SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 08, 2018

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Ambo University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 8, 2018, authorities reportedly detained Seyoum Teshome, a scholar of management at Ambo University and a blogger who has written critically of the Ethiopian government, and has previously been detained, apparently in retaliation for expressive activity.

According to reports, as United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was visiting Addis Ababa, security forces went to Professor Teshome’s home in the city of Woliso, took him into custody, and detained him at an unknown location.  Professor Teshome, who had been detained under similar circumstances for nearly three months in late 2016 (see report), had recently written critical about a six-month state of emergency declared by Ethiopian authorities in February 2018.  As of this report, authorities have not announced any charges against Professor Teshome. 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and detention of a professor, apparently as a result of nonviolent expressive activity, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is party. State officials have a responsibility not to interfere with the right to free expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly, and to comply with internationally recognized standards of due process and fair trial. Detentions and related actions aimed at limiting free expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: On April 16, 2018, Ethiopian authorities reportedly ordered the release of Professor Teshome and a fellow scholar-detainee Taye Dendea.