Freedom of Expression and Prior Restraining factors in Ethiopia: Focus on Printing Media.

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Addis Ababa University


Since the adoption of UDHR, recognizing FOE as one of fundamental rights and freedoms is widely accepted and guaranteed under different core international and national human right instruments including national Constitutions. FOE refers not only to freely express one's view, but it includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers. As a best instrument of FOE, media plays a great role in the realization of FOE. FOE is widely accepted for its justification of Personal fulfillment and development, get the truth and democratic governance. The FDRE Constitution has recognized such right in elaborated manner and further obliges any actor involved in implementation of fundamental rights and freedoms to act in line with those international human right instruments to which Ethiopia is a party. However, this recognition is being affected by various subsidiary laws, procedures and practices of the government and other actors in different forms. To examine these impediments against FOE, the relevant legislations have been thoroughly analyzed. Also to understand the realities from the ground, selected court cases have been analyzed critically as well as in-depth interview conducted with legal practitioners, media professionals, scholars, and other relevant individuals both from governmental and non-government organizations. Mostly the courts are not interpreting those controversial legislations which incorporate vague and wide terms, considering the spirit of FDRE constitution as well as international human right laws in which Ethiopia is a party. In the same manner, EBA, BSPE, Attorney general has been applying different legal based and other impediments which developed through practice against FOE in general and freedom of Media in particular. However, though the extent recognition to FOE and Media is acceptable, the reality from the ground is so far from the text of FDRE Constitution and other internationally accepted principles which designed in favor of FOE and Media.