Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 15:26:26 EDT

Subject: EAST AFRICA / CONGRESSMAN By WORK A. KEBEDE/WASHINGTON

INTRO: THE FORMER CHAIRMAN OF A CONGRESSIONAL SUBCOMMITTEE FOR AFRICA HAS DEALT SOME HARSH CRITICISM AFTER HIS RETURN FROM THE EAST AFRICAN COUNTRIES OF ETHIOPIA, KENYA AND SUDAN. THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN FROM FLORIDA, HARRY JOHNSTON, DESCRIBED ETHIOPIA AS A ONE PARTY COUNTRY. A SUMMARY OF VOA's AMHARIC SERVICE REPORTS BY WORK A. KEBEDE FOLLOWS:

TEXT: MR JOHNSTON WHO HAD VISITED ETHIOPIA AND KENYA TWO YEARS AGO SAID AFTER HIS LAST VISIT, THERE STILL IS NOT MUCH PROGRESS IN ETHIOPIA IN TERMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRATIZATION OR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. WHEN MR. JOHNSTON VISITED EAST AFRICA EARLIER, ETHIOPIA'S GOVERNMENT WAS MAKING A TRANSITION FROM THE LEADERSHIP OF MENGISTU HAILE-MARIAM TO MELES ZENAWI.

"WITH ETHIOPIA I DID NOT FEEL THAT THERE HAD BEEN ANY REFORMS AT ALL IN HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN THE LAST 24 MONTHS. THE ETHIOPIANS AND, IN SOME CASES, THE STATE DEPARTMENT, USE THE MENGISTU REGIME AS A BENCHMARK TO DETERMINE HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRESS. I DON'T THINK YOU CAN USE THAT ANY MORE. I THINK WITH THE MELES REGIME BEING IN POWER NOW FOR FOUR YEARS, I USE THE BENCHMARK OF WHAT PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS."

MR. JOHNSTON SAID THERE ARE STILL 15-HUNDRED POLITICAL PRISONERS IN JAIL IN ETHIOPIA WHO HAVE NOT BEEN CHARGED, SOME OF THEM FOR AS LONG AS THREE OR FOUR YEARS. HE SAID HE THINKS THERE ARE MORE POLITICAL PRISONERS THERE THAN IN THE REST OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN COUNTRIES COMBINED. HE SAID THE ETHIOPIANS CAN NO LONGER HIDE BEHIND THE FACT THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE THEIR JUDICIARY OR THEIR CRIMINAL COURTS IN PLACE.

THE CONGRESSMAN ALSO DEPLORED TREATMENT OF THE NEWS MEDIA IN ETHIOPIA WHERE JUST BEFORE HE ARRIVED, HE SAID, 12 JOURNALISTS WERE ARRESTED BECAUSE THEY REPORTED THE ATTACK ON EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK. EGYPTIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE LINKED THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT TO TERRORIRSTS GIVEN REFUGE IN ETHIOPIA.

11-Oct-95 1:23 PM EDT (1723 UTC)

Source: Voice of America