Author: Kevin Jon Heller

A few weeks ago, I discussed the critical role accurate translations play in international trials. A recent decision by the ICTY illustrates the point: largely due to a translation error involving a single word, the Appeals Chamber has reduced the sentence of Momir Nikolic, a security and intelligence officer at Srebrenica, from 27 to 20 years. Nikolic was...

On February 27th, the Algerian cabinet, with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika presiding, approved a “Decree Implementing the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation." The key provisions are Articles 44 and 45: Article 44: Citizens who, through their involvement or their determination, contributed to saving Algeria and protecting the nation’s institutions, performed acts of patriotism. Article 45: No legal proceedings may be...

The BBC reports that Ali Farka Toure, the Malian bluesman whose work won two Grammys, has died. Farka Toure's death causes me great sadness; I've loved his music for more than a decade — ever since I first heard his remarkable collaboration with Ry Cooder, "Talking Timbuktu," for which he won his first Grammy. For any fan of...

On February 26th, Afghanistan's National Security Court sentenced Assadulah Sarwari, the former head of the Afghani secret police, to death for ordering the execution of hundreds of anti-communist prisoners during the 1970s. Sarwari is the first senior official to be held accountable for the communist regime's systematic human-rights abuses. Although many Afghanis were understandably overjoyed by Sarwari's...

A dispute is brewing between the Rwandan government and the ICTR over the fact that one of the Tribunal's appointed defense attorneys is himself on Rwanda's "most wanted" list of genocide suspects. The attorney, Callixte Gakwaya, is counsel for Yusuf Munyakazi, a former businessman who is accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Cyangugu and neighbouring Kibuye...

Crisis Watch has issued its March report, which summarizes developments in 70 situations of actual or potential conflict and assesses whether the situations have worsened, improved, or remained the same during the previous month. According to the report, 8 situations worsened and 2 improved. Worsened Nigeria: Security deteriorated with upsurge in religious and political violence. Protests by Muslims against Danish...

As reported by the Guardian — but largely ignored by the U.S. press — the U.S. government agreed Monday to pay $300,000 to an Egyptian man detained in New York following the 9/11 attacks and held in solitary confinement for 10 months without charge. The settlement is the first of its kind. The man, Ehab Elmaghraby, was one of 762...

It may not be the most important international dispute of our time, but a storm is brewing over which country — China or Scotland — invented golf. From the International Herald-Tribune: Did the Chinese invent golf and export it westward centuries before any Scottish shepherd ever thought of making a game out of his forlorn fate? Say something quickly in a...

According to a China Daily report, all death-penalty appeals in China will be held publicly as of July 1, 2006. The move, initiated by the Supreme People's Court, is designed to decrease the number of wrongful convictions by making the appeals process more transparent. Under Chinese law, city-level intermediate courts initially hear cases that could lead to the death penalty....

In the wake of the murder of al-Arabiya correspondent Atwar Bahjat and two of her colleagues, a journalist asked President Jalal Talabani to permit journalists working in Iraq to carry weapons in self-defense. "Send me an official request and I will approve it and inform concerned agencies to give you the right to carry arms," President Talabani replied.The exchange...