Ethiopian police arrest Reuters cameraman

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NAIROBI (Reuters) – A Reuters cameraman, Kumerra Gemechu, was arrested in the Ethiopian funds Addis Ababa on Thursday and will be held in custody for at minimum two weeks, his household said. He has not been billed.

A photograph from the spouse and children album exhibits Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu in this image introduced on December 27, 2020. Handout via REUTERS

No purpose was supplied to the family for Thursday’s arrest, and police did not answer to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Kumerra, 38, has labored for Reuters as a freelance cameraman for a ten years.

At a temporary court listening to on Friday, in which no law firm was existing, a judge purchased Kumerra’s detention for a even more 14 times to give police time to investigate, the family members stated.

In a assertion on Monday, Reuters information company strongly condemned Kumerra’s detention. The arrest adopted the beating of a Reuters photographer, Tiksa Negeri, by two Ethiopian federal law enforcement officers on Dec. 16.

“Kumerra is part of a Reuters team that stories from Ethiopia in a reasonable, independent and impartial way. Kumerra’s get the job done demonstrates his professionalism and impartiality, and we are conscious of no basis for his detention,” Editor-in-Main Stephen J. Adler stated in the statement.

“Journalists should be permitted to report the news in the public curiosity with no panic of harassment or damage, wherever they are. We will not rest right up until Kumerra is freed,” Adler mentioned.

Around 10 armed federal law enforcement officers arrived at Kumerra’s house in Addis Ababa on Thursday evening and took him away in handcuffs in front of his wife and 3 small children, his spouse Hawi Desalegn explained. She additional that his eldest daughter, who is 10, clung to him screaming as he was led absent.

Law enforcement also confiscated Kumerra’s telephone, a computer system, flash drives and papers, in accordance to the spouse and children.


Kumerra’s arrest follows government tension on journalists for some international news shops which have been masking the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray location, in which government forces have been battling the previous ruling get together, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Kumerra protected the Tigray conflict, but Reuters was not able to establish whether his arrest was connected to his get the job done. Govt officials did not answer to thoughts from Reuters about whether his protection was at challenge.

Ethiopia’s media authority, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, accused Reuters and other international media outlets in a Nov. 23 statement on its Fb site of “false” and “unbalanced” protection of the combating in Tigray.

“We stand by our reporting on the conflict in the Tigray area and will proceed to report on Ethiopia with integrity, independence, and freedom from bias, as we do all around the earth,” Reuters mentioned in a individual assertion.

The New York-centered Committee to Safeguard Journalists (CPJ) claimed Kumerra’s detention was “the most current illustration of how press freedom is fast eroding below Key Minister Abiy Ahmed after a limited-lived hope of reform.”

When CPJ carried out its once-a-year census of jailed journalists on Dec. 1, there ended up at least 7 journalists in custody in Ethiopia for their operate, CPJ mentioned in a statement on Monday.

Five of people arrests took put immediately after the Tigray battling broke out on Nov. 4, according to CPJ.

Countless numbers of people are thought to have been killed and all-around 950,000 displaced in the thirty day period-prolonged conflict. The federal government says it is now in regulate of the restive area, but it tightly controls obtain, and some places nonetheless do not have cell cellular phone coverage.

Ethiopia’s govt, which the TPLF dominated for virtually a few many years, usually jailed critics, such as politicians and journalists.

When Abiy came to energy in 2018 just after protests against the government, he speeded up democratic reforms and oversaw the launch of tens of countless numbers of political prisoners.

Nevertheless, community and intercontinental legal rights teams have expressed worry about the arrests of 1000’s of other people subsequent outbreaks of fatal violence close to the place.

The governing administration has mentioned all those arrested were being suspected of fomenting the bloodshed.

“One of the government’s primary roles and tasks is making certain stability and steadiness and that the rule of regulation prevails,” Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for the prime minister, informed Reuters in August just after much more than 9,000 individuals had been arrested subsequent deadly clashes in the capital and encompassing Oromiya region.

Reporting by the Nairobi newsroom Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Nick Tattersall

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