Author: Kevin Jon Heller

The official languages of the ICTR are English and French. The vast majority of the 1,500 witnesses who have testified before the tribunal, however, speak only Kinyarawanda, the African-Bantu language that is the most widely-spoken language in Rwanda. As the Hirondelle News Agency reports in a fascinating article, the fact that most of the testimony heard by the...

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that prosecutors in Saddam Hussein's trial have produced written orders allegedly signed by Saddam ordering the execution of 140 Shiites in Dujail in 1982. If so, the evidence provides the first concrete link between Saddam and the executions; although numerous witnesses have described how Iraqi 's security forces killed the Shiites in "response"...

On a (somewhat) lighter note, France’s Conseil Constitutionnel has struck down a provision in a 2005 law that required history teachers to stress the “positive aspects” of French colonialism. The Council, which was established in 1958 and is responsible for reviewing the consistency of Acts of Parliament with the Constitution, held that the enacting the provision was outside competence...

Given how unpopular the UN seems to be these days in the US, the results of a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll question about Iran are rather surprising (courtesy of Think Progress):How confident are you in the Bush administration’s ability to handle the situation in Iran? Very or Somewhat Likely: 45% Not Too Confident or Not At All Confident: 55% How...

Though the news is a couple of weeks old, it’s worth calling attention to a unanimous decision by the European Court of Human Rights Court that the Russian Federation violated the European Convention on Human Rights by allowing local police to torture a Russian citizen, Aleksey Mikheyev, and by subsequently failing to adequately investigate his allegations of mistreatment. The...

I completely agree with Julian's dire assessment of the UN Human Rights Commission. But before we get too carried away lauding the U.S.'s reform efforts, it's worth noting that Ambassador Bolton's most recent suggestion for "reform" is to guarantee all five permanent members of the Security Council permanent seats (presumably with veto power) on the new Human Rights Council,...

The U.S. media have done a decent job covering Serbia’s admission that hard-liners in its military are hiding war-crimes suspect General Ratko Mladic, wanted by the ICTY for allegedly orchestrating the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica. There has been relatively little coverage, however, of a particularly interesting aspect of the story: the European Union’s...

The UN and the Cambodian government have set up an administrative office in Phnom Penh for the hybrid tribunal that will try former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, who are accused of murdering nearly 2 million people during the 1970s. The establishment of the office marks the transition from the planning stage to the actual functioning of...

Strange bedfellows indeed. Yahoo News reports that the United States recently voted in favor of an Iranian initiative to deny UN consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT). In May, 2005, two LGBT organizations – the International Gay and Lesbian Association and the Danish National...

In an era in which transnational corporations have become wealthier and more powerful than many countries – GM alone is worth more than 120 – it’s easy to dismiss anti-corporate political activism as naïve, anachronistic, and doomed to failure. But that’s not always true. Case in point: the Bechtel Corporation’s recent abandonment of its claim against Bolivia in...

The Appeals Chamber of the ICTR has unanimously upheld a Trial Chamber's acquittal of Andre Ntagerura and Emmanuel Bagambiki, two high-ranking Rwandan officials, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The charges stemmed from a series of massacres committed in Rwanda's Cyangugu Province in 1994 that killed more than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis. The Trial Chamber held...