On December 4-5 2013, the French Bar Association along with François Roux, the Head of the Defence Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), hosted the First International Meeting of Defence Offices. The discussions provided a forum to exchange ideas concerning various challenges defence counsel face before the international criminal tribunals, especially the “difficulty of ensuring that the defence is recognised as one of the essential pillars of a fair and credible justice system.”
These feel-good congregations are useful for inspiring defence lawyers to bond over common concerns. Occasionally they produce aspirational declarations – emphasis on aspirational. Understandably, Final Declarations were proclaimed at this gathering. From the Final Declarations, two specific matters are worth commenting on: a. the need for a defence section to be an organ of the tribunal (as at the STL); and b. the recent events in the Bemba case, where part of the defence team was arrested for witness tampering. Reticent to intrude, since I did not attend the conference, I’ve decided to weigh in with my thoughts, annoying as they may be. Continue reading “Reflections on the Final Declaration of the First International Meeting of Defence Offices”
During the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia’s (ECCC) Trial Management Meeting on Case 002, held December 11 and 12, the Trial Chamber entertained us with a marvelously farcical tragedy: Nothing ado about much, or, Why there will not be a Case 002/02, although we will pretend there will be one to keep hope alive.
It was captivating to see (and hear) how the judges came armed with all the answers as to why they could not possibly begin to hear evidence in Case 002/02 (as if they had even figured out what segments of Case 002 would even be heard) before completing the judgment in Case 002/01.
Where have they been, and what have they been doing? When did this occur to them? Why was this issue not addressed during the protracted (albeit belated) hearings on the legitimacy of the severance of Case 002? Why the pretense of this public trial management meeting? And, why delay discussing the proverbial elephant in the (court)room: When and to what extent will the next segment of Case 002 be tried?
Regrettably, this farcical comedy was about a real tragedy: The current judges of the ECCC’s Trial Chamber are not genuinely serious in trying the remaining segments of Case 002.
In his comment to my 12 December post on the The New RPE 134 Provisions, our colleague Boniface Njiru makes some insightful observations on Article 27 of the ICC Statute.The ICC Statute was a work in progress for many years. Drafted by committee and based on political compromises, there are some who claim that it reflects what is (or should be) considered customary international law (CIL). This is an overreach; the jury, as it were, is still out on this. We saw this played out recently over Bashir: while accepting that he had no immunity at the ICC because of the ICC Statute, CIL continues to allow heads of state personal immunity, with some claiming, rather credibly, that a State would be violating CIL by arresting Bashir and turning him in to the ICC for prosecution (see e.g. http://www.crimesofwar.org/commentary/the-icc-bashir-and-the-immunity-of-heads-of-state/).
One thing is certain since Nuremberg: little or no quarter was to be given to political and military leaders for committing acts recognized as international crimes by the community of mankind. Thus, it was to be expected that no political leader, sitting or otherwise, would be immune from prosecution before the ICC. That was the intent of all those who signed on to the Rome Statute, eyes wide open.
Michael 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:
Much of the commentary on the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) added provisions to Rules 134 (bis, ter and quater) of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), which ease the requirement for an accused to be physically present at trial, has been disdainful. But before we consider potential effects of these new provisions, or lack thereof, let’s first look at the substance. Does the ICC Statute permit the Rules to be amended so accused – political leaders, no less – can be excused from attending parts of their trials due to “exceptional circumstances” or because of “extraordinary public duties”? Were the amendments necessary? Did the ASP exercise sound judgment? Though the answers to these questions seem to be yes, guarded cynicism is justified. From time to time, trial chambers will no doubt be tempted by the political siren calls for accommodation and realpolitik. Implementing these added provisions to Rule 134 will require prudence, finesse and judiciousness. As they saying goes: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Last Saturday, November 30, the Association of Defence Counsel (ADC-ICTY) held its annual General Assembly. As in the past, it was preceded by a training session, though this year was a bit different. While past trainings have been about trial and appellate skills, substantive law, procedural amendments and ethics, this year is was all about the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, or MICT, or just Mechanism. Ditto for the General Assembly. By constitutional requirement, the ADC must hold a General Assembly to account the past year’s events and achievements, and to plan for the coming year’s challenges. And so, the Mechanism was much on our mind.
This year’s training was more of an exploration of thoughts and concerns about manner and means; the mechanisms of the Mechanism, if you will. The Mechanism essentially mirrors the Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the ICTY and ICTR. Substantively, little seems to be different. Yet, questions abound. As the ICTY transitions into the MICT (currently coexisting while the ICTY cases are coming to completion), most are concerned with post-conviction relief issues – especially how an aging, far flung population of inmates will be served when no compensation of counsel is required under existing ICTY jurisprudence, though as a matter of past practice a few hours could be granted depending upon circumstances. Not encouraging. Continue reading “ADC-ICTY holds its General Assembly: transitioning into the MICT”
On 29 November 2013 the ADC-ICTY held its first and only legacy conference … in The Hague.
For over a year, significant efforts were made to get funding for a set of ADC-ICTY legacy conferences to be staged in the affected republics of the former Yugoslavia. Requests for financial assistance were sent to countless embassies and academic institutions. Only the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and the Law Faculty of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam responded; the former offering financial assistance for the publication of a text on the conference, and the latter providing financial assistance to cover the cost of hosting the conference in The Hague. There would be no road show, no Q&A from the folks most impacted by the ICTY, no opportunity for the lawyers of the damned to be heard in situ. Just this one chance. And, not because of any real encouragement and support from the ICTY (not when one considers this institution’s boundless self-indulgent self-promotion, much to the exclusion of the Defence), but despite the lack of it. Continue reading “The ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference: Lawyers for the damned ruminate and reminisce”
The Association of Defence Counsel Practicing Before the ICTY (“ADC”), established under Dutch law, came into existence on 20 September 2002 when it held its first General Assembly. With the blessings of the ICTY Judges at their July 2002 plenary meeting, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence were amended to require counsel’s membership in the ADC. Essentially, the ADC has been the Bar for some 350 plus counsel at the ICTY. While not always appreciated for its true worth, the ADC has lived up to much of the expectations by providing a unified voice championing the causes of Defence Counsel and of their client’s fair trial rights.
As promised, a few days ago I circulated the draft constitution I have been working on for the past month. (Links to Draft: English / French) There was no real need to re-invent the wheel and start from scratch. I took as a base the ADC-ICTY Constitution. While not perfect and certainly limited to the ICTY matrix, it has been tried and tested. Based on my experience both as a member and having served on numerous ADC-ICTY committees, including three years on the Executive Committee, two of which as President, I believe this document provides a solid point of departure. Last year I forwarded it to the Coordinators of the ALC-ICC, recommending its utility. Continue reading “A draft Constitution for the Bar of List Counsel: Let the discussions begin!”