Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Private newspaper and magazine publishers have denounced the new contract which was circulated by printers saying it promoted censorship and went against the grain of the constitution and press freedom. Publishers have submitted their complaint to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the printers.
After receiving the letter from the printers, the publishers held consecutive meetings to adopt a common stand against the contract. Such a contract was circulated by Birhanena Selam Printing Enterprise, Bole Printing House and others.
The letter of complaint sent to the prime minister was petitioned by all the publishers whereas the letter which was sent to Birhanena Selam Printing Enterprise was signed by publishers that contract their printing to the enterprise.
The main concern of the publishers is Article 10 of the contract which provides the following clause:
Declining to print content violating the law
10.1. The printer has the right to refuse to print any written script that the publisher submitted for printing should it have adequate reason to judge that the script breaches the law.
10.2. The printer reserves the right to terminate or cancel the contract at any time should it have adequate reason to judge that the publisher has a propensity to publish a content which entails liability.
This article is in disagreement with Article 29 of the FDRE Constitution which prohibits censorship in any form. Therefore, signing this contract will be considered not only as being against the constitution but also accepting censorship. Accordingly, the publishers condemned the printers’ action.
The publishers were utterly displeased and offended by Birhanena Selam Printing Enterprise after it declined to show up at a meeting to discuss the matter and pressured them both through a letter and over the phone by telling them that their publications will not be printed if they do not sign the contract.
The publishers agreed to form an association to tackle problems they encounter in a systematic manner. They also decided to create a self-regulatory media council to monitor media activities. They further reached a consensus to establish their own printing house to solve such problems. Lastly, they agreed to publish this decision in their respective newspapers and magazines.
Source: Ethiopian Reporter
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