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Press Release: ICCBA Welcomes New Legal Aid Policy but Requests States to Reinsert Crucial Language


THE HAGUE – The ICCBA welcomes the indication that the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) will adopt the proposed new legal aid policy at its 22nd Session. The legal aid system at the ICC has endured a decade without change, and this reform is much needed and long overdue. While applauding positive changes, such as providing basic labour rights and improving team composition, the ICCBA expresses concern about the removal of crucial language from the proposed, amended policy.

Specifically, the ICCBA deeply regrets the removal of language referring to ensuring ‘a degree of equivalence’ between the compensation of legal team members with positions in the Office of the Prosecutor. This language, included in the current legal aid policy (paragraph 83), conveyed to list counsel and external team members that their work holds equal importance and requires commensurate skill, professionalism and responsibility in advancing fair, international proceedings as the work of the staff of the Office of the Prosecutor and the staff of the Office for Public Counsel for Victims (when appointed as legal representative for victims), justifying comparable remuneration.

Furthermore, the ICCBA expresses its disappointment in the removal of the explicit mention of the principle of equality of arms from the legal aid section of the draft omnibus resolution to be adopted at the ASP’s 22nd Session. This principle is fundamental to the pursuit of justice at the ICC and should be reinstated before the adoption of the resolution.

The ICCBA calls upon States Parties to reconsider and reinstate these crucial elements in both the new legal aid policy and the omnibus resolution. This will ensure that the legal aid system at the ICC reflects a commitment to equality and fairness.

The ICCBA appreciates the efforts of States Parties and the Registry to improve the legal aid system and reaffirms its dedication to continued collaboration in further enhancements. In 2024, the ICCBA will continue its efforts to insist that States Parties and the Registry improve the remuneration of external team members. Despite receiving significantly lower pay than their counterparts at the Court, Counsel and their teams play a crucial role in ensuring the fairness of proceedings, delivering quality representation for both victims and defendants, and upholding the principles enshrined in the Rome Statute.

ICCBA Press Release - Legal Aid Reform - November 2023
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