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Ethiopia anti-terrorism law being used to suppress journalists: HRW

Ethiopia's anti-terrorism law is "fundamentally flawed and being used to repress legitimate reporting," Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] Wednesday. HRW made the statement after two Swedish journalists were convicted [Bloomberg report] Wednesday of supporting terrorism under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 [text]. The journalists, who face up to 15 years in prison, were on a "journalistic mission," according to Sweden's prime minister. HRW deputy Africa director Rona Peligal said, "[t]he vague and broad anti-terrorism law was open to abuse and it is being abused." HRW said the trial was unfair and called on Ethiopia to immediately release the journalists and drop all charges. Amnesty International [advocacy website] also called for their release [press release].

Ethiopia's anti-terrorism law has faced ongoing criticism since it was passed [JURIST report] in 2009. In August, JURIST guest columnist and former executive director Abigail Salisbury argued that the government is using the law to suppress journalists and opposition groups in order to maintain its hold on power [JURIST op-ed]. In July, HRW called on the Ethiopian government to stop using the law to repress free speech [JURIST report].

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