Press release

Ethiopia: Prisoner Release Should Be First Step

Ethiopia's government released more than 700 political prisoners, in a historic move towards democratic governance. 


In response to the Ethiopian government’s release of over 700 political prisoners this week, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The release of hundreds of political prisoners, including prominent opposition leaders and journalists, is a commendable step toward greater respect for fundamental rights,” said Jon Temin, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. ‘The Government of Ethiopia should follow this with broader reform measures to promote democratic governance, such as  repealing draconian civil society and antiterrorism laws, allowing independent media to operate without harassment, and ensuring the independence of democratic institutions, including the judiciary.”


Since the January 3, 2018 announcement of its intention to release political prisoners and close the Federal Crime Investigation Unit (Maekelawi), the Ethiopian government released over 3,000 political prisoners through pardons and dropping of charges. Prominent political prisoners including Merera Gudina, Bekele Gerba and Andualem Arage, and journalists Eskinder Nega and Wubshet Taye, are among those released.

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2018, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2017and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2017