The Media Legal Defence Initiative has launched a fundraising campaign to support its bid to free Ethiopian journalists, Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu.
MLDI has brought a legal challenge to the African Commission and Court of Human Rights, the main human rights tribunals at the African Union, asking them to declare that Reeyot and Eskinder’s conviction under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorist laws breaches their human rights and to stop the abuse of anti-terror laws to silence journalists.
While the legal team all give their time and expertise for free, there will be significant costs in attending hearings, translating numerous legal documents and other court-related expenses. MLDI is asking for donations to help cover these costs.
This fundraising campaign is one of the launch projects of Indie Voices, a new crowdfunding platform for independent media, which MLDI is proud to be part of.
Notes to editors:
- Mr Nega and Ms Alemu are award winning journalists and shared the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Award in 2012, awarded to journalists targeted for political persecution. Mr Nega has been working as a journalist since 1993. Prior to his most recent arrest in September 2011, he had been arrested on 7 previous occasions. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment in July 2012 for various offences under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
- Ms Alemu writes on topics such as government policy and spending, the lack of an independent media in Ethiopia and the mistreatment of minorities. Her arrest in June 2011 occurred several days after she published an article criticising practices of Ethiopia’s ruling party. She was initially sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for offences under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, reduced to 5 years on appeal. Both journalists are reported to have spent time in solitary confinement. Mr Nega was also alleged to have been beaten and Ms Alemu was deprived of medical care following surgery 15 months ago.
- IndieVoices is a crowdfunding site that specializes in helping independent media, primarily in the developing world, raise the funds they need. Its goal is to serve as a bridge that connects social investors to high-quality, independent, and socially relevant news and content providers and media companies.