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CARD Condemns revocation of Somali Journalists Association license

The Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD) is alarmed by the unwarranted suspension of the Somali Journalists Association by the Somali Region Justice Bureau and the Somali Region Communication Bureau.

In a letter dated February 3, 2023, the region’s Communication Bureau issued a letter to the Association saying that the Association’s legal personality had been revoked and ordered all regional security forces to take “appropriate measures according to the law of the region.” The Communication Bureau referenced an earlier letter by the regional Justice Bureau letter to the Association informing them of the annulment of their registration because. This measure follows the Association’s chairperson, Abdullrezaq Hassan’s accusation of the regional government of suppressing press freedom and disallowing media operating in the region because the regional government suspended 15 foreign media journalists from working in the region saying that they are not licensed.

The measure taken by the regional bureaus is against the federal constitution which, under Article 29, asserts, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression without any interference.” Furthermore, it is against Article 31 of the constitution providing for freedom of association.It is also against the principles of the Ethiopian Mass Media Proclamation 1238/2021 which indicates that Ethiopia is obliged to assure freedom of expression because of the international instruments it is a party. It also indicates the importance of freedom of expression for overall societal development.

CARD believes such intimidation and harassment of journalists and their associations is a setback to the democratization aspirations the people of Ethiopia in general, and the residents of the Somali region, in particular, have. It will also limit the contributions of journalists and their associations to the overall societal change and growth. Hence, we call upon the Justice and the Communications Bureaus of the region to reverse their
decisions and reinstate the legal status of the association. We also call upon regional and federal authorities to intervene so that lessons are taken from this and it won’t happen again.

Respect freedom of expression!

Respect freedom of association!

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