Recent Events: Geneva meeting on Defence Offices at the International Criminal Courts; Skopje evidence training


Geneva meeting: Defence Offices at the International Criminal Courts

On 22 and 23 October 2015, Michael G. Karnavas participated in the Third International Meeting of Defence Offices at the International Criminal Courts in Geneva, Switzerland.

During a Round Table session on the Overview of the issues faced by the defence before the international criminal courts, Karnavas addressed the lack of meaningful right to counsel in seeking post-conviction relief at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which have phased into the Mechanism for International Tribunals (MICT). According to the MICT Registry, it will only grant legal aid for post-conviction issues in exceptional circumstances and only after a judicial order. Former Accused and convicted persons may engage pro bono Counsel to represent them before the MICT. The absence of an entitlement to legal assistance does not prevent the MICT from assisting convicted persons in obtaining Counsel to assist with post-conviction matters and the Registry is therefore currently establishing a list of pro bono Counsel. As Karnavas bluntly explained: If Defence Counsel want to work for free, MICT will let them, although MICT will not even promise to appoint that Counsel if there is an issue that warrants appointment.  Ludicrous.

As the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Karnavas also informed the participants about the ongoing drafting of a constitution and efforts to create a Bar Association for List Counsel and their Staff at the International Criminal Court (ICCBA).

After lively debates on the summaries of topics discussed, final declarations were adopted.   Though aspirational and unlikely to materialize in the foreseeable future, the declarations do highlight ongoing and systemic concerns by international criminal defence lawyers practicing before the ad hoc tribunals and the ICC.

Skopje training on evidence

From 24 to 31 October 2015, Michael G. Karnavas conducted a series of tailored full-day trainings for criminal defense lawyers of Macedonian Bar Association, Skopje, Macedonia, organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission to Skopje. Karnavas developed the training curriculum and materials, and delivered the training for a pool of 100 lawyers on effective criminal defense, general principles of evidence and evidentiary objections. This training follows the last year’s three-day training of trainers on the very same topic and the continuing legal education for lawyers (CLE) assessment and recommendations report, supported by OSCE in December 2014. Both trainings were prepared in connection with the implementation of the new Law on the Criminal Procedure (LCP), which introduced the adversarial modalities into the previously inquisitorial Macedonian legal system.

Apart from the trainings, Karnavas attended a coordination meeting with the LCP Commentary Working Group at the OSCE mission to Skopje headquarters, discussing the drafting of the official Commentary to the evidentiary articles in the new LCP. As part of the OSCE project for November 2015, Karnavas is engaged in developing a research on “reasonable doubt / in dubio pro reo principle from a common law perspective” and an E-learning course and examination on ethics and professional responsibilities for Macedonian Bar Association.

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