between three and 12 shareholders, the majority of whom must be Lebanese. Nabil ‘Sami’ Imad is listed as the director of both Gamma Cyan SAL and Elaman SAL while ‘Sami Nabil Imad’ appears as director of Gamma Group International SALMohammad Farid Mattar, a lawyer representing the heir of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, is also listed as a director of Gamma Group International SAL. The Lebanese company’s only listed non-Lebanese shareholder is its chairman, John Alexander Nelson Louthean. Louthean directs Gamma Group International Ltd. Gamma Group and Mattar both declined to offer comment.

In a written response to Privacy International’s and Netzpolitik’s questions regarding the operation, a lawyer for Gamma would neither confirm nor deny the details of this report. The same lawyer, speaking on Mr. Mattar’s behalf, would neither confirm nor deny Mr. Mattar’s involvement.

The “Ethiopia Lawful Interception” project could have been to integrate FinFisher into an Ethiopian Trovicor monitoring centre. Trovicor has offered to supply Gamma products to governments worldwide, including inTajikistan in 2009. A 2010 Gamma Group newsletter celebrated a new partnership with Trovicor based on successful collaboration in joint ventures. Wikileaks has identified that Gamma employees Stephan Oelkers and Johnny Debs visited Ethiopia in 2013 and Elaman CEO Holger Rumscheidt visited in 2012.

The combination of the two companies’ capabilities at the time – massive monitoring centres and the deployment of the FinFisher malware – presents a very concerning capability in the hands of a repressive government. FinFisher was used to target members of the Ethiopian political movement, Ginbot 7. Researchers at the Citizen Lab, a technology laboratory based in Canada, analyzed malware samples and determined that a FinFisher campaign originating in Ethiopia used pictures of Ginbot 7 members as bait to infect users – the corrupted files, when opened, would install the spyware onto the user’s device.

FinFisher was deployed against Ethiopians living abroad as well. Tadesse Kersmo is a London-based lecturer and member of Ginbot 7. Suspecting that his device was compromised, in 2013, he submitted his computer to Privacy International which, in collaboration with a research fellow of the Citizen Lab, analysed the device and found traces of FinFisher malware. The Citizen Lab’s forensic analysis of FinFisher samples obtained elsewhere have linked certificates for the samples to Cyan Engineering Services SAL. Kersmo used to use his computer to keep in touch with his friends and family and continued to advocate for democracy back in Ethiopia. With his chats and Skype calls logged, his contacts accessed, and his video and microphone remotely switched on, it was not only Kersmo that was threatened, but also every member of the movement.

Meanwhile in Germany, where Trovicor is headquartered and Gamma GmbH had an office before they transformed into FinFisher GmBH, German authorities maintain that they are unaware of either company supplying surveillance equipment to Ethiopia. After an investigation prompted by mounting evidence that German companies are leaders in the sale of surveillance technology worldwide, the German export agency said in a letter to the Bundestag that it found no records of any sale of surveillance technology to Ethiopia. However, the absence of records does not mean that no sales were made; unlike the sale of arms and other military equipment that necessitate the consideration of the human rights implications of a sale by export authorities, the sale of surveillance technology was not covered by any export regulation at the time of its export, allowing companies and their customers to trade free from any public scrutiny.

Back in Ethiopia, journalists, activists and many ordinary citizens self-censor in the face of constant government surveillance of their private communications. “We use so many code words and avoid talking directly about so many topics that often I’m not sure I know what we are really talking about” said one person who spoke with Human Rights Watch.

Thousands of kilometres away, European companies and their slightly closer Lebanese entities are responsible for these silences.

The European Union is currently considering if and how to regulate exports of surveillance technologies that lead to abuses of human rights. For more information, visit Privacy International or the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports.

Source: Privacy International


Ethiopia has continued to suppress free speech and associational rights. #Oromia #Africa March 13, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in African Internet Censorship, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Because I am Oromo, Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Freedom House

Ethiopia's scores on freedom

Freedom House Report: Ethiopia in 2015

Discarding Democracy: Return to the Iron Fist


In 2014 the Ethiopian government continued to suppress free speech and associational rights, shattering hopes for meaningful reform under Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Government harassment and arrest of prominent opposition and media members continued, including the April arrest of nine journalists who were charged under Ethiopia’s controversial antiterrorism law. In April and May, massive protests in Oromia Regional State broke out following the announcement of the planned expansion of Addis Ababa into Oromia. At least 17 people died after the military fired on unarmed protesters.

Despite nascent signs of an opening with Eritrea, formal dialogues remain frozen between the two countries. The Ethiopian-Eritrean border remains highly militarized, though no major border clashes were reported in 2014.

Sporadic violence resumed in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region after talks failed in 2013 between the government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist group that has fought for independence since 1991. In January 2014, two ONLF negotiators dispatched to Nairobi for a third round of talks were abducted and allegedly turned over to Ethiopian authorities by Kenyan police. The kidnappings effectively ended the talks.

Ethiopia ranked 32 out of 52 countries surveyed in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, below the continental average and among the bottom in East Africa. The country’s modest gains in the index are due to its improvement in human development indicators, but its ranking is held back by low scores in the “Participation and Human Rights” category.

Political Rights: 7 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 1 / 12

Ethiopia’s bicameral parliament is made up of a 108-seat upper house, the House of Federation, and a 547-seat lower house, the House of People’s Representatives. The lower house is filled through popular elections, while the upper chamber is selected by the state legislatures; members of both houses serve five-year terms. The lower house selects the prime minister, who holds most executive power, and the president, a largely ceremonial figure who serves up to two six-year terms. Hailemariam has served as prime minister since September 2012, and Mulatu Teshome as president since October 2013.

The 2010 parliamentary and regional elections were tightly controlled by the ruling coalition party Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), with reports of voters being threatened with losing their jobs, homes, or government services if they failed to turn out for the EPRDF. Opposition party meetings were broken up, and candidates were threatened and detained. Opposition-aligned parties saw their 160-seat presence in parliament virtually disappear, with the EPRDF and its allies taking all but 2 of the 547 seats in the lower house. The next elections are scheduled for 2015.

B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 2 / 16

Shorn of their representation in parliament and under pressure by the authorities, opponents of the EPRDF find it difficult to operate. In July 2014, opposition members—two from Unity for Democracy Party, one from the Arena Tigray Party, and one from the Blue Party—were arrested without charges and held without access to legal representation. The Ethiopian government denies the arrests were related to 2015 elections, but the detainments follow the government’s pattern of suppressing political dissent prior to popular votes.

A series of December 2014 rallies by a coalition of opposition parties saw nearly 100 people arrested, including the chairman of the Semayawi Party. Witnesses report that police beat protesters, though nearly all those arrested were released on bail within a week.

Political parties in Ethiopia are often ethnically based. The EPRDF coalition is comprised of four political parties and represents several ethnic groups. The government tends to favor Tigrayan ethnic interests in economic and political matters, and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front dominates the EPRDF. While the 1995 constitution grants the right of secession to ethnically based states, the government acquired powers in 2003 to intervene in states’ affairs on issues of public security. Secessionist movements in Oromia and the Ogaden have largely failed after being put down by the military.

C. Functioning of Government: 4 / 12

Ethiopia’s governance institutions are dominated by the EPRDF, which controlled the succession process following the death of longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012.

Corruption remains a significant problem in Ethiopia. EPRDF officials reportedly receive preferential access to credit, land leases, and jobs. Petty corruption extends to lower-level officials, who solicit bribes in return for processing documents. In 2013, the government attempted to demonstrate its commitment to fighting corruption after the release of a World Bank study that detailed corruption in the country. As part of the effort, the Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission made a string of high-profile arrests of prominent government officials and businessmen throughout 2013 and 2014. The Federal High Court sentenced many corrupt officials in 2014, including in one case a $2,500 fine and 16 years in prison. Despite cursory legislative improvements, however, enforcement of corruption-related laws remains lax in practice and Ethiopia is still considered “highly corrupt,” ranked 110 out of 175 countries and territories by Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Civil Liberties: 11 / 40

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 3 / 16

Ethiopia’s media are dominated by state-owned broadcasters and government-oriented newspapers. Privately owned papers tend to steer clear of political issues and have low circulation. A 2008 media law criminalizes defamation and allows prosecutors to seize material before publication in the name of national security.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ethiopia holds at least 17 journalists behind bars—the second-highest number of jailed journalists in Africa as of December 2014, after Eritrea. Restrictions are particularly tight on journalists perceived to be sympathetic to protests by the Muslim community, and journalists attempting to cover them are routinely detained or arrested. Those reporting on opposition activities also face harassment and the threat of prosecution under Ethiopia’s sweeping 2009 Antiterrorism Proclamation. At least 14 journalists have been convicted under Ethiopia’s antiterror law since 2011, and none convicted have been released.

In April 2014, police arrested nine journalists—six associated with the Zone9 blogging collective and three freelancers—and charged them with terror-related offenses. Their trial has been postponed 13 times and was closed to the public until recently; their defense lawyer claims the defendants were forced to sign false confessions while in prison.

In June, the government fired 18 people from a state-run, Oromia-based broadcaster, silencing the outlet’s reporting on Oromo protests. In August, the government charged six Addis Ababa–based publications with terrorism offenses, effectively shuttering some of the last independent news outlets inside Ethiopia. In October, three publication owners were convicted in absentia after they fled the country. The same month, Temesgen Desalegn, former editor of the weekly Feteh, was convicted under Ethiopia’s criminal code on defamation and incitement charges and sentenced to three years in prison.

Due to the risks of operating inside the country, many Ethiopian journalists work in exile. CPJ says Ethiopia drove 30 journalists into exile in 2014, a sharp increase over both 2012 and 2013. Authorities use high-tech jamming equipment to filter and block news websites seen as pro-opposition. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), since 2010 the Ethiopian government has developed a robust and sophisticated internet and mobile framework to monitor journalists and opposition groups, block access to unwanted websites or critical television and radio programs, and collect evidence for prosecutions in politically motivated trials.

The constitution guarantees religious freedom, but the government has increasingly harassed the Muslim community, which has grown to rival the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as the country’s largest religious group. Muslim groups accuse the government of trying to impose the beliefs of an obscure Islamic sect, Al-Ahbash, at the expense of the dominant Sufi-influenced strain of Islam. A series of protests against perceived government interference in religious affairs since 2012 have ended in a number of deaths and more than 1,000 arrests.

Academic freedom is often restricted in Ethiopia. The government has accused universities of being pro-opposition and prohibits political activities on campuses. There are reports of students being pressured into joining the EPRDF in order to secure employment or places at universities; professors are similarly pressured in order to ensure favorable positions or promotions. The Ministry of Education closely monitors and regulates official curricula, and the research, speech, and assembly of both professors and students are frequently restricted. In 2014, the Scholars at Risk network catalogued three incidents in academia, including the jailing or firing of professors who expressed antigovernment opinions.

The presence of the EPRDF at all levels of society—directly and, increasingly, electronically—inhibits free private discussion. Many people are wary of speaking against the government. The EPRDF maintains a network of paid informants, and opposition politicians have accused the government of tapping their phones.

E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 0 / 12

Freedoms of assembly and association are guaranteed by the constitution but limited in practice. Organizers of large public meetings must request permission from the authorities 48 hours in advance. Applications by opposition groups are routinely denied and, in cases when approved, organizers are subject to government meddling to move dates or locations. Since 2011, ongoing peaceful demonstrations held by members of the Muslim community have been met with violent responses from security forces. Protesters allege government interference in religious affairs and politically motivated selection of members of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council. Though momentum has slowed, protests continue.

After the government announced an expansion of Addis Ababa’s city limits into the Oromia Regional State in April 2014, thousands of Ethiopians took to the streets. Witnesses reported that police fired on peaceful protesters, killing at least 17—most of whom were students in nearby universities—and detained hundreds.

The 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation restricts the activities of foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) by prohibiting work on political and human rights issues. Foreign NGOs are defined as groups receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad, a classification that includes most domestic organizations as well. The law also limits the amount of money any NGO can spend on “administration,” a controversial category that the government has declared includes activities such as teacher or health worker training, further restricting NGO operations even on strictly development projects. NGOs have struggled to maintain operations as a result of the law.

Trade union rights are tightly restricted. Neither civil servants nor teachers have collective bargaining rights. All unions must be registered, and the government retains the authority to cancel registration. Two-thirds of union members belong to organizations affiliated with the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, which is under government influence. Independent unions face harassment, and trade union leaders are regularly imprisoned. There has not been a legal strike since 1993.

F. Rule of Law: 3 / 16

The judiciary is officially independent, but its judgments rarely deviate from government policy. The 2009 antiterrorism law gives great discretion to security forces, allowing the detention of suspects for up to four months without charge. After August 2013 demonstrations to protest the government’s crackdown on Muslims, 29 demonstration leaders were charged under the antiterrorism law with conspiracy and attempting to establish an Islamic state; their trial remains ongoing. Trial proceedings have been closed to the public, media, and the individuals’ families. According to HRW, some defendants claimed that their access to legal counsel has been restricted.

Conditions in Ethiopia’s prisons are harsh, and detainees frequently report abuse. A 2013 HRW report documented human rights violations in Addis Ababa’s Maekelawi police station, including verbal and physical abuse, denial of basic needs, and torture.

Yemen’s June 2014 arrest and extradition of British citizen Andargachew Tsige to Ethiopia at the government’s request has sparked outrage from human rights groups. Andargachew is the secretary-general of banned opposition group Ginbot 7 and was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 and again in 2012 for allegedly plotting to kill government officials. Reports suggest that police have denied the British Embassy consular access.

Domestic NGOs say that Ethiopia held as many as 400 political prisoners in 2012, though estimates vary significantly. Nuredine “Aslan” Hasan, a student belonging to the Oromo ethnic group, died in prison in 2014; conflicting reports about the cause of his death—including torture—have not been verified.

The federal government generally has strong control and direction over the military, though forces such as the Liyu Police in the Ogaden territory sometimes operate independently.

Repression of the Oromo and ethnic Somalis, and government attempts to coopt their parties into subsidiaries of the EPRDF, have fueled nationalism in both the Oromia and Ogaden regions. Persistent claims that government troops in the Ogaden area have committed war crimes are difficult to verify, as independent media are barred from the region. The government’s announcement of its intention to expand Addis Ababa’s city limits into the Oromia Regional State exacerbates tensions over historical marginalization of Oromia; according to activists, the expansion will displace two million Oromo farmers.

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited by law and punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 5 / 16

While Ethiopia’s constitution establishes freedom of movement, insecurity—particularly in eastern Ethiopia—prevents unrestricted movement into affected sites.

Private business opportunities are limited by rigid state control of economic life and the prevalence of state-owned enterprises. All land must be leased from the state. The government has evicted indigenous groups from various areas to make way for projects such as hydroelectric dams. It has also leased large tracts of land to foreign governments and investors for agricultural development in opaque deals that have displaced thousands of Ethiopians. Up to 70,000 people have been forced to move from the western Gambella region, although the government denies the resettlement plans are connected to land investments. Similar evictions have taken place in Lower Omo Valley, where government-run sugar plantations have put thousands of pastoralists at risk by diverting their water supplies. Journalists and international organizations have persistently alleged that the government withholds development assistance from villages perceived as being unfriendly to the ruling party.

Women are relatively well represented in parliament, holding 28 percent of seats and three ministerial posts. Legislation protects women’s rights, but these rights are routinely violated in practice. Enforcement of the law against rape and domestic abuse is patchy, and cases routinely stall in the courts. Female genital mutilation and forced child marriage are technically illegal, though there has been little effort to prosecute perpetrators. In December 2012, the government made progress against forced child labor, passing a National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor and updating its list of problematic occupations for children.

Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year


Suffocating Dissent: Gagging the Media in Ethiopia February 15, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Suffocating Dissent: Gagging the Media in Ethiopia

 13 February  2015  by Graham Peebles, Truthout | Op-Ed

Suffocating Dissent(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Nobody trusts politicians, but some governments are more despicable than others. The brutal gang ruling Ethiopia is especially nasty. They claim to govern in a democratic, pluralistic manner; they say they observe human rights and the rule of law, that the judiciary is independent, the media open and free, and public assembly permitted as laid out in the constitution. But the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) systematically violates fundamental human rights, silences all dissenting voices and rules the country in a suppressive, violent fashion that is causing untold suffering to millions of people throughout the country.

There is no freedom of the press: Journalists are persecuted, intimidated and arrested on false charges, so too their families. All significant media outlets and print companies are state-owned or controlled, as is the sole telecommunications company – allowing for unfettered government monitoring and control of the internet. Radio is almost exclusively state-owned and, with adult literacy at around 48 percent, remains the major source of information. Where private media has survived, they are forced to self-censor their coverage of political issues: If they deviate from “approved content,” they face harassment and closure.

In many cases, journalists are forced to leave the country, and some are illegally tried in absentia and given long prison sentences or the death penalty. Human Rights Watch (HRW) states in its detailed report “Journalism Is Not a Crime,” that Ethiopia has more journalists in exile than “any country in the world other than Iran,” and estimates, “60 journalists have fled their country since 2010 while at least another 19 languish in prison.” More than 30 left in 2014, twice the number escaping in 2013 and 2012 combined, and numerous publications were closed down, revealing that the media situation and freedom of expression more widely are becoming more and more restrictive. “If they cannot indoctrinate you into their thinking, they fire you,” said a dismissed journalist from state-run Oromia Radio, summing up the approach of the ruling party to press freedom and indeed democracy as a whole.

With upcoming elections in May, the media should be allowed to perform its democratic responsibility – revealing policies and the incumbent regime’s abuses, providing a platform for opposition groups and encouraging debate. However, the guilt-ridden EPRDF government, desperate to keep a lid on the human rights violations it is committing, sees the independent media as the enemy, and denies it the freedom, guaranteed under the constitution, to operate freely.

Tools of Control

Soon after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, President George W. Bush made his now notorious speech in which he reaffirmed Ronald Reagan’s 1981 declaration to initiate a worldwide “war on terror,” against terrorism and nations that “provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.” Bush’s understandable if hypocritical political statement of intent allowed regimes perpetrating terror like the EPRDF to impose ever more repressive laws under the guise of “fighting terrorism” and “containing extremism.”

A year before the 2010 Ethiopian general election, the government introduced a raft of unconstitutional legislation to control the media, stifle opposition parties and inhibit civil society: The Charities and Societies Proclamation introduced in 2009 decimated independent civil society, and created, Amnesty International says, “a serious obstacle to the promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia.” It sits alongside the equally unjust Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) of the same year, which is the sledgehammer commonly used to suppress dissent and silence critical media voices both inside the country, abroad and on the internet. Overly broad and awash with ambiguity, the ATP allows for long-term imprisonment and the death penalty for so-called crimes that meet the government’s vague definition of terrorism, and allows evidence gained through torture to be admissible in court, which contravenes the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by Ethiopia in 1994. In 2012, the government added the Telecom Fraud Offenses Proclamation to its arsenal of repression, criminalizing “the use of popular voice over IP (VoIP) communications software such as Skype for commercial purposes or to bypass the monopoly of state-owned Ethio-Telecom.” Eight years imprisonment and large fines are imposed if anyone is convicted of “using the telecommunications network to disseminate a ‘terrorizing message'” – whatever that may be.

The anti-terror legislation violates international law and has been repeatedlycondemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In addition, in September 2014, a group of UN human rights experts urged the ruling party “to stop misusing anti-terrorism legislation to curb freedoms of expression and association in the country.” The eminent group went on to call upon the government “to free all persons detained arbitrarily under the pretext of countering terrorism,” and “let journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and religious leaders carry out their legitimate work without fear of intimidation and incarceration.” Their visit followed one made by members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights who visited Ethiopia in July 2013 when they pressured the government to release journalists and opposition activists imprisoned under the ATP.

Wrapped in arrogance and paranoia, the EPRDF disregarded these righteous demands as well as requests to allow a visit by the “Special Rapporteurs on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” to visit the country and report “on the situation of human rights defenders.” No doubt, the people of Ethiopia would welcome such a visit; one questions the protocol that allows regimes like the EPRDF the right to deny such a request.

Keep Quiet

The ATP has been widely used to punish troublesome journalists who criticize the government or publish articles featuring opposition members and regional groups calling for self-determination. Anyone who challenges the EPRDF’s policies or draws attention to the human rights violations taking place throughout the country are branded with the T word, intimidated and silenced.

The two most prominent journalists to be imprisoned are award-winning Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu Gobebo. Arrested at least seven times, Nega is currently serving an 18-year sentence for doing nothing more than calling on the government to respect freedom of expression laws enshrined in the constitution (that the EPRDF themselves penned), and end torture in the country’s prisons. Reeyot Gobebo, winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, is currently serving a five-year jail term (commuted from 14 years after two of the charges were dropped on appeal), after being charged with a variety of unfounded, unsubstantiated terrorist related charges. These two courageous professionals, HRW relates, have “come to symbolize the plight of dozens more media professionals, both known and unidentified, in Addis Ababa and in rural regions, who have suffered threats, intimidation, sometimes physical abuse, and politically motivated prosecutions under criminal or terrorism charges.” When an article critical of the government is published, writers or editors receive threatening phone calls and text messages (emails in my case) from government stooges. If publications and broadcasters persist in publishing such pieces, they suffer persecution, arrest and imprisonment.

The EPRDF’s paranoid desire to control everything and everybody inside Ethiopia is not restricted to the national media alone. Voice of America (VoA) and Deutsche Welle (DW), which both have a presence in Addis Ababa, are routinely targeted by the government, as is ESAT TV, a shining light of independent broadcasting in Amharic from the United States and Europe. Their satellite transmissions are regularly jammed, and their staff and family members threatened and harassed; on January 11, 2015, the wife of Wondimagegne Gashu, a British citizen, long-time human rights activist and ESAT worker, was violently detained with her three young children for two days inside Addis Ababa airport. Before the family was deported, security personnel threatened to kill her husband if he continues his associations.

The government also restricts access to numerous websites, including independent news, opposition parties and groups defined by the government as terrorist organizations and political blogs. The required technology and expertise to carry out such criminal acts is supplied by unscrupulous companies from China and Europe – companies that should “assess [the] human rights risks raised by potential business activity, including risk posed to the rights of freedom of expression, access to information, association, and privacy.” In other words: behave in a responsible, ethical manner.

State Terrorism

Freedom of the media and freedom of expression sit alongside other democratic principles, like an independent judiciary, consensual governance, participation and freedom of assembly. Where these basic tenets are absent, so too is democracy. If the state systematically crushes independent media and commits widespread human rights violations, as in Ethiopia, we see not a democratic government, but a brutal dictatorship committing acts of state terrorism.

In HRW’s damning report on media freedoms within the country, a series of commonsense recommendations are made that should be immediately enforced. Chief among these are that all journalists currently imprisoned be released; that the government immediately cease jamming radio and television stations and unblock all websites of political parties, media and bloggers; that all harassment of individuals exercising their right to freedom of expression stop and that the regime repeal or amend all laws that infringe upon privacy rights.

By essentially banning independent media and making freedom of expression a criminal offense, the Ethiopian government is in gross violation of its own legally binding constitution as well as a raft of international covenants. All of which seems not to concern the ruling party, which treats international law with the same indifference it applies to the Ethiopian people. Pressure then needs to be applied by those nations with longstanding relationships with Ethiopia: the United States and Britain come to mind as the two nations that have the biggest investment in the country and whose gross negligence borders on complicity. As major donor nations, they have a moral responsibility to act on behalf of the people, to insist on the observance of human rights and the rule of law, and to hold the EPRDF regime accountable for its repressive criminal actions.


Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Ethiopian Intelligence Network: Who is behind the growth? #Africa February 14, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, The Ethiopian government’s systematic repression of independent media.
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Ethiopian Intelligence Network: Who is behind the growth?

14 February 2015 ( New Delhi Times Bureau) Ethiopia is a low income country with a population of just under 92 million people. The country has since 1991 been under one party rule of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Dissidents who use the internet to criticise the one party rule have been accused of promoting terrorism and have been subjected to strict surveillance. According to Human Rights Watch, the increasing technological ability of Ethiopians to communicate, express their views, and organise, is viewed less as a social benefit and more as a political threat for the ruling party, which depends upon invasive monitoring and surveillance to maintain control of its population. Ethiopia regularly blocks websites, undertakes surveillance of websites and social media, and charges journalists over content published offline and online.
The country’s laws provide for legal sanctions against individuals for content they publish online, or the ‘illegal use’ of telecoms services. Such charges have often been framed as ‘promoting terrorism’, which can attract a 20 year jail term. Thus, the country has been creating a speedily expanding, state-of-the-art surveillance state, with tacit Western back up.
Rumors of the extent of Ethiopia’s digital surveillance and censorship state have echoed around the information security community for years. Journalists have spoken of being shown text messages, printouts of emails, and recordings of their own telephone conversations by the Ethiopian security services. From within the country, commentators connected growing telecommunications surveillance to the increasing presence of East telecommunications company ZTE.
On the external front, analysis of the targeted surveillance of exiled Ethiopians has turned up surveillance software built and sold by Western companies, such as FinFisher and Hacking Team. Observers of the country’s national Internet censorship have reported keyword filtering of websites and blocking of Tor nodes that reveal a sophisticated national firewall conducting deep packet inspection. Ethiopia’s position as an American ally also gives it the opportunity to purchase technology made in the West to carry out its campaigns of censorship and surveillance. Ethiopia has also bolstered its surveillance capabilities with drones built by Israeli company Bluebird Systems.
However, it is widely believed that Ethiopians have not developed the surveillance network using the available resources in the country. Indeed it is even futile to think that a third world country like it, which does not have enough resources to feed its poverty stricken population will invest heavily in surveillance technology.
There are many who believe that West is funding such programs. However, on a more detailed look, it looks as if East technology is behind the program.
Screenshots of extra fields on ZTE’s ZSmart customer relations management tool appear to show that Ethiopia’s telco administrators can check customers against a “blacklist,” and digitally record calls with the press of a single button.
These features could simply be a result of Ethiopia’s censorship team quickly adopting new techniques — or it could mean that Ethiopia is one of the few countries that benefits from the direct export of Great Firewall technology. In the case of Ethiopia, there have been reports that East is training the surveillance team for as period of six months and then using it for own proxy intelligence. Whether or not the activities of such companies represent cybersecurity concerns – these rapid changes in Africa’s media and telecommunications sphere are an overlooked and illustrative example of the impacts and influences of a rising East, which warrant greater study and attention from policymakers and civil society in Africa and elsewhere, in particular those who are keen to ensure both increased cooperation and connectivity and free and secure communications among citizens.


Internet and its enemies: 36 out of 65 assessed countries show decline in internet freedom, 41 passed or proposed new laws to curb It. #Ethiopia. #Africa January 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, Internet Freedom.
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January 6, 2015 (Dazeinfo) — Amid all those talks of an overwhelmingly large majority of people (83%) wanting to make the right to access the internet at affordable prices a basic human right, most of us do not bother to look beyond getting connected to the net. Without undermining the importance of being connected to the internet, there is no doubting the need to ensure freedom over the internet.

Sadly enough, internet freedom has fallen for the fourth consecutive year in wake of more and more countries introducing belligerent and often offensive online censorship measures while others tightened the noose and made their existing measures in regard to the same more rigorous.

The fifth annual Freedom on the Net 2014 report released by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization, tracks the developments between May 2013 and May 2014 and observed that out of the 65 assessed countries, 36 have shown a negative trajectory in 2014.

Key Findings of the Freedom on the Net 2014 Report

It has been observed that an increasing number of countries are now giving legal sanction to laws that curb internet freedom, in total contrast with the previous government policy of controlling the internet using invisible strings.

Expressing dissent with the government policy or not toeing their line in the online space can invite legal action now, due to which more and more individuals and media outlets are under pressure to either censor their online behavior or face legal action and, in extreme cases, even arrest.

That is in addition to blocking and filtering of content which are among the most common means of online censorship. Imprisoning those who put up ‘undesirable’ content is being seen by governments as a deterrent and, according to them, encourages self-censorship.



At the same time, the use of physical violence against internet users ‘appears to have decreased in scope,’ says the report.

Of the 65 countries being assessed, 36 showed a decline in the degree of Internet freedom since May 2013.
Five countries with the most and least internet freedom were depicted in the form of a chart by the online statistics portal, Statista:

Iran, Syria and China were confirmed as the worst abusers of internet freedom in the world- a dubious honor for them! Countries wishing to impose more restrictions (like Iran, Belarus and Uzbekistan) often cite China as an example!
Iceland was ranked as the country with the highest degree of internet freedom. Five more countries which were appreciated in this regard are Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany and the United States.
41 countries passed or proposed new laws to penalize expressing of views over the internet, to increase the surveillance capabilities of the governments or to increase the powers of the government to control the content which get published online.
Very few countries recorded an improvement in the degree of freedom over the internet.
India and Brazil were among those few nations where some curbs were taken off. Belarus also eased some restrictions.
Concern was shown over both democratic and authoritarian governments seeking to curb the freedom of the internet.
Penalty for online expression in some countries is worse than for similar expression off the internet.
19 countries passed new laws to increase surveillance or to restrict user anonymity.
The number of people detained or prosecuted for their online behavior touched a record high, surpassing all previous figures.
Among those prosecuted, online journalists and bloggers covering anti-government demonstrations were among the prime targets.
Women all over the world “face immense cultural and socio-economic barriers to ICT access, resulting in significant gender gap in ICT use.
The LGBTI community also faces great threats and harassment over the internet.
With more and more internet users beginning to guard their online privacy, “malware attacks against government critics and human rights organizations have evolved to take on a more personalized character.”
Shocking Instances of Curbs on Internet Freedom across the World!

There have been many instances of internet freedom being curbed all over the world. And it is not only surprising but also shocking that even the so-called ‘democratic’ countries have not been liberal with their internet access policy. Some incidents which sent shock waves across everyone’s spines during the period covered by the report are:

The Russian government enacted a law to crack down on all online media which criticized the Vladimir Putin’s policy toward Kremlin without any judicial oversight. Three major news sites were blocked within six weeks as a result of this law.
One of the worst offenders, Iran, does not allow its citizens to access social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Those promoting Sufism online were made to serve long prison sentences. Six Iranians who recorded a video of them dancing to Pharrell’s song “Happy” and posted it on YouTube (the video later went viral) were punished with 91 lashes each and six months of imprisonment. The director was ‘awarded’ a full year.
A new law in Ethiopia allows the government to snoop into computers, networks, internet sites, social media platforms, television and radio stations “for any possible damage to the country’s social, economic, political and psychological well-being”, citing that blogs, social media sites and other digital media have the potential to “instigate war, to damage the country’s image and create havoc in the economic atmosphere of the country.”
Governments in Turkey, Thailand, Russia, Kazakhstan and Italy allow agencies controlled by them to block content with no judicial oversight and with little or no transparency at all.
Uzbekistan passed a law requiring owners of cybercafés to record browsing history of customers for three months.
The draconian ‘bloggers law’ passed by the Russian government in May 2014 increased government surveillance of social media users by making it mandatory for anyone having sites or pages which draw more than 3,000 daily views to register with the telecommunications regulator.
A blogger in Ethiopia was sentenced to an 18 year term while six more await a trial for expressing dissent over government policies or actions over the internet.
News site editors in Azerbaijan were arrested and implicated under charges of hooliganism or drug possession.
Kavita Krishnan, a women’s rights activist in India, was harassed online by someone using the handle @RAPIST.
Mukhlif al-Shammari who posted a YouTube video about mistreatment of females in Saudi Arabia was jailed for five years.
Egyptian government used an application called Grindr to track and prosecute men belonging to the homosexual community. Russian and Ugandan governments also usedonline tools and malware to lure people belonging to this community and then harassed them.
In June 2013, a woman in Pakistan was stoned to death by local men after she was found guilty of possessing a mobile phone by the tribal court!
Iceland, which boasts of a 97% internet access, has no restrictions over the use of social sites and the government does not block any content was presented as a noteworthy example.

Sanja Kelly, Freedom House’s project director for Freedom on the Net, explained that governments are finding new and less detectable manners to control free speech online

“As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier – but no less dangerous – methods for controlling online conversations”, says Sanjay.

Though it is important to ensure that the internet becomes accessible for a larger number of people, mere access to it will be no good if the government makes it an additional channel for snooping over its citizens or the users are threatened, harassed, discredited, punished or imprisoned for not bowing to the rulers’ diktats.

Read more @ http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/36-out-of-65-assessed-countries-show-decline-in-internet-freedom-41-passed-or-proposed-new-laws-to-curb-it/

The Ethio Com, TPLF run parastatal, rated by ITU as the Least Service Provider and stands 162nd out of 166 surveyed countries, based on mobile phone and internet use December 18, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Internet Censorship, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, Tweets and Africa.
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the International Tale communication Union (ITU)  rates Ethio Telecom as the Least Service Provider. The report in Information and Communication Technology Development Index (IDI) on October 24, 2014 shows that Ethiopia stands 162nd out of 166 surveyed countries, based on mobile phone and internet use. Among the major criteria that the ITU uses to rank countries are ICT intensity and usage level, and ICT capability or skills. see  http://www.itu.int/en/newsroom/Pages/wtis14-mis-images.aspx

Denmark ranked Number One in ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI)*, a composite measurement that ranks 166 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills. It is followed by the Republic of Korea. The IDI top 30-ranking include countries from Europe and high-income nations from other regions including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. In terms of regional comparisons, Europe’s average IDI value of 7.14 remains well ahead of the next best-performing region, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS – 5.33), followed by the Americas (4.86), Asia & the Pacific (4.57), the Arab States (4.55), and Africa at 2.31. The CIS and the Arab States showed the highest improvement in regional IDI averages over the past 12 months.

Ethiopia in ITU



Rather than providing  market based quality services to the public, the Ethiopian government is using control of its telecom system as a tool to silence dissenting voices.The TPLF run  governmen tis using Chinese and European technology to survey phone calls and Internet activity in Ethiopia and among the diaspora living overseas . http://www.thenational.ae/world/africa/ethiopia-is-spying-on-its-citizens-with-foreign-tech


Ethiopia is one of 10 least connected in the digital world in mobile phone and internet use. #Africa November 27, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in 25 killer Websites that make you cleverer, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Facebook and Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, The 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Global Innovation Index, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia, Tweets and Africa.
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Denmark, Korea And Sweden are the world’s most digitally connected countries while Ethiopia is one of 10 least connected







November 26, 2014 (The Telegraph) — Denmark has been named the world’s “most connected” country based on mobile phone and internet use.

Scandinavia dominated this year’s rankings, with Sweden in third place, followed by Iceland in fourth, Norway sixth and Finland eighth. Britain came fifth.

They were compiled as part of a report by the International Telecommunication Union – theInformation and Communication Technology Development Index (IDI), which rates 166 countries according to their level of access to, use of and skills in using information and communication technology.

Hong Kong was the ninth most connected country, coming in ahead of Japan in 11th place, while Luxembourg completed the top 10.

Other countries in the top 30 included the US (which ranked 14th), Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, France, New Zealand, Estonia and Macau, as well the principalities of Andorra and Monaco.

The 10 least connected countries were all in Africa, with the Central African Republic being the worst, followed by Niger, Chad, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

All countries were shown to have improved their IDI values in the last year, while the nations with the “most dynamic” improvement in ranking included the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Georgia. Improvements were said to have been driven mostly by better wireless broadband connection.

Europe proved to be the most connected region, scooping up eight of the top 10 rankings, while Africa had the lowest regional ranking. The continent, however, did show a mobile broadband growth rate of more than 40 per cent in 2014 on last year.

Nearly three billion people globally will be using the internet by the end of this year, up by nearly 40 per cent on last year. But 450 million people still don’t live within reach of a mobile signal, while 4.3 billion people are not connected to the internet – with 90 per cent of those living in developing countries, the report said.

Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel’s technology expert Donald Strachan outlined the “world’s Wi-Fi-friendliest cities”, featuring various countries from the top 40 of this year’s IDI report.

Connecting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki is password-free and easy thanks to a network of hotspots in public buildings, civic squares and even on some buses and trams around the city.

Hong Kong, “one of the world’s most futuristic cities”, was said to be generous with free internet access in public areas. There are several free Wi-Fi networks, the key ones being GovWiFi (at parks, libraries, public buildings, ferry terminals and more) and MTR WiFi, which provides 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi per device up to five times every day at MTR stations.

Taipei offers 30 days of free access to a national, government-backed network of over 5,000 hotpsots. Hundreds of these free iTaiwan hotspots are available throughout the Taiwanese capital.

Macau was noted for its WiFiGo service which offers free internet for visitors every day between 8am and 1am. The network has around 150 hotspots, meaning there’s usually Wi-Fi close by, including at ports, museums and tourist information centres.

Other major cities with free public Wi-Fi access include New York, Paris and Perth, Australia, as well as Florence and Tel Aviv, which has eighty hotspots dotted around its centre.

Access to free Wi-Fi has been an increasingly important factor for travellers around the world, especially when booking a hotel. Britain’s hotels were found to be among the worst in Europe for free Wi-Fi access, while the two best performing cities were both Swedish – Malmö and Gothenburg, where 98 per cent and 96 per cent of hotels were found to offer free Wi-Fi, a survey by the travel search engine KAYAK earlier this year revealed.

A new website aiming to help travellers in the search for free and fast wireless internet access was introduced earlier this year.Hotewifitest.com lets hotel guests test the speed of their internet connection, and then stores the results for others to view. It also records whether the Wi-Fi is free or comes at a price.

Several airports around the world also offer free Wi-Fi services, with Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas being among the best, providing free Wi-Fi in all five of its terminals since 2012. Since upgrading its former paid network, the number of daily Wi-Fi connections has risen from 2,000 to 55,000. Helsinki Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol complete the world’s top five for airport Wi-Fi quality.

Earlier this year, Britain’s biggest airports have been criticised for failing to provide passengers with unlimited Wi-Fi access.

None of Britain’s six busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton – offer unlimited free internet access, according to a study by Skyscanner, the flight comparison website.

Source: The Telegraph






Ethiopia Ranks 47th in Mo Ibrahim 2014 Governance Index Human Rights category October 1, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Corruption, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, The 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Uncategorized.
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Ethiopia has been  ranked 47th out of 52 countries in Africa by the Mo Ibrahim 2014 governance index on Human Rights.  Ethiopia’s score in this category is 28.8/100.  Ethiopia (28.8), CAR (27.9), Gambia (26.2), Equatorial Guinea (10.5), Eritrea (8.6) and Somalia (7.3) are  the worst performing in this category. Ethiopia has been one of the most deteriorating trend for the  last five years with score for change of -6.3. Top 5 performing countries in this category are: Cabo Verde (84.4), Mauritius (81.7), Ghana (78.1), Senegal (74.7),  Namibia (73.3). Average African score for human rights category has been 49.4. The 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, launched on  29 September 2014.

  See Chart @http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/interact/#phr;root

In accountability which includes corruption in government and public officials, Ethiopia has  scored 38.9  and has been ranked 25th with deteriorating trends. The highest performing Botswana has scored 77.3. The average for all Africa is 38.9. See Chart @http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/interact/#srl;root

Ethiopia ranks 32nd in over all Ibrahim Index of  2014 African Governance with score of  48.5/100. The top 5 scorers are Mauritius (81.7), Cabo Verde (76.6), Botswana (76.2),  South Africa (73.3) and Seychelles (73.2).

According to the Index,  governance is defined as:

“The provision of the political, social and economic goods that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.”

The foundation conducts its assessments with four main conceptual categories: Safety & rule of law,  participation and human rights,  sustainable economic opportunity and human development.

Read related analysis on the report @The Ibrahim Index and Africa’s new numbers: http://africanarguments.org/2014/10/01/africas-new-numbers-revealing-and-intriguing-by-richard-dowden/

Ethiopia: Prevalence of undernourishment &the state of food insecurity (in 2012-2014 FAO World Report) September 21, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa and debt, Africa Rising, African Poor, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Food Production, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia, Poverty, The extents and dimensions of poverty in Ethiopia, The Global Innovation Index, The State of Food Insecurity in Ethiopia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, US-Africa Summit, Youth Unemployment.
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The absolute number of hungry people—which takes into account both progress against hunger and population growth—fell in most regions. The exceptions were Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and West Asia.



The 2014  FAO’s report which is published in September  indicates that while Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst of all regions in prevalence of undernourishment and  food insecurity, Ethiopia (ranking no.1) is the worst of all African countries as 32 .9 million people are suffering from chronic undernourishment and food insecurity. Which means Ethiopia  has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world, in which more than 35%  of its total population is chronically undernourished.

Ethiopia  is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 173 of the 187 countries in the 2013 Human Development Index.See @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index



FAO in its key findings reports that:  overall, the results confirm that developing countries have made significant progress in improving food security and nutrition, but that progress has been uneven across both regions and food security dimensions. Food availability remains a major element of food insecurity in the poorer regions of the world, notably sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southern Asia, where progress has been relatively limited. Access to food has improved fast and significantly in countries that have experienced rapid overall economic progress, notably in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.Access has also improved in Southern Asia and Latin America, but only in countries with adequate safety nets and other forms of social protection. By contrast, access is still a challenge in Sub Saharan Africa, where income growth has been sluggish, poverty rates have remained high  and rural infrastructure remains limited and has often deteriorated.


According to the new report, many developing countries have made significant progress in improving food security and nutrition, but this progress has been uneven across both regions and dimensions of food security. Large  challenges remain in the area of food utilization. Despite considerable improvements over the last two decades, stunting, underweight and micronutrient deficiencies remain stubbornly high, even where availability and access no longer pose problems. At the same time, access to food remains an important challenge for many developing countries, even if significant progress has been made over the last two decades, due to income growth and poverty reduction in many countries.Food availability has also improved considerably over the past two decades, with more food available than ever and international food price volatility before. This increase is reflected in the improved adequacy of dietary energy and higher average supplies of protein. Of the four dimensions, the least progress has been made in stability, reflecting the effects of growing political instability.Overall, the analyses reveal positive trends, but it also masks important divergences across various sub- regions. The  two sub- regions that have made the least headway are sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, with almost all indicators still pointing to low levels of food security.On the other hand, Eastern (including South Eastern) Asia and Latin America have made the most progress in improving food security, with Eastern Asia experiencing rapid progress on all four dimensions over the past two decades.The greatest food security challenges overall remain in sub-Saharan Africa, which has seen particularly slow progress in improving access to food, with sluggish income growth, high poverty rates and poor infrastructure, which hampers physical and distributional access. Food availability remains low, even though energy and protein supplies have improved. Food utilization remains a major concern, as indicated by the high anthropometric prevalence of stunted and underweight children under five years of age. Limited progress has been made in improving access to safe drinking-water and providing adequate sanitation facilities, while the region continues to face challenges in improving dietary quality and diversity, particularly for the poor. The stability of food supplies has deteriorated, mainly owing to political instability, war and civil strife.



Prevalence of undernourishment in Africa/ #Ethiopia

Summary of Africa Scorecard on Number of People in State of Undernourishment / Hunger Country Name  and Number of People in State of Undernourishment / Hunger (2012-2014, Millions):- 

1st  Ethiopia  ( 32.9 million)

2nd Tanzania (17.0)

3 Nigeria (11.2)

4 Kenya (10.8)

5 Uganda (9.7)

6 Mozambique (7.2)

7 Zambia (7.0)

8 Madagascar (7.0)

9 Chad (4.5)

10 Zimbabwe (4.5)

11 Rwanda (4.0)

12 Angola (3.9)

13 Malawi (3.6)

14 Burkina Faso (3.5)

15 Ivory Coast (3.0)

16 Senegal (2.4)

17 Cameroon (2.3)

18 Guinea (2.1)

19 Algeria (2.1)

20 Niger 2.0

21 Central Africa Republic (1.7)

22 Sierra Leone (1.6)

23 Morocco (1.5)

24 Benin (1.0)

25 Togo (1.0)

26 Namibia (.9)

27 Botswana (.05)

28 Guinea Bissau (.03)

29 Swaziland (.03)

30 Djibouti (.02)

31. Lesotho (.02)

Data for South Africa, Sao Tome and Principal, Gabon,  Ghana, Mali, Tunisia, Mauritius and Egypt indicate that Prevalence of undernourishment is insignificant or under .01 million. There are no reported data for  some countries such as Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Burundi and Gambia.

Read  more @ The State of Food Insecurity in the World Strengthening the enabling environment
for food security and nutrition http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4030e.pdf



Ethiopia’s capital flight is estimated at US$24.9 billion or 83.8% of the GDP August 18, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa and debt, Africa Rising, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The extents and dimensions of poverty in Ethiopia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Tyranny, UK Aid Should Respect Rights, US-Africa Summit.
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The term capital flight has been given many interpretations in the economic literature and in the  press, leading to confusion and misinterpretations. In the popular press, capital flight is presented as illegal or illicit financial flows. It is housed in the same domain as money laundering, tax  evasion, transfer pricing, underground trafficking. Yet, while these activities are illicit, not all of  them amount to capital flight. At the same time, while most capital flight may be deemed illicit. Capital flight may be illicit in one of three ways: when it consists of money acquired illegally and transferred  abroad; when funds are transferred abroad illicitly by violating capital account regulations; when capital is hidden abroad and therefore not being subject to taxation and other government regulations. It is not possible to make this determination a priori from the data that is used to calculate capital flight, which involves a reconciliation of recorded capital inflows (mainly external borrowing and foreign direct investment) and the use of these resources (to cover the current account deficit and accumulation of reserves). The term capital flight means capital flows from a country that are not recorded in the country’s Balance of Payments (BoP). If all the ransactions were correctly and systematically recorded, inflows would balance out with outflows, except for small and random statistical errors as recorded in the ‘net errors and omissions’ line of the BoP. Where large discrepancies are observed, in other words, where there is  substantial ‘missing money’ in the BoP, this is taken as an indication of the presence of capital  flight.


Ethiopia’s capital flight is estimated at US$24.9 billion or 83.8% of the GDP



(Source: Political Economy Research Institute, the University of Massachusetts).



August 17, 2014 (PERI Research) — Ethiopia’s capital flight is estimated at about US$24.9 billion which is 83.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ethiopia is ranked 8th in the group of 33 countries for which data are available but it stands first when compared to non-oil and/or mineral exporting countries. Even the latter was considered to be substantially lower than the actual flows give that large stock of immigrants. The true figure could be as high as one billion dollars. If so, Ethiopian capital flight would be commensurately larger than the estimated.


Capital losses through trade misinvoicing and unrecorded remittance
Substantial export underinvoicning (net outflows) couple with import underinvoicing (net inflows), with the balance resulting in a net outflow, as in the case of Sudan or a net inflow, as in the cases of Ethiopia and Ghana.

Unrecoreded remittances also contribute substantially to estimated capital flight in some countries. In Ethiopia, the volume of remittances reported by the World Bank in 2010 was about half the amount reported by the Central Bank ($661 million).

The following figures are in millions

















(Source: Political Economy Research Institute, the University of Massachusetts).











Oromia Against the Tyranny of Ethiopia: A Generation, Fearless of Death and Detention, Will Crumble Mountains August 17, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Amane Badhaso, Ambo, Ayantu Tibeso, Colonizing Structure, Development & Change, Dictatorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Finfinne is Oromia's land, Finfinnee, Finfinnee is the Capital City of Oromia, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, NO to the Evictions of Oromo Nationals from Finfinnee (Central Oromia), Oromia Support Group Australia, Oromians Protests, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo and the call for justice and freedom, Oromo Culture, Oromo Identity, State of Oromia, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, UK Aid Should Respect Rights.
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A Generation, Fearless of Death and Detention, Will Crumble Mountains

By Firehiwot Guluma Tezera*

There is an Ethiopian saying, “one would lose what one has in the hand while reaching for more from the upper shelf.” While this selfish individual tries to get hold of more, what one has already have will be scattered all over the place. Lately, in the Habesha camp, fear has spread, and uneasiness has increased likewise.

Soothing, warnings, rebuking, and many others had been tried. Unfortunately, they try to tell us that the source of their problem is the national struggle of the Oromo people. In reality, the aim and goal of the struggle of the Oromo people is to get rid of authoritarian rulers, and thus, to achieve the right to self-determination for the Oromo people – based on international regulations and laws. The importance of the struggle is not only for the Oromo people, but for all peoples of the empire who are suffering under the colonial rule. So, the Oromo people trust in the united struggle of the oppressed peoples. The Oromo national movement will wedge, and has been wedging, joint struggles with forces of similar aims. In other ways, the Oromo people demonstrate peace in their cultural and administrative structures, and support fair unity. Fair unity helps the weak and stands for the oppressed. A good demonstration is the exemplary unity of the different ethnic groups living in today’s Oromiyaa – despite the numerous attempts by anti-Oromo groups to create rifts between the Oromo people and the other ethnic groups.

As the Oromo people – in their social lives and national struggle – respect the rules of human rights, by any measure, they are not threats to neighboring and same-region peoples; the information, which has been disseminated by groups wanting to re-instate the old system and TPLF jointly and independently, has turned out to be fake and false time and again.

The truth has been illustrated at various times by different individuals. But as long as those Oromo-phobic individuals who could not understand it give in, we must show and teach them theoretically and by action how the Oromo struggle has matured. Accordingly, the Oromo struggle has come a long way and has reached a stage where it cannot be averted; even though they are not going to like it, I would like to demonstrate through credible facts:

• By the sacrifices paid by its dear children, the Oromo Nation has been able to show to the whole world its country’s boundaries and its true history. By blood and bones of her children, our country Oromiyaa will be respected till eternity. This is the reality.

• The language and culture of Oromo people has been developing on solid foundation. Today Afan oromo has its own alphabets. Millions study, teach and do research by it. Medias with International audience broadcast by it. It has become language of literature. As this indicates that the struggle is nearing the end, we must take note.

• The Oromo people’s struggle has arrived at the generation which does not fear death, and which is ready to sacrifice for its dignity and for the sovereignty of Oromiyaa. This confirms all. As this reality has already been seen on the ground, there is no need for further explanations.

• The international community has not only understood, but forced to look for solutions about the arbitrary killings of the Oromo people. This is the fruit of the relentless struggle. Even if you don’t like it, you know the exact gist.

• Today, we have arrived at a historical chapter where the Oromo people have demonstrated that they will not crack by propaganda of anti-Oromo elements, and that they have stood together in unison for a common goal. This cooperation among all segments of the Oromo people has started to shake your power base – giving you high blood pressure as demonstrated by the recent uprising.

• As the Oromo national struggle consists of all options, Oromiyaan mountains, valleys and forests are witnessing strong military preparations. Accordingly, in May 2014 the Oromo Liberation Army has attacked enemy soldiers, and more than 200 soldiers have been put out of action. It has also confiscated a number of military equipment.

Overall, the Oromo people have scored important victories, and are mobilizing their human and material resources to claim the rest of their rights. So, are you trying to stop this visionary generation by imprisonment? Or trying to fool them through rebuke and fake words? To tell you the truth, that era has passed. Let me help you realize the truth. You can’t stop them. This is because you can’t stop a generation with a cause. The better way is to drop the old eyeglasses, which has twisted the truth, and straighten your views and live together. May God help you.

* Firehiwot Guluma Tezera: keetimdhufeera@yahoo.com

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014: Descent into hell continues in the Horn of Africa August 14, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Colonizing Structure, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Jen & Josh (Ijoollee Amboo), Tyranny.
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Ocouverture classement 2014logo RSF 

The levels of poverty and authoritarianism are higher in the Horn of Africa than anywhere else in the continent. Civil liberties are collateral victims. http://rsf.org/index2014/en-africa.php

World Press Index 2014: Ethiopia ranked 143/ 180

According to related index by freedom House, Ethiopia ranked 176/197

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom of the Press 2014, and Freedom on the Net 2013.




The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year.

The 2014 index underscores the negative correlation between freedom of information and conflicts, both open conflicts and undeclared ones. In an unstable environment, the media become strategic goals and targets for groups or individuals whose attempts to control news and information violate the guarantees enshrined in international law, in particular, article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Protocols Additional 1 and 2 to the Geneva Conventions. Tyrannic  countries such as Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and North Korea where freedom of information is non-existent continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them.


Post-Zenawi Ethiopia – a missed chance to liberalize

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s death in August 2012 and his replacement by Hailemariam Desalegn raised hopes of political and social reforms that would benefit freedom of information. Sadly, these hopes have been dashed. The repressive anti-terrorism law adopted in 2009 is a threat that continues to hang over journalists, forcing them to censor themselves. Media that dare to violate the code of silence, especially as regards government corruption, are systematically intimidated.

Five journalists are currently detained in Kality prison on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Two of them, Woubeshet Taye, the deputy editor of the Amharic-language weekly Awramba Times, and Reyot Alemu, a columnist with the national weekly Fitih, have been held for two and a half years, since their arrest in June 2011 on terrorism charges. There is no sign of any loosening of the vice that grips the Ethiopian media and the regime is unlikely to tolerate criticism before the elections in 2015.

Djibouti – unable to hear the voice of those without a voice

Djibouti is a highly strategic regional crossroads. Because of its economic and geopolitical advantages, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the dictatorial methods used by Ismail Omar Guelleh, who has ruled since 1999. Under Guelleh, Djibouti has steadily cut itself off from the outside world and suppressed criticism. The list of journalists who have been jailed and tortured gets longer and longer. Releases are only ever provisional. The journalist and Guelleh opponent Daher Ahmed Farah is a case in point. He has been jailed five times and arrested a dozen times since returning to Djibouti in January 2013.

The concept of independent media is completely alien to Djibouti. The only national broadcaster, Radio-Télévision Djibouti, is the government’s mouthpiece. The few opposition newspapers have disappeared over the years. There is an independent radio station based in Europe – La Voix de Djibouti. Two of its journalists have been jailed in the past 12 months.

Eritrea – Africa’s biggest prison for journalists

Ever since President Issayas Afeworki closed down all the privately-owned media and jailed 11 journalists in 2001, of which seven are reported to have died while in detention, Eritrea has been Africa’s biggest prison for the media. A total of 28 journalists are currently detained.

There are no longer any privately-owned media, and the state media are subject to such close surveillance that they have to conceal entire swathes of contemporary history such as the Arab Spring. Accessing reliable information is impossible in the absence of satellite and Internet connections. A few independent radio stations, such as Radio Erena, manage to broadcast from abroad.

Somalia – danger and authoritarianism

Those who had seen some improvement in Somalia were quickly disabused. Journalists still trying to provide objective news coverage are targeted by both terrorists and security-driven government officials. In 2013, seven journalists were the victims of terrorist attacks blamed with varying degrees of certainty on the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab. In November, Al-Shabaab deprived an entire region of television by seizing satellite dishes on the grounds they carried images that did not respect Islam. Information is seen as threat.

Unfortunately, the Somali government does not help. On the interior minister’s orders, police evicted Radio Shabelle, winner of the 2010 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Prize, from its building and seized its equipment in October 2013 after a series of reports criticizing the upsurge in violence in Mogadishu. It was a double blow because the station also used the building to house its journalists, for whom moving about the city is very dangerous. When the equipment was returned a few weeks later, it was so badly damaged as to be unusable. Not that the station is authorized to broadcast anyway, because the communication ministry refuses to give it a permit.


Read more @ http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php#