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Parliamentary questions
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11 September 2015
Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-008413/2015

The EU is deeply concerned by the situation of the Zone 9 bloggers and journalists arrested over a year ago, and more generally about the use of the Anti-Terrorist Proclamation to stifle dissent. During its regular political dialogue with the Ethiopian authorities, both in Brussels and in Addis Ababa the EU has approached Ethiopian authorities on their situation and insisted on the importance of due process, transparency, access of detainees to medical care and legal counsel, as well as access to families. The EU and its Member States have also repeatedly highlighted the importance of political freedoms, freedom of the press, and due process in Ethiopia, and expressed our concerns on the use of the Anti-Terrorist Proclamation.

Moreover, representatives from the EU Delegation and from EU Member States also consistenly observe the legal proceedings of the detainees, including by participating to judicial hearings regarding their cases. The EU is also exploring the possibility to activate the EIDHR emergency fund for Human Rights Defenders to ensure their legal assistance. Finally, the EU also takes a public stance when deemed necessary, and notably released two statements on 6 May 2014 and 30 July 2014 on the arrests of journalists, bloggers and members of the opposition.

The EU was therefore relieved to see that on 8 and 9 July 2015 five individuals associated with the Zone 9 group were released by order of the Ministry of Justice — as was convicted journalist Reyot Alemu. We have congratulated the authorities and enquired about the remaining cases of journalists and members of the opposition imprisoned in the country. We will continue to closely follow the situation in the field and to react as appropriate.

Legal notice