Have Laptop, Will Defend

by Kevin Jon Heller

The very first post I wrote for Opinio Juris — more than two years ago, when I was guest-blogging — was about the inequality of arms that exists between the prosecution and defense at the international tribunals. I recall spending hours on the post, mustering facts, honing my arguments, polishing my prose. I was proud of my first contribution — yet its rhetorical power pales in comparison to the following e-mail, received yesterday by one of my students who is interning soon with a defense team at the ICTR:

From: XXXX
Sent: Sunday, 20 April, 2008 11:37:14 PM
Subject: Useful Information in preparation for your internship at the Tribunal

Dear All,

Congratulations once again on having been accepted to the ICTR Internship Programme!

In preparation for your stay in Arusha and for your assignment at the ICTR, please find attached some useful information that may come in handy. Please note especially the following:

1. Once your flight to Arusha is confirmed, please send me your flight details so that I can make arrangements for your pick up from the airport Kilimanjaro International Airport). If you land in Nairobi (Kenya) or in Dar-es-Salaam (Tz) you may take a connecting flight to KIA (about an hour long) or you may take a bus/shuttle. The trip is about 9 hours long from Dar and 5 hours from Nairobi.

2. You will also find attached some accommodation options. You may try to contact the landlords right away, however, I would advise that you first see the places before you finalize your contracts. Please note that there’s a lot more accommodation available than that listed. Some staff members may also be willing to let some rooms in their houses.

3. Remember, you are not obliged to bring a laptop except if you work for the Defence. The Office should be able to provide you a computer to work on.

Should you have any questions concerning your internship, do not hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to meeting all of you soon.

Warm regards,


I rest my case.


3 Responses

  1. I wonder if there is any significant difference in the “inequality of arms that exists between the prosecution and defense at the international tribunals” and the selfsame inequality which exists in the U.S. See, for instance, Angela J. Davis, Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

  2. Grim LOLz. The ICTR intern horror stories never cease.

  3. Oh, but apparently the computers provided for everyone who doesn’t work for the Defense are old and constantly breaking down.

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