Ethiopian Human Rights Lawyer Refused Entry Into Britain

By a zimbabwejournalists Correspondent
LONDON - Prominent Ethiopian human rights lawyer Derbew Temesgen Meshesha, who is supposed be addressing a seminar on ‘Public Order, State Security and Press Freedom in Ethiopia’ at the Royal African Society next week and the Frontline (journalists) Club, has been refused an entry visa by the British Embassy in Addis Ababa.
This is despite expectations from Foreign and Commonwealth officials in London who were hoping he could brief them on the current situation in the Horn of Africa. Meshesha was also set to address a meeting at the Frontline Club on the situation in the Horn of Africa.
Recently the British Embassy in Harare refused Raymond Majongwe, a leading critic of President Robert Mugabe's regime, a visa for travel to the UK.
Majongwe, the secretary general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, was due to arrive in London for last week’s Open Forum discussion on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
After a long career in journalism Mr Meshesha has spent the last 15 years as a lawyer, specialising in press freedom cases. Ethiopia has the highest number of jailed and exiled journalists in Africa .
Many publishers and journalists are currently imprisoned in Addis Ababa , where his clients include Leikun Engda, Editor in Chief of DagimWorchif and Solomon Aregawi publisher of another weekly newspaper Hardar.
Meshesha, who is well-travelled, and married with four children, was to have spoken alongside Ato Kifle Mulat, President of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association now living in exile in Uganda , who has been granted a visa. Other speakers include representatives from Article 19, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.
EJN Coordinator Forward Maisokwadzo, who has organised his visit, says: “Our aim is to raise public awareness about the harassment and censorship facing journalists in Ethiopia . It is a grave disappointment that one of their strongest defenders is being prevented from coming to Britain to speak out on their behalf. We are calling on the Foreign Office to reverse this decision as a matter of urgency. We would urge press freedom activists everywhere to make representations on his behalf to the British authorities.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website states: ‘The human rights situation in Ethiopia is poor… Journalists in the independent press who criticise the Government are at risk of arbitrary arrest and detention.’
Britain has been rigorously enforcing a new visa regime designed to stop the flow of African migrants into the UK, especially with the new European Union countries releasing millions of workers onto the UK labour market.
Several Zimbabwean sporting and entertainment stars have been barred from the UK over fears that they would not return.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at3:23 PM

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