Amnesty: Ethiopia Using Terror Laws to Arrest Government Critics

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 7:50 am (UTC-5)
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Amnesty International says Ethiopian authorities have been using anti-terror laws as a pretext to arrest and silence politicians and journalists who criticize government policies.

In a report released Friday, the human rights group said at least 114 opposition politicians and six journalists have been arrested since March.

Amnesty said, in many cases, calls for peaceful protests or attempts to conduct investigative journalism have been interpreted as acts of terrorism or other criminal wrongdoing.

While journalists and politicians in Ethiopia have been subject to arrests in the past, the report said the recent increase in terror charges represents “a new level of repression” in the government's efforts to stifle political dissent.

Amnesty also criticized several senior Ethiopian government officials, including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, for making public comments that imply that all terror suspects are guilty. The group says it does not believe they will receive a fair trial.

Ethiopia's broad anti-terrorism laws went into effect earlier this year. Activists have complained the new provisions have led to a new wave of politically-motivated arrests that have netted dozens of journalists and prominent opposition politicians.