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To the Editor:

Re ''International Justice on Trial'' (editorial, June 10):

The challenges judges need to rise to in trying war-crimes cases fairly and efficiently were evident at the opening of the trial of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, which I observed for Human Rights Watch. But the significance of a trial of a former head of state associated with horrendous crimes shouldn't be obscured because the proceedings didn't open without a hitch.

No one said international justice was easy, but it is often essential to ensure that atrocities cannot be committed with impunity. The Sierra Leone war-crimes court faces additional challenges because of the trial's relocation outside Sierra Leone for security concerns. By using video, audio and observation by local journalists and civil society, the court is working to ensure that the communities most affected by the crimes are kept informed.

Charles Taylor's war-crimes trial signals that no one is above the law and puts would-be perpetrators on notice. And thanks to the court's outreach work, that message is getting to the people of West Africa.

Elise Keppler
Counsel, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch
New York, June 11, 2007

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