The Sting of Impunity: A Live Chat with Exiled Journalist Aaron Berhane

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What: A live chat between award-winning journalist and author Susan McClelland and Aaron Berhane — an exiled Eritrean journalist, now living in Toronto, who has experienced impunity firsthand.

Date: November 19, 2013


Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Hashtag: Viewers were able to ask questions and follow along with the event using #cjfelive and take action as part of the campaign for the International Day to End Impunity with #IDEI

Having trouble viewing the liveblog? Watch it here.

A culture of impunity is one in which intimidation, threats, attacks and murders go unpunished, resulting in a climate of injustice and insecurity for those seeking to express themselves. The International Day to End Impunity is a call to action to demand justice for those who have been targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression and to shed light on the issue of impunity.

As part of the IFEX campaign marking this day, CJFE held a conversation with journalist Aaron Berhane. Berhane was interviewed by award-winning investigative journalist Susan McClelland, who has written extensively on the subject of human rights around the world.

Berhane is a former recipient of CJFE’s Journalists in Distress fund who was forced to flee his home country of Eritrea (ranked worst in the world for press freedom on Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Freedom Index) in 2002 after his newspaper, Setit, published an article critical of the national government. While Aaron was able to escape the country, many of his colleagues were arrested and detained in Eiraeiro, Eritrea’s highly secretive and notoriously brutal prison for political prisoners. Such prisoners are held without charge and many die while their persecutors go unpunished.

Our November 19 live chat, The sting of impunity: A live chat with exiled journalist Aaron Berhane, presented an opportunity to hear Berhane's first hand account of the experience of impunity, the perils that he faced in Eritrea, and his pursuit of free expression. Be sure to take action to end impunity until November 23.

About Aaron Berhane

Aaron Berhane is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of the first independent newspaper in Eritrea, Setit. After his newspaper was shut down and Berhane was pursued by security agents, he fled his country and was eventually granted political asylum in Canada. He founded a community newspaper in 2004 and has been publishing his paper since then to help the Eritrean Canadian community integrate into Canadian society. He is an award-winning journalist and editor-in-chief and publisher of the Eritrean Canadian newspaper Meftih

About Susan McClelland

Susan McClelland is a magazine writer, investigative journalist and author of six books, including Bite of the Mango, which was published to both literary and popular acclaim in more than 25 countries. McClelland has won numerous national and international awards for her work, including two Amnesty International Media awards for excellence in human rights reporting. Her magazine writing has appeared in such publications as the Times (London), Glamour, Marie Claire, The Guardian, Chatelaine, Maclean’s and The Walrus. She has also been involved in documentary films, including the BBC Panorama 2012 production on Acholi warlord Joseph Kony. Her next book is the memoir of a woman from North Korea, trafficked into forced marriages with Chinese men. She is currently penning her first fiction – a young-adult novel illustrating the large numbers of missing Aboriginal women in Canada. Her work can be seen at

Further Reading

Eritrea: A story of censorship
Eritrea ten years on: Journalists remain imprisoned
The Chill of Impunity: A Global Problem
Government Corruption and Impunity: Twin Threats to Free Expression in Mexico
#FollowFriday: Call for an end to impunity
The International Day to End Impunity

This event took place on November 19, 2013. Having trouble viewing the liveblog? You can also watch it here