A Futile Gagging Order for the ‘Prisoner X’ Scandal

Graffiti of Israeli newspaper reader. Photo: Helga Tawil Souri/flickr

After Australia’s ABC aired an exposé on ‘Prisoner X’ on February 12, Israeli media was quick to follow up on the shocking claims that Ben Zygier, an Australian-born Israeli citizen who worked for Mossad, was secretly detained in a maximum-security prison for months before allegedly committing suicide in 2010. However, reports on the scandal were pulled soon after they emerged. The Prime Minister’s Office called an urgent meeting of the editors of all major Israeli news outlets to ask for their cooperation in silencing the story. For a whole day, Israeli media were forbidden from reporting on the story, even as it was making headlines worldwide and Israelis disseminated  the news in social media and blogs. Only after three leftist members of the Knesset used their parliamentary immunity to speak on the issue did opaque headlines appear, and an Israeli court lifted the gag order.

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Iran’s Power Shakedown before the Presidential Election

Weakened President? Photo: Marcello Casal Jr/Wikimedia Commons

On October 22, 2012, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote an unprecedented open letter to Iran’s judiciary accusing them of unconstitutional conduct. The letter was written in response to judiciary’s decision to bar the Iranian President from visiting the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran where his media adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr is currently jailed.

In the letter, Ahamdinejad suggests that there was a “top secret” communique dispatched by the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani that said the president’s request to visit Evin was not in the best interests of the country. Ahmadinejad claims he wishes to investigate the conditions of prisoners. » More

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A Legal Solution to Mob Justice in Nigeria?

Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Stefan Magdalinski/Wikimedia Commons

On October 5, 2012, four students of the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria were beaten and burnt to death by a lynch mob, for allegedly stealing a Blackberry phone and a laptop. The tragic deaths of the students now known as the Aluu4 have caused outrage and plenty of online discussion about the serious problem of mob justice in Nigeria. It has also created opportunities for citizens to raise public awareness and propose solutions.

Noting the absence of legal provisions against mob justice, blogger Okechukwu Ofili posted a petition on October 18th for a mob justice prohibition bill signed by himself and “Nigerians Fighting for CHANGE” (read the full draft bill here) that has so far gathered more than 3,500 signatures. » More

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Zambia’s “Imaginary” Terror Plot

Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (in dark glasses) with President Sata (left) and other government officials.

Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (in dark glasses) with President Sata (left) and other government officials. Picture courtesy of Zambian Watchdog

Zambia recently woke up to a story in state-owned media that a group calling itself Tongas Under Oath had killed two people belonging to President Michael Sata’s ethnic group, and was now in the process of removing settlers from the ethnically Tonga Southern Province. However, the story did not wash with the citizens who simply viewed it as an attempt by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government to clamp down on the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND). Zambia’s third largest opposition party is led by Hakainde Hichilema, a Tonga who has been very critical of the Sata government. And as is often the case in Zambian politics, Hichilema is the latest in a line of fearless opposition leaders whose increasing popular support is likely to result in electoral success.

Prior to the release of the letter allegedly written by the Tongas Under Oath group, Hichilema was arrested and charged after he claimed that the PF government was planning to send youths to Sudan to train as militias. A few days later, the opposition’s headquarters in the capital, Lusaka, were searched by the police looking for seditious materials. » More

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Colombians Cautiously Optimistic About Peace Talks with FARC

Protestors voicing their outrage against FARC in 2008. Photo: xmascarol/flickr

Despite President Juan Manuel Santos’ wish [es] for discretion, news broke [es] in late August that the Colombian government was to begin negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This was finally confirmed by Santos on September 4 during a televised speech that outlined that the government’s negotiations [es] with FARC would seek an end to the armed conflict and drug trafficking. Both sides will also discuss victims’ rights, rural development and the participation of FARC in Colombia’s democratic process. Fearing a repeat of the last round of failed negotiationsin 1999-2002, Santos also said that no amnesty would be granted for FARC leaders and that military operations would continue. Minutes later, FARC’s leader, Timoleón Jiménez (‘Timochenko’) appeared in a broadcast from Havana, Cuba and declared that FARC is truly committed to a “civilized dialogue” that would end the decades-old conflict. » More

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