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The 2018 World Press Freedom Index that is published by Reporters Without Boarders annually, puts Ethiopia at 150th place out of 180 countries, describing it as one of the worst places for press freedom and journalists.
According to the Index, in Ethiopia, terrorism charges have been systematically used against journalists ever since the 2009 terrorism law took effect. It states that the charges carry long jail sentences and allow the authorities to hold journalists without trial for extended periods.
The Index also states that there has been no significant improvement since the purges that led to the closure of six newspapers in 2014 and drove around 30 journalists into exile. On the contrary, another six-month state of emergency was proclaimed in February 2018, which the government could again use to arrest critical journalists and ban the public from watching or listening to certain broadcast media.
‘The Internet and social networks are often disconnected while physical and verbal threats, arbitrary trials, and convictions are all used to silence the media. On the other hand, it is to be noted that the Ethiopian government recently released a few journalists that were imprisoned’ the index states.
The Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.
Regarding getting data on abuse, the Index states that a team of in-house specialists, each assigned to a different geographical region, keeps a detailed tally of abuses and violence against journalists and media outlets. These researchers also rely on a network of correspondents in 130 countries.
The Abuses indicator for each country is calculated on the basis of the data about the intensity of abuses and violence against media actors during the period evaluated. This quantitative indicator is then used to weight the qualitative analysis of the situation in the country based on the replies to the questionnaires.