Wednesday 28 November 2007
IBA call on the Assembly of States Parties to approve proposed reform of the International Criminal Court's legal aid programme
The International Bar Association (IBA) today called upon the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to approve the proposed reform of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) legal aid programme and the increase to the 2008 legal aid budget. The proposal was initiated by the ICC Registry after evaluating the pre-trial phase of the case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (the first suspect surrendered to the ICC from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)).
The IBA is concerned that the pre-trial phase of the Lubanga case was lengthened due to delays caused by insufficient staff and other administrative challenges faced by the court-assigned defence team. Justice Richard Goldstone, Co-Chair of the IBA Human Rights Institute and past prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda comments: ‘It is important that proceedings before the ICC are conducted expeditiously while safeguarding the rights of the defendants and the victims. To accomplish this, States Parties must commit to providing the resources necessary for the efficient and effective administration of the legal aid programme. Delay is not only costly but has serious consequences for the defendant in custody and undermines the confidence of victims awaiting resolution of the cases.’
In its latest monitoring report, the IBA notes that if adequate resources are not provided to counsel appearing before the ICC, the challenges experienced in the Lubanga case may be repeated in the case of Germain Katanga, the second suspect to be surrendered to the Court from the DRC.
The IBA Report was launched on 27 November at a high level Roundtable discussion on ‘Equality of Arms and the Right to Defence’ organised by the IBA at the historic Peace Palace in The Hague. The event was attended by more than 130 participants, including diplomats, judges, senior ICC officials, representatives of other international tribunals and international non-governmental organisations, lawyers and law professors.
The issue of the allocation of resources to Defence Counsel appearing before the ICC under the legal aid programme was the subject of lively debate at the IBA Roundtable and is likely to also be discussed at the sixth annual ASP meeting to be held in New York between 30 November and 14 December 2007.
In preparing the IBA Monitoring Report, Lorraine Smith, the IBA’s full time monitor in The Hague consulted with many sources including judges and lawyers with experience in international criminal, humanitarian and human rights law, legal and academic experts, non-governmental organisations, diplomatic missions, staff of the ICC and defence counsel. The IBA Report is the third to be issued under this programme and covers the period from November 2006 to October 2007.
The IBA monitors the developments in the cases and situations before the Court under a MacArthur Foundation funded ICC monitoring and outreach programme.
For further information, please contact:
IBA Programme Manager
International Bar Association
The Peace Palace
2517 KJ, The Hague
Tel: +31 (0)70 302 2859
Romana St Matthew - Daniel
International Bar Association
1 Stephen Street
London W1T 1AT
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7691 6868
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7691 6544