Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series examining the record of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Part I reviews her domestic policy. Part II will examine her foreign policy. Though often dismissed as the puppet of her exiled brother, Yingluck Shinawatra has survived several critical challenges since becoming Thailand’s first female prime minister in a landslide victory in July 2011 elections. Yet despite initial hopes for reform, the past year and a half have demonstrated that the Yingluck government’s ultimate goal is to maintain its grip on power, and that the successes of Yingluck and her Pheu […]

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Zin Mar Aung, a former political prisoner in Myanmar who is now a candidate for the country’s 2015 parliamentary elections and an activist for women’s rights, was in Washington on Tuesday to raise awareness about the continuing underrepresentation of women in the decision-making bodies of Myanmar’s government. “It is ironic that the face of the Burma democracy movement has been a woman’s face when women in fact have not been allowed to be as central as they need to be in all levels of government,” said Susan Williams, a professor and director of the Center for Constitutional Democracy at the […]

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Until the end of the Cold War in the late-1980s, U.S. policy in East Africa and the Horn tried to balance regional security concerns with support for economic development and mitigating food shortages and famines. The primary goal of U.S. policy in the region was to minimize Soviet influence and that of China, Eastern Europe and Cuba. As the Cold War came to an end, the United States added to its policy agenda the objectives of encouraging democratic governance and improving human rights practices. In the post-Cold War era, the primary U.S. human rights and governance concerns in the region […]

In Bangladesh, daily protests over war crimes tribunals are turning deadly. Thirteen people have died as thousands have demonstrated against what is perceived as a culture of impunity for war crimes allegedly committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Demonstrations have intensified since they began 10 days ago, after Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life in prison. Many protesters see the life sentence as too lenient and are demanding the death penalty for Mollah. Meanwhile, as the government continues to prosecute defendants accused of committing […]

A recent report (.pdf) by the Open Society Justice Initiative provides new insights into the “extraordinary rendition” program the United States operated after 9/11, revealing just how widely the program spanned: More than 130 people were subjected to extraordinary rendition, and more than 50 countries cooperated. The report thus raises important questions about both accountability for past human rights abuses and the future of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Renditions, or the international transfers of individuals without legal process, occurred before 9/11. But they were previously used to transfer suspects for criminal trial. After 9/11, rendition expanded in size and focus; instead […]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa began his visit to India today amid protests over recent statements he made that appeared to rule out political autonomy for Sri Lanka’s Tamil ethnic minority. While the president had previously promised to delegate authority to the provinces, as required by the constitution, while also broadening dialogue with the Tamils, he said in a speech for Sri Lankan Independence Day on Monday that it would not be practical for the island country “to have different administrations based on ethnicity.” Alan Keenan, project director and senior analyst for Sri Lanka at the International Crisis Group, told […]

Last week, a trial court in Guatemala City decided that there was enough evidence to send Efrain Rios Montt, the former Guatemalan general who headed a military dictatorship from 1982 to 1983, and Jose Rodriguez Sanchez, Rios Montt’s former head of military intelligence, to trial. Rios Montt, along with other military chiefs, is accused of masterminding a scorched earth campaign against the Ixil Mayan group in northern Guatemala that resulted in more than 1,700 deaths in 1982-1983. It is the first time a former head of state in the Americas will stand trial for genocide. While the trial in Guatemala […]