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ICC Independent Expert Review group called on to strengthen fair trials and equality of arms

The International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court & International Criminal Law Programme (IBA ICC & ICL Programme) has submitted extensive recommendations to the Group of Independent Experts regarding urgent fair trial concerns at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The submissions draw on the IBA ICC & ICL Programme’s monitoring of fairness and equality of arms at the ICC since 2005.

The Group of Independent Experts (the ‘Experts’), chaired by Justice Richard Goldstone, was established in December 2019 by the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties to make ‘concrete, achievable and actionable recommendations, aimed at enhancing the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of the Court and the Rome Statute system as a whole’.

Editorial credit Roman Yanushevsky,

Dr Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director, stated: ‘The ICC is investigating and prosecuting the most serious crimes in entrenched conflicts around the world. The need for the ICC to be strong and credible is clear, and its credibility depends on its ability to deliver fair trials in line with the Rome Statute and internationally recognised human rights. This Independent Expert Review is an opportunity to strengthen the ICC’s delivery of fair trials and address structural and legal barriers to equality of arms.’

The recommendations call on the Experts to improve the administration of legal aid, increase structural and administrative support for defence counsel, and amend the legal framework to address provisions affecting fair trials. The recommendations also encourage the evaluation of states’ roles providing crucial support to the Court where lack of state cooperation undermines fairness.

Ms Kate Orlovsky, Director of the IBA ICC & ICL Programme, commented: ‘Fair trials are a fundamental requirement of justice, and fair trial issues cut across all aspects of the ICC’s work. While the Experts are seeking to improve the ICC’s governance, judiciary, prosecutions and investigations, it is essential that they always have an eye on fairness and how any proposed changes will affect the rights of the accused.’

The IBA ICC & ICL Programme calls on the Experts to conduct the review in a transparent, comprehensive and inclusive manner, to present recommendations that are evidence-based, and to make their interim report available for comments by civil society organisations and external counsel before the report is finalised.

ENDS Notes to the Editor

  1. Click here to download a PDF of the submission to the Group of Independent Experts.

  2. Related material: Click here to read the article ‘International rule of law: review aims to strengthen ICC’s ability to deliver justice’.

  3. About the IBA International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme: The International Bar Association commenced the ICC & ICL Programme in 2005. The Programme monitors issues related to fairness and equality of arms at the ICC and other Hague-based war crimes tribunals, and encourages the legal community to engage with the work of these courts. The IBA’s work includes thematic legal analysis of proceedings, and ad hoc evaluations of legal, administrative and institutional issues that could potentially affect the rights of defendants, the impartiality of proceedings and the development of international justice. The ICC & ICL Programme also acts as the interface between the Courts and the global legal community. As such, special focus is placed on monitoring emerging issues of particular relevance to lawyers and collaborating with key partners on specific activities to increase engagement of the legal community on ICC and ICL issues. Programme information is disseminated through regular reports, expert discussions, workshops and other events and expert legal analysis on issues relevant to our mandate. Based in The Hague, the ICC & ICL Programme consults and interacts with court officials, civil society organisations, academics and international lawyers.

  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

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PDF of the IBA-Submission-to-IER-on-ICC-April-2020

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