Recently two ICL conferences took place in The Hague and Berlin, respectively. The International Bar Association held its Annual Conference on International Criminal Law in The Hague from 31 January to 1 February 2015. A week before, on 24 January 2015, the Association of International Criminal Defence Lawyers Germany e.V. held its 9th Annual Conference in Berlin.
This year the IBA’s Annual Conference on International Criminal Law focused on “International Legal Challenges for 2015” and was held in the Peace Palace in The Hague. 300 delegates joined the two-day conference with a wide range of topics addressed by the different panels:
- Respecting state sovereignty and the ICC – unwilling or unable?
- Russia and Ukraine
- Israel and Gaza, Sri Lanka and LTTE
- ISIS, Supporting Revolution and the International Legal Context of Aiding and Abetting
- Challenges in securing truthful witness testimony in ICL
- Expanding the jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The panelists, with an in-depth insight into these situations, addressed the topics in a BBC Question Time format, responding to questions from the moderators and the audience aimed to inform, challenge and provide answers.
The high-profile panelists, included, amongst others, ICLB and 9 Bedford Row Members Colleen Rohan and Gregor Guy-Smith, who was part of the Isreal and Gaza, Sri Lanla and LTTE panel.
Colleen Rohan sitting on the panel concerning the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was moderated by Steven Kay, QC, stressed that the ICC was meant to be a court of last resort and not the only court in which international crimes could be tried. She further noted that the proposed regional court in Africa would hopefully result in an overall gain to ICL by addressing local issues regionally and having the accused tried in a place which was closer to home, closer to their own culture, language and legal traditions. Colleen highlighted that the criminal code applicable to this regional court represented a progressive step in ICL providing, inter alia, for the prosecution of corporations involved in criminal conduct and for immunity for sitting heads of state.
This year’s annual conference focused on “Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunals” and addressed a number of pertinent issues in the form of different lectures as well as practitioner reports. The speakers included, amongst others, ICLB and 9 Bedford Row members Steven Kay QC and Toby Cadman as well as Jens Dieckmann, Criminal Defense Attorney in Bonn and Associate 9 Bedford Row member.
Steven Kay QC provided an in-depth insight into the principal problems faced by the Defense at the International Tribunals and at the ICC and portrayed how, in his view, political aspects were reflected in the initiation of the proceedings against the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta as well as during the proceedings. The case was finally dropped in 2014. In a nutshell Steven found that: “With Angela Merkel, one would certainly not have done this.”
Toby Cadman provided an in-depth insight into his work in transnational criminal trials and Jens Dieckmann, spoke about his work as a attorney with victims of the civil war in Sudan and portrayed the challenges faced when defending an accused at the Higher Court in Duesseldorf, charged with supporting the FDLR, a Rwandan rebel group.
Blog based on the Press Releases by Ursus Koerner von Gustorf, attorney Berlin.
Photocredit: Matthias Ketzer