February 19, 2027 (ADDIS ABABA) - Eritrean authorities have reportedly jailed two journalists who had been serving for the state-owned Eritrean Radio and Television Agency, run under tight control by the country’s Ministry of information.
- Eritrea, which borders Sudan and Ethiopia, has been dubbed the North Korea of Africa (HRW)
An exiled Eritrean opposition Radio station, Eritrean Forum Radio, on Sunday said that the two journalists had been taken by five government agents from their home in Asmera on February 14.
Citing to eyewitnesses, the Tigrigna language radio broadcast identified the journalists as Abraham Yitbarek and Senait Ekubay.
The two journalists were arrested on suspicion of attempting to flee the home country, the report said.
The Eritrean government considers fleeing citizens as traitors, and if caught they will be thrown in jail for life or could be punished by death if they are suspected of having links with exiled Eritrean opposition groups or with the arch-foe Ethiopia.
A report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), released in 2014, estimates that about 4,000 Eritreans flee the country each month to escape indefinite military conscription, arbitrary arrests and other forms of human right violations.
The Red Sea nation has a long-standing shoot-to-kill policy against citizens who try to flee one of the world’s repressive country dubbed by international human right groups as Africa’s North Korea.
According to US-based press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report for 2016 Eritrean authorities detain 17 journalists who have remained in jail since 2001 following 1998-2000 border war with Ethiopia.
In a recent report, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said 23 journalists were imprisoned in Eritrea as of December 1, 2014, one of the largest numbers in the world and the most in Africa. Nine have been in prison since 2001, and almost all are being held incommunicado.