New Journalist Association Established in Ethiopia

By Betre Yacob. 

Ethiopian journalists have successfully established a new nation-wide non partisan and independent professional association, which is unique of its kind. The first general assembly meeting of the association was colourfully held yesterday on 30 January 2014 in Addis Ababa.

The new association, Ethiopian Journalists Forum (EJF), is intended to protect and promote Ethiopian journalists and media practitioners, and devoted to promoting the freedom of speech and press freedom.

Ethiopia is one of the lowest-ranking countries in the world with regards to press freedom, and is the highest jailor of journalists.

According to Amnesty International, only during 2011 and 2012, over 100 journalists and political activists were arrested and prosecuted on charges of terrorism and related offenses, for exercising their rights to freedom of expression.

The general assembly meeting of the association was held in the presence of the representatives of Ethiopian Charities and Societies Agency, which has the mandate to give legal certificate to new associations and charity organizations.

Besides the founding members, the meeting was attended by representatives from the US and UK embassies in Addis Ababa.

The half day meeting was concluded electing the official leadership of the association and approving its constitution.

Ethiopian Journalists Forum (EJF) is not the first association to have been established in Ethiopia, but the 9th. There are other 8 journalists’ association operating in the country.

But they all are accused of being loyal to the regime and of failing to play their role. Many journalists claim that none of the associations have done anything to bring about change on the deteriorating press freedom and safety of journalists.

As a result, the EJF has been welcomed by many journalists, who are in dire need of protection. Its formation has been good news to those who wish to see an independent institution, which is loyal only to the journalists and lays its foundation on solid principles.

Many hope that the association is a best framework to work against the deteriorating press freedom in the country and bring about change on the safety of journalists.

The EJF is open to anyone involved in journalistic profession. It registers members under three categories, which are “Ordinary Membership”, “Associate Membership”, and “Honorary Membership.”

Currently, the association has 30 founding members drawn from different media institutions. They work in newspapers, magazines, and in the new media, as reporter, editor, subeditor, columnist, author, contributor, and photographer.

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