11 July 2012 [ESAT]
The house of people’s representatives, where 99.6 percent of the seats belong to the ruling party EPRDF is expected to vote on the controversial telecom fraud proclamation today at its special parliamentary session without any amendments.
The new law may allow for a prison sentence up to eight years for providing telephone call and fax through the internet and up to three years imprisonment for obtaining the service, and is alleged to allow up to 15years imprisonment for using VOIP services like Skype. Though provisions in the draft law state about it, the government denies the allegations that the law bans VOIP services is untrue.
International press freedom advocates in the likes of Reporters Without Boards have voiced their concerns over the new law sighting that the law is ambiguous and may be used to persecute government dissenters and can limit freedom of expression. The Ethiopian government insists that the law is to protect the revenue of the sole state run telecom provider. Many observers argue either way the draft law doesn’t conform to the constitution of the country and is ambiguous and ill intended.
Ethiopia is said to have the second lowest internet penetration rate in the whole world.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi`s government has long been under fire from a number of human right groups and media watch organizations for growingly repressive media laws.
- World should renounce press freedom curbs in Ethiopia (ethioinfo.wordpress.com)
- Although still at draft stage, new telecom rules give cause for concern (ethioinfo.wordpress.com)
- IMF.org and Economist.com Joined the Long List of Blocked Websites in Ethiopia (ethioinfo.wordpress.com)
- Skype me? Indeed | Text of Ethiopia’s draft Telecom Law (danielberhane.wordpress.com)
- A Perspective on the New Ethiopian Telecom Bill (endalk.wordpress.com)
- Ethiopia – Although still at draft stage, new telecoms rules give cause for concern (en.rsf.org)
- On Skype | RSF retracts its statement, makes more errors | Ethiopia (danielberhane.wordpress.com)