Top of the Morning: Striking South African Miners Charged With Murder; Food Prices Soar

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest. Visit DAWNS Digest for the full global developing world news update.

South African Striking Miners Charged with Murder

South African authorities are using an apartheid-era law to prosecute striking miners for the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot to death by police last week. Needless to say, this is causing considerable controversy. “National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego told the BBC the 270 workers would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd. ‘This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities,’ he said. South African lawyer Jay Surju told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that the ‘common purpose’ doctrine was used by the former white minority regime against activists fighting for racial equality in South Africa. ‘This is a very outdated and infamous doctrine,’  he said. ‘It was discredited during the time of apartheid.’” (BBC

World Food Prices Jump 10%

Some disturbing news from the World Bank. “World food prices jumped 10 percent in July as drought parched crop lands in the United States and Eastern Europe, the World Bank said in a statement urging governments to shore up programs that protect their most vulnerable populations. From June to July, corn and wheat prices rose by 25 percent each, soybean prices by 17 percent, and only rice prices went down, by 4 percent, the World Bank said on Thursday. Overall, the World Bank’s Food Price Index, which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities, was 6 percent higher than in July of last year, and 1 percent over the previous peak of February 2011…’We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices,’ World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. ‘Countries must strengthen their targeted programs to ease the pressure on the most vulnerable population, and implement the right policies.’” (Reuters