Worry as Yassin Juma still lacks legal aid, faces language barrier in Ethiopia

Wednesday July 29 2020

Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma. File | Nation Media Group


Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma made his third appearance in an Ethiopian court Tuesday since his arrest early July.

He was in court alongside four other suspects including an Ethiopian journalist.

A lawyer representing the other suspects, Abdullatiff Amin, said Mr Juma still doesn’t have a lawyer.

He also noted that no one from the Kenyan Embassy was at the Addis court on Tuesday. 


He added that the Kenyan scribe still did not face a specific charge. 


He had been charged alongside the other four with incitement and involvement in violence, plotting to create ethnic violence and plotting to kill senior Ethiopian officials. 

These are the same charges that several opposition politicians have faced following the killing of Oromo musician Hachalu Hundessa.

Mr Juma told the court that he is in Ethiopia legally pursuing an online course. 

Mr Amin told the Nation that Juma was arrested while he was inside the house of an opposition politician, but added that this is not a legal ground to arrest anyone. 


According to the lawyer, Yassin Juma has no legal representation, leaving him in a perilous position as he tries to fight the charges amid a language barrier.

Three Kenyans, probably friends or relatives, who tried to visit Mr Juma in police cell were blocked from seeing him by the police. 

This is despite the fact that the court had ordered the police to allow visitors to see the journalist while he is being held. 

On Tuesday, the court issued a fresh order to police to allow him visits. 

The court also ordered that due to language barrier, Mr Juma should get an official translator until he gets a lawyer. 

Mr Amin opines that it is the responsibility of the Kenyan government to assist Mr Juma with legal representation.

He will appear in court again on August 5, 2020.