Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, center, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, right, attend a ceremony to destroy a haul of seized cocaine, in Katunayaka, Sri Lanka, Jan. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world. In February, job advertisements appeared in Sri Lankan newspapers, soliciting male candidates between 18 and 45 years old. According to The Associated Press, the posting said applicants must be male Sri Lankan citizens of “excellent moral character” who can pass a test certifying their “mental strength.” The position? Hangman. For over four decades, majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka has maintained a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty, even as judges continued to hand down death sentences for murder and drug trafficking […]

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini poses during a group photo of foreign ministers from the EU and the Eastern Partnership, Brussels, May 13, 2019 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

Starting today and continuing through Sunday, voters across Europe head to the polls to elect a new European Parliament. But this year will bring about more than just a new group of lawmakers in the European Union’s only directly elected body. There will be bigger changes at the top of the EU, with both Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, leaving their posts in October. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, will also step down in November. For foreign policy observers, however, all eyes are on […]

Ugandan soldiers patrol through the Central African jungle during an operation to hunt notorious Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, April 19, 2012 (Photo by Yannick Tylle for dpa via AP Images).

GULU, Uganda—On a Monday morning in March, dozens of people gathered outside the courthouse in this hot, dusty city in northern Uganda. They sipped passion fruit juice as they prepared to watch legal proceedings projected on a canvas screen, which had been set up in the shade. Inside and up three flights of stairs, journalists and representatives of various development organizations pressed together on wooden benches in the courtroom. Lawyers, dressed in black robes, made small talk, though their easy laughter clashed with the gravity of the matter at hand. The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo was about to begin. Kwoyelo, […]

Amnesty International activists protest against human rights violations in Egypt and for freedom of expression on the sidelines of the Egyptian president’s visit to Berlin, Germany, Oct. 29, 2018 (Photo by Paul Zinken for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series about press freedom and safety in various countries around the world. The space not just for press freedom but freedom of expression of any kind has dramatically shrunk in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who took power in a coup in 2013.* Egypt was hardly a bastion of a free and fair press under previous regimes, but under Sisi, government entities have consolidated their control over nearly every major media outlet. Journalists of all affiliations and nationalities also face a variety of threats to their safety, including harassment, arrests, […]

A man and a woman look at images of people who have been disappeared in the context of Mexico’s fight against drug cartels and organized crime, Mexico City, May 10, 2019 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).

Mexico’s drug policies could be in for some sweeping changes, and with them the country’s relations with the United States. Last week, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that his administration would seek to revise the Merida Initiative, the $3 billion U.S. aid package that has largely funded Mexico’s war on drugs. In a press conference May 9, Lopez Obrador, widely known in Mexico as AMLO, said his administration does not “want aid for the use of force, we want aid for development.” The announcement came shortly after the Mexican government released a National Development Plan for the next five […]

Members of the Muisca indigenous community take part in a demonstration against Colombian President Ivan Duque’s government’s National Development Plan, in Bogota, Colombia, April 25, 2019 (Photo by Yulieth Rincon for dpa via AP Images).

Since President Ivan Duque took office last summer, Colombia has seen an uptick in violence against human rights advocates and community leaders, particularly from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. Observers point to the Duque administration’s hostility toward the landmark peace accord with the country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, that was struck in 2016. The agreement contained a number of provisions designed to protect the country’s vulnerable groups, but the Duque administration is refusing to implement them. In an interview with WPR, Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, director for the Andes at the Washington Office on Latin America, […]

Members of the Serbian gendarmerie stand guard in front of the Serbian presidency building in Belgrade, Serbia, March 17, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

Anti-government protests have been taking place every week in Serbia since late last year, underscoring widespread frustrations with the government and concerns about President Aleksandar Vucic’s consolidated hold on power. Vucic and his political party, the Serbian Progressive Party, have been content to shrug off the protests and cite them as evidence that, contrary to what his critics may say, dissent is alive and well in the country. Yet as Aleks Eror points out in this week’s in-depth report, the president can respond dismissively to the protests precisely because of the strength of his political position and his ability to […]

A supporter of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic waves Serbian flags and shouts slogans during a rally to counter months of anti-government protests in Belgrade, Serbia, April 19, 2019 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—The night in mid-March when protesters stormed the headquarters of Serbia’s public broadcaster began like many recent Saturday nights in the Serbian capital. Weekly protests against the government of President Aleksandar Vucic had entered their fourth month, and several thousand people turned out for a mile-long march across the city. They planned to vent their frustrations over escalating political violence and democratic backsliding in the country. The previous 14 protests had largely unfolded without incident, and there was no reason to believe this one would be any different. But as protesters made a pit stop in front of Radio […]

Gabriela Hernandez, executive director of the nonprofit New Mexico Dream Team, holds up an image of Roxana Hernandez, a Honduran transgender woman who died in U.S. custody, Albuquerque, N.M., June 6, 2018 (AP photo by Mary Hudetz).

The desperation of daily life in Honduras is driving thousands of people to join other Central American migrants in their long march northward toward what they hope is asylum and safety in the United States. Yet the situation is especially grave for those who are LGBT, in particular gender non-conforming men and minors. Perhaps that was why the first people to reach the U.S. border in the widely publicized migrant caravan last November were 85 LGBT people. “LGBT people band together to protect each other,” says Aaron Morris, the executive director of Immigration Equality, which advocates for LGBT immigrants to […]

Supporters of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa attend a rally organized for the white community in Harare, July 21, 2018 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

One of the promises Emmerson Mnangagwa made after becoming Zimbabwe’s president in late 2017 was to reach a compromise on one of the most divisive issues in the country: how to compensate the estimated 4,500 white farmers whose property was violently expropriated under Robert Mugabe. But Mnangagwa’s attempts to take a more conciliatory tone risk creating new divisions and reopening old wounds. Mnangagwa is trying to strike a nearly impossible balance, treating the land seizures under Mugabe’s so-called fast track land reform program as “irreversible” while offering “appropriate compensation” to dispossessed white farmers, but only for improvements they made to […]

Uighur security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in western China’s Xinjiang region, Nov. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. The United States has offered its harshest assessment yet of the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang autonomous region. Speaking at a press briefing Friday, Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said China is “using the security forces for mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps.” Pressed on his use of the term “concentration camps,” Schriver defended it as “appropriate.” He also said that “at least a million but likely […]

Antonio Garcia, a negotiator for the National Liberation Front, a Colombian rebel group, left, and Israel Ramirez Pineda, the group’s commander, at a press conference, Caracas, Venezuela, March 30, 2016 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

HAVANA, Cuba—A judge in Colombia last week ordered President Ivan Duque to notify the United Nations Security Council about the progress made in peace talks with guerrillas from the National Liberation Army, or ELN, which the government ended earlier this year in the wake of an ELN bombing. The ruling came after two senior Colombian politicians had sued Duque, claiming that he had neglected to inform the U.N. and the guarantor countries—Venezuela, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Norway—about the state of the negotiations. The judge said that Duque had failed to “give substantive explanations or reasons” for suspending the talks. The […]

Guatemalan military officers carry the coffin of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt to his burial site at a cemetery in Guatemala City, April 1, 2018 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

It has been more than two decades since the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala came to a close. Yet in both countries, transitional justice is still a goal, rather than a reality, and recent progress risks being undermined by powerful forces intent on blocking accountability. For this week’s in-depth report, Anna-Catherine Brigida spoke with survivors of civil war-era atrocities who have campaigned—in some cases successfully—to make the alleged perpetrators of those atrocities stand trial. She also examined efforts by officials allied with former military regimes to use legislation and the courts to revive amnesty provisions. In this week’s […]

A banner depicting slain Guatemalan Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi at a rally to mark the 12th anniversary of his murder in Guatemala City, April 26, 2010 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

LA JOYA, El Salvador—On a Thursday morning in October 2017, Rosario Lopez, a 72-year-old Salvadoran woman with square wire-rimmed glasses and dark, gray-speckled hair pulled into a bun, took the stand in a small courtroom in northeastern El Salvador. She had been called to provide testimony in a trial stemming from the worst atrocity of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. The massacre had unfolded in and around the small mountain village of El Mozote in December 1981, still in the early period of a grueling, grinding conflict between the military government, which took power in a coup in 1979, and […]

A man rides past soldiers securing a Muslim neighborhood following overnight clashes, Negombo, Sri Lanka, May 6, 2019 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

The fallout from the coordinated suicide bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, which the Islamic State claimed responsibility for, is likely to reverberate across South Asia. With the threat of more attacks still looming, according to U.S. officials, and the surprising reemergence of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will the Islamic State seize on South Asia as the new ground zero in what al-Baghdadi, in his video last week, called its “war of attrition”? The answer will depend in large part on whether leaders in the region resist the temptation to overreact and don’t give in to the […]

Benin’s president, Patrice Talon, arrives at the “Compact With Africa” conference in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 30, 2018 (Photo by Annegret Hilse for dpa via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. It has been clear for weeks that opposition leaders and outside observers were unlikely to quietly accept the results of this week’s legislative elections in Benin, which took place under highly unusual circumstances. In accordance with revised electoral rules, the opposition was excluded entirely, and only two parties were allowed to participate, both of them aligned with President Patrice Talon. Given the pride Benin’s political class takes in its reputation for having a strong democracy, there was some speculation […]

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Jan. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

In mid-April, a panel of judges at the International Criminal Court rejected Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity that may have been committed during the long U.S. war in Afghanistan. Ahead of the decision, the Trump administration had waged an aggressive campaign against the case, which threatened to reveal atrocities committed by U.S. forces, including American troops and Central Intelligence Agency officials. Though the ICC judges acknowledged that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in Afghanistan, they determined that a successful investigation was not feasible. Essentially, they acknowledged […]

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