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About Michael G. Karnavas

photogallery6-michael-courtroom-18-jul-12-3Michael G. Karnavas is an American trained lawyer. He is licensed in Alaska and Massachusetts and is qualified to appear before the various international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court (ICC). Residing and practicing primarily in The Hague, he is recognized as an expert in international criminal defence, including, pre-trial, trial, and appellate advocacy.  Click here to visit Michael’s web site.

Michael G. Karnavas lectures students at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies on the role of defence counsel:

 

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News and Events

  • On 24 February 2017, the Edward Elgar Publishing published a chapter co-authored by Kate Gibson, John RWD Jones QC, Michael G. Karnavas and Melinda Taylor, titled Regulation of the International Bar: The Particular Challenges for Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Courts and Tribunalsin Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals (William A. Schabas and Shannonbrooke Murphy eds., 2017). This chapter examines and evaluates the different structures (independent, internal and external) protecting and regulating the defence profession at the various international and mixed criminal courts and tribunals, and identifies defects and lacunae in the current infrastructure.
  • In November-December 2016, Michael G. Karnavas was selected by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia as the International Consultant to make an assessment and submit a report with specific proposals for reform and improvement of the institutional and regulatory framework of the Attorney’s Academy (Academy) of the Bar Association of Serbia (BAS), and to recommend a detailed program for the organization of the training activities and a strategic plan for a long term (2-3 years) Continuing Legal Education program.  The BAS is a national “umbrella” bar for eight regional bars with approx. 8000 members. The BAS established the Academy in 2013 for the purpose of providing professional training for Serbian lawyers and trainees.  As part of the assessment, Mr. Karnavas went on two field visits (5-7 December and 18-21 December 2016) to conduct a series of interviews with the representatives of the BAS, the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Academy, civil societies, and NGOs. Mr. Karnavas submitted a preliminary report 29 December 2016.

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Kosovo Specialist Chambers – Part 1: its Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence in a nutshell

A new internationalized tribunal, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (“KSC”), is poised to open its doors for business: indicting, arresting, prosecuting and so on. The KSC was established to try crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other crimes under Kosovo law committed by persons of Kosovo/Yugoslav citizenship or against persons of Kosovo/Yugoslav citizenship between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000 in the territory of Kosovo.1   See Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, Arts. 6-9, 13-15. Though located in The Hague, the KSC is a specialized chamber within the Kosovo Judiciary, much like the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”) which is an extraordinary chamber within the Cambodian judiciary.2   “Unlike the other United Nations and United Nations-assisted tribunals, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia forms part of the national court structure. It is a Cambodian national court, based on the French civil law system, with special jurisdiction, and with United Nations participation. It is an example of a special chamber within a national jurisdiction…. [It] is a national court of Cambodia.” United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on possible options to further the aim of prosecuting and imprisoning persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, including, in particular, options for creating special domestic chambers possibly with international components, a regional tribunal or an international tribunal and corresponding imprisonment arrangements, taking into account the work of the Contact Group on Piracy of the Coast of Somalia, the existing practice in establishing international and mixed tribunals, and the time and resources necessary to achieve and sustain substantive results, U.N. Doc. S/2010/394, 26 July 2010, pp. 42-43. The KSC is hybrid in that it has common law and civil law modalities, applying both Kosovo law and international law.   Continue reading “Kosovo Specialist Chambers – Part 1: its Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence in a nutshell”

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Opinion: Due Process Not Negotiable, Even in Khmer Rouge Tribunal

On May 15, 2017, The Cambodia Daily published an opinion piece by Michael G. Karnavas.  The piece appears below:

The Cambodia Daily

Opinion: Due Process Not Negotiable, Even in Khmer Rouge Tribunal

MAY 15, 2017

By Michael G. Karnavas 1   Michael G. Karnavas is a criminal defense lawyer. He was the co-lawyer for Ieng Sary at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and is now Meas Muth’s international co-lawyer in Case 003 at the ECCC.

Last week it was revealed that the Co-Investigating Judges (CIJ) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) confidentially informed the parties in Cases 003, 004, and 004/02 and the Office of Administration that they were considering invoking what amounts to a nuclear option: a permanent stay of the proceedings due to a lack of funding. Submissions were invited.

Court-watchers and “experts” immediately weighed in with claims of political interference. Judge Martin Karopkin, a reserve Judge of the Trial Chamber, joined the fray. Disquieting as his remarks may be, I admire Judge Karopkin’s honesty. Continue reading “Opinion: Due Process Not Negotiable, Even in Khmer Rouge Tribunal”

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Book Review — A WORLD IN DISARRAY: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.

Book Review

A WORLD IN DISARRAY: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order. By Richard Haass. 330 pages. Penguin Press, 2017. $28.00.

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” John F. Kennedy, US President1   Speech delivered at Americans for Democratic Action convention, Washington, DC, 12 May 1961, quoted in “Times Call for Liberal Actions, Says Kennedy,” Lodi (CA) News-Sentinel, 13 May 1961.

Richard Haass

There is a reason why Richard Haass is serving a fourteenth term as President of the highly regarded, independent, nonpartisan US think tank the Council on Foreign Relations. It comes across when reading his latest book, A World in Disarray. His historical and political analysis is lucid and nuanced, offering thought-provoking advice on dealing with the most pressing events of our time. US President Donald Trump would be well advised to read this book and take heed of Haass’s views. Continue reading “Book Review — A WORLD IN DISARRAY: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.”

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COURTING DUTERTE: pragmatic diplomacy or reckless abandonment?

Much ado about …

Much too much is being made of U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House invitation to Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines.

What’s wrong with the invite?

The enemy of your enemy should be your friend. Was it not after all Duterte who called President Trump’s nemesis, former US President Barack Obama “a son of a whore” and some other choice words?  To someone who questioned Obama’s birth place (and kept at it even in the face of uncontroverted evidence) Duterte’s disparaging and vulgar remarks against Obama must have been hugely delighting. Continue reading “COURTING DUTERTE: pragmatic diplomacy or reckless abandonment?”

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‘THE SITUATION OF MASS MURDER IN THE PHILIPPINES, RODRIGO DUTERTE: THE MASS MURDER’: testing the ICC-OTP

It was only a matter of time.

Just as Duterte was entreating a crowd at a public gathering “Give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat his [terrorist] liver” because he is “50 times harder” than ISIS, a communication was being lodged against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly murdering thousands of Filipinos in his war on drugs. 8000 victims and counting1The communication claims that based on official statistics from the Philippine National Police, there were more than 7000 drug-related killings by police and unknown armed persons from 1 July 2016 to 21 January 2017. The Situation Of Mass Murder In The Philippines Rodrigo Duterte: The Mass Murderer, by Jude Josue L. Sabio, p. 8. since elected as President of the Philippines in May 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has turned hubris – a crime in ancient Greece from the time of Solon in the 6th century BC – into an art form. Continue reading “‘THE SITUATION OF MASS MURDER IN THE PHILIPPINES, RODRIGO DUTERTE: THE MASS MURDER’: testing the ICC-OTP”

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Russia argues no specific direction for the downing of Flight MH17

On 7 March 2017, Samuel Wordsworth QC, one of Russia’s lawyers appearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Ukraine v. Russian Federation, argued that Russia could not possibly be held responsible for shooting down Flight MH17 because there is no evidence (as if one would expect to find a memo to the rebels) that Russia “provided weaponry to any party with the intent or knowledge that such weaponry be used to shoot down a civilian aircraft, as would of course be required under Article 2(1).”1 International Court of Justice, CR 2017/2, in the case concerning Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation), Transcript Oral hearing, 7 March 2017, submissions by Mr. Wordsworth for Russian Federation, p. 35. Article 2(1) of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism provides: “Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person by any means, directly or indirectly, unlawfully and wilfully, provides or collects funds with the intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out: (a) An act which constitutes an offence within the scope of and as defined in one of the treaties listed in the annex; or (b) Any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”

Rather rich, as arguments go.

The subtext of Wordsworth’s argument is that yes, Russia provided weapons – including the type that shot down MH17 – and yes, the rebels (or freedom-fighters or whatever denomination one affixes to them) were expected to use those weapons, but no, Russia did not authorize or specifically direct them to shoot at civilian aircraft. Continue reading “Russia argues no specific direction for the downing of Flight MH17”

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Striking Syria: is there international law or is there only power?

Was President Trump legally justified in striking Syria over Assad’s use of chemical weapons?

In February 2014, I was invited by the Brown University International Organization to hold a seminar: Red lines and Game Changers – The Legality of Unilateral or Collective Use of Force in Syria. The topic was inspired by President Obama’s public pronouncement that any use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would cross a read line, bringing to bear a military reaction by the U.S. with or without approval from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Continue reading “Striking Syria: is there international law or is there only power?”

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And the waiting goes on …

Oral arguments in Prlić et al. concluded this Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeals Chamber – some 12 years since I began representing Dr. Jadranko Prlić.  The Appeal Judgement is expected by November.  When all is said and done, it will have taken over 13 years from the time the accused turned themselves over to the ICTY to the conclusion of the appeal proceedings.

What a journey!  Lawyers, assistants, investigators, and interns have come and gone.  Babies born, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers departed. Heart attacks suffered, kidneys replaced, weight gained, hair lost. Engagements, affairs, marriages, and divorces. And wrinkles, lots of wrinkles. No one spared. Continue reading “And the waiting goes on …”

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Sentencing Judgment in Article 70 case at the ICC: No accumulation of sentences, suspended sentences & deduction of time

On 22 March 2017, the Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) pronounced the sentences in the Bemba et al. Article 70 case, following its judgment on 19 October 2016, where it found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Narcisse Arido guilty of various offenses against the administration of justice in Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Main Case).

Three interesting points came out of the sentencing: 1) even if an accused is convicted of multiple Article 70 offenses, the maximum sentence he or she can face is five years; 2) the Trial Chamber has inherent discretionary power to suspend a sentence; and 3) time may be deducted in cases where the accused is already serving his or her sentence in another case. Continue reading “Sentencing Judgment in Article 70 case at the ICC: No accumulation of sentences, suspended sentences & deduction of time”

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Bakir Izetbegović’s political stunt quashed by the International Court of Justice

The Court duly examined the various communications described above. The Court considered that their content demonstrates that no decision has been taken by the competent authorities, on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a State, to request the revision of the Judgment of 26 February 2007 in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia), and that it is therefore not properly seised of the matter. Accordingly, no action can be taken with regard to the document entitled “Application for revision of the Judgment of 26 February 2007 in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia)”1 International Court of Justice, Press Release No. 2017/12, Document entitled “Application for revision of the Judgment of 26 February 2007 in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia)”, Statement by H.E. Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the International Court of Justice, 9 March 2017, p. 2.

As predicted, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) made short work of the so-called Bosnian application to have the 2007 decision in the Serbia Genocide case revised (reconsidered).  Swiftly and unceremoniously, Bakir Izetbegović’s request was dismissed for what it was: a divisive political ploy to garner publicity, devoid of any legal grounding and – surprise, surprise –  ultra vires to boot. Continue reading “Bakir Izetbegović’s political stunt quashed by the International Court of Justice”

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