Thursday, May 3, 2007

Africa News Round-Up

Progress on Punishing Those Responsible for the Genocide in Darfur:

(AP)The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese government’s humanitarian affairs minister and a janjaweed militia leader suspected of committing war crimes in Darfur, the court said Wednesday.

Ethiopia and Press Freedom:

(AP)Ethiopia tops a list of 10 countries — including three in sub-Saharan Africa — where press freedom has deteriorated over the past five years, a New York-based media advocacy group said Wednesday.

Three countries on the list — Ethiopia, Gambia and Congo — show that "democracy's foothold in Africa is shallow when it comes to press freedom. These three African nations, as diverse as they are, have won praise at times for their transition to democracy — but they are actually moving in reverse on press issues. Journalists in Ethiopia, Gambia, and DRC (Congo) are being jailed, attacked, and censored, a picture far worse than what we saw only a few years ago."

Ethiopia's Internet Repression

(Reuters) An Internet watchdog on Tuesday accused Ethiopia of blocking scores of anti-government Web sites and millions of Weblogs in one of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest cases of cyber-censorship.

SIGN THIS PETITION TO HELP FORCE AMERICAN COMPANIES TO STAND UP TO REPRESSIVE REGIMES. Google and other American companies allow Ethiopia and China to "block" blogs and webpages, in order to profit in these countries. If we are in the business of spreading democracy (and if Ethiopia is really our ally in the war against the anti-democratic terrorist ideology), we should encourage American companies to show, by example, how integral the "Fourth Estate" is to the democratic system.

Starbucks, Ethiopia, Strike Deal

Starbucks and the Ethiopian government agreed in principle on a licensing, distribution and marketing deal that recognizes the importance and integrity of the nation's specialty coffee names, they said in [a joint] statement.

The parties expect to formalize the details of the agreement and sign it this month.

"Ethiopia is firmly committed to work in partnership with all international specialty coffee companies and distributors of its fine coffees, including Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe," said Getachew Mengistie, director general of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office.

Aid agency Oxfam, which launched an campaign in October last year urging Starbucks to talk to Ethiopia directly on the issue, welcomed the move.

"This initiative will help create real change for the 15 million Ethiopians dependent on the country's coffee sector," Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser said.

Poverty is dire in Ethiopia, where a quarter of its 80 million people rely on coffee. The average Ethiopian's yearly income, in purchasing power parity terms, is around $1,000.

Eight Ethiopian Hostages Free

Eight Ethiopians made a tearful return to Addis Ababa on Thursday, two months after being kidnapped at gunpoint with five Europeans in the country's remote northeastern Afar region.


merjoem32 said...

It's sad to hear the the members of the press are being tormented in some parts of the world. Revealing the truth is an important job in society so I support any advocacy campaign that aims to promote press freedom. Of course, press freedom can be abused but it is necessary to achieve democracy.

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