Verdict Against Journalists Shows Lack of Rule of Law

Civil Rights Defenders condemns the conviction of the Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson. The trial, and the Ethiopian terrorist legislation, reveal with terrifying clarity the lack of rule of law in the countries in the Horn of Africa, and the dire consequences that this may have for all who work to expose the human rights situation.

But unfortunately this is not only the case in Ethiopia. Local human rights defenders throughout the region are literally working with their lives at stake. They deserve international attention and support.

– We consider the verdicts to be politically motivated. The terrorist legislation that was used during the trial was turned into a tool to prevent free speech in Ethiopia, said Erik Esbjörnson from Civil Rights Defenders.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were sentenced on 21 December, 2011, for entering Ethiopia illegally, and for supporting terrorist activities. The sanction is expected to be published within a week.

The two men admit to the first accusation but state that it was necessary in order to be able to carry out their journalistic work. They deny any form of connection to terrorist activity.