US criticises Ethiopian decision to jam VOA service
Washington: The US on Friday opposed Ethiopia's decision to jam Voice of America's (VOA) service in Amheric language after a "baseless" allegation that the radio station was engaged in "destabilising propaganda" and asked it to protect the universal and fundamental right of freedom of expression.
In a statement, the State Department condemned Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s comparison of VOA's programming to Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda.
"Comparing a respected and professional news service to a group that called for genocide in Rwanda is a baseless and inflammatory accusation that seeks only to deflect attention away from the core issue," State Department Acting Spokesman Gordon Duguid said.
"The prime minister may disagree with news carried in Voice of America's Amharic Service broadcasts; however, a decision to jam VOA broadcasts contradicts the government of Ethiopia's frequent public commitments to freedom of the press," he said.
The Ethiopian government had stopped VOA's broadcasts in Amheric alleging that the radio station was engaging in "destabilising propaganda".
Duguid noted that the Ethiopian Constitution states that all citizens have the right to freedom of expression "without any interference" and that this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, "regardless of frontiers”.
The Constitution further states that freedom of the press shall specifically include prohibition of any form of censorship. "We look to the Government of Ethiopia to abide by its Constitution," Duguid said.