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ongoing but limited insurgency by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in the Oromia region to justify widespread repression of the ethnic Oromo population.Associations with other banned groups, including Ginbot 7, are also used to justify repression.Phone networks have been shut down during peaceful protests.

While this electronic “evidence” appears to be used mostly to compel suspects to confess or to provide information, some recorded emails and phone calls have been submitted as evidence in trials under the repressive Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

The government has also used its telecom and Internet monopoly to curtail lawful opposition activities.

Instead, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of ethnically-based political parties in power for more than 20 years, continues to severely restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

It has used repressive laws to decimate civil society organizations and independent media and target individuals with politically-motivated prosecutions.

They play recorded phone conversations with friends and family members.

The information is routinely obtained without judicial warrants.

Bloggers and Facebook users face harassment and the threat of arrest should they refuse to tone down their online writings.

The message is simple: self-censor to limit criticism of the government or you will be censored and subject to arrest.

All governments around the world engage in surveillance, but in most countries at least some judicial and legislative mechanisms are in place to protect privacy and other rights. The government’s actual control is exacerbated by the perception among Ethiopia’s population that government surveillance is omnipresent.

This results in considerable self-censorship, with many Ethiopians refraining from openly communicating on a variety of topics across the telecom network.

Ethiopia has acquired some of the world’s most advanced surveillance technologies, but the scale of its actual telecom surveillance is limited by human capacity issues and a lack of trust among key government departments.

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