The 4th International Meeting of Defence Offices/Counsel was held in London on the 25-26 November 2016. Global Diligence partner Alexandre Prezanti took part in the meeting, joining the working group on the elaboration of a Defence Investigations Manual. The following statement was adopted at the end of the meeting:
Final statement of the Fourth Meetings of Defence Offices
1. The Fourth Meetings of Defence Offices at the International Criminal Courts (the “Meetings”), organised this year in partnership with the International Bar Association (IBA), were held on 25 and 26 November 2016 in London, at Middle Temple and the Law Society respectively, in the presence of Ms Ivana Hrdličková, President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Gathered for the occasion were members of the Defence Offices and Sections of the various international criminal courts, lawyers, representatives of Bar Associations and lawyers’ associations, including Mr Antonios Abou Kasm representing the President of the Beirut Bar Association, as well as members of the academic community and other observers of international criminal justice.
2. The Meetings opened with welcome speeches from Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association (IBA), and from Mr François Roux, Head of Defence Office at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and a keynote speech by His Honour Judge Michael Topolski QC.
3. The Meetings began with an overview of the issues faced by the Defence before the international tribunals over the past year, a session which was chaired by Mr Mark Fenhalls QC, Chairman ex officio of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales. Particular emphasis was placed on the absolute necessity for any investigation under Article 70 of the Rome Statute, which relates to the Defence and members of the Office of the Prosecutor, to be assigned to an independent authority outside the International Criminal Court.
4. The participants also lamented the fact that the voice of the Defence has not been sufficiently heard both outside and within the first international criminal jurisdictions. They noted that in order to remedy that situation, the profession must stand united and speak with one voice and, in that respect, they welcomed the founding of the International Criminal Court Bar Association alongside the Office of Public Counsel for Defence, an independent body, as well as the existence of a Defence Office as an Organ at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
5. With this in mind, the participants worked on two specific projects: the establishment of a Code of Ethics, building on the rich diversity of cultures and professional practices, common to all counsel appearing before international criminal tribunals, and the drafting of a Practical Guide to Defence Investigations. These two projects made significant headway during the Fourth Meetings, and the work will continue within the working groups so that the Joint Code and the Guide to Investigations may be adopted at the Fifth Meetings. The participants also unanimously decided that the subsequent Meetings will henceforth be known as “Meetings of the Defence at the International Criminal Courts”.
6. The Meetings were closed by Mr David Hooper QC, President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association, and Mr François Roux, in the presence of Mr Klaus Rackwitz, Director of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. On behalf of the Academy, Mr Rackwitz extended an invitation for the Fifth Meetings to be held in Nuremberg, in Courtroom 600 of the historic tribunal.
7. The Meetings wish to express their gratitude to Dr Mark Ellis and the International Bar Association (IBA) for their invaluable and outstanding partnership in enabling them to pursue their work in London, and gratefully accept the invitation from Mr Klaus Rackwitz. The Fifth Meetings will therefore be held in Nuremberg, in the autumn of 2017.
London, 26 November 2016