Ethiopia denies ban on VOIP services
Addis Ababa, June 23 (WIC) – The use of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) such as Skype and Google Talk is not banned in Ethiopia, State Minister of Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) has said.
At a press briefing to local and international journalists here on Friday State Minister Shimeles Kemal denied the presence of a law that bans VoIP use in Ethiopia as reported by many international media outlets including the BBC and Al Jazeera.
“These reports are baseless. The Ethiopian law, as it stands, does not prohibit the use of VOIP such as Skype, Google Talk or similar services,” Shimeles Kemal said.
The State Minister, however, confirmed that a draft law [Proclamation on Telecom Fraud Offences] is tabled to parliament that aims at regulating cyber related crimes.
He said the draft law only aims to discourage and prevent illicit and criminal activities carried out through bypassing the domestic telecom service and thereby providing unlawful international calls.
It also criminalizes a number of other telecom related offences such as tampering and duplicating SIM cards and credit cards to gain illegal revenue.
The minister also addressed issues relating to the recent Human Rights Watch report. HRW accused the government of forcefully relocating indigenous people in the lower Omo Valley for the purpose of sugar projects.
“As usual the report is baseless,” the Minister said accusing the organization of a smear campaign against Ethiopia.
He said HRW did not send any credible team to Ethiopia to monitor the situation adding that the sources it mentioned for its accusation are not identifiable or credible.
“Every human right monitor is required and expected to deliver its preliminary report and recommendations for the lawful authorities. These have never been done by Human Rights Watch,” he said.
This alone indicates that the primary aim and target of the reports are not the promotion and improvement of human right conditions in Ethiopia, Shimeles said.
According to him, HRW is trying to use the human right allegations for the purpose of promoting their smear campaign against the Ethiopian government.
The Minister also addressed a host of issues including Ethio-Eritrea border conflict, the extradition of 14 suspects of a public bus attack in Gambella and Ethiopia’s involvement in Somalia.
Watch the press briefing on Current Event section.
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