A recent decision by a local court to invalidate President Rafael Correa’s pardon of Ecuadorean journalists Juan Carlos Calderon and Cristian Zurita for their book, El Gran Hermano, is another blow to press freedom in Ecuador. The court ruled that the pardon is not an admissible legal procedure in civil matters. Freedom House calls on the government to withdraw the lawsuit, which is the only legal way to end the trial. With the ruling and the resumption of the trial, the two journalists will likely face a $2 million dollar fine.
Freedom House commends the orderly transfer of power and respect for Malawi’s constitution, following the swearing in of former vice president, Joyce Banda on April 7. The decision for Banda to assume power comes after former president Bingu wa Mutharika died last week from massive cardiac arrest. Banda is the first female head of state in southern Africa, and will remain president until the country’s next elections in 2014.
Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argued in a New York Times opinion piece yesterday that the United States and Europe must learn to share the world with multiple “new forms of governance and capitalism,” and recognize that “the era of Western primacy” is coming to an end. It is certainly correct that “non-Western” developing nations are playing an increasingly important role in world diplomacy and the global economy, but the terms and categories Kupchan uses to describe this phenomenon lead him to provide some rather poor advice.
Freedom House is deeply concerned by news of a violent attack on journalist Yelena Milashina of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and calls on the Russian authorities to investigate the attack and quickly bring to justice those responsible. A Freedom House employee, Ella Asoyan, was also injured in the attack.
Freedom House calls for a peaceful and orderly transition of power in Malawi following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. State media reported on April 5 that the 78-year-old president was hospitalized in the capital city of Lilongwe and then transferred to South Africa for treatment. Although the government has withheld an official announcement, BBC and Reuters cite doctors and cabinet ministers who confirmed the president’s death following cardiac arrest. Under the constitution, Vice President Joyce Banda should assume the presidency until the next elections in 2014.