The ICCBA Urges the ICC ASP to Act to Ensure Defence and Victim' Team Members are Fairly Remunerated
On Friday 2 December 2022, the ICCBA issued the following Press Release:
THE ICCBA URGES THE ICC ASSEMBLY OF STATE PARTIES (ASP) TO ACT TO ENSURE DEFENCE AND VICTIMS’ TEAM MEMBERS ARE FAIRLY REMUNERATED AND COMMIT TO PROVIDING BASIC SOCIAL PROTECTIONS
THE HAGUE – Seven years of legal aid negotiations have failed. Remuneration remains frozen since 2013 despite the rise in the cost of living. To ensure that support staff on Defence and Victims’ teams are ensured basic labour protections and pay that is fair, the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) urges the ASP to take action now.
A group of at least 35 support staff have signalled their intention to demonstrate at the ASP and strike from doing Court work from 5 to 9 December 2022, inevitably impacting ICC proceedings.
The ICCBA regrets that external defence and victims’ team members have resigned and been left in this invidious position. It urges the ASP to:
1. Increase Defence and Victims’ team members remuneration in the legal aid policy in line with inflation in the Netherlands, at the 2022 ASP, with immediate effect;
2. Make concrete commitments to providing basic social protections to support staff in the proposed legal aid policy that must be adopted at the 2023 ASP.
Unlike ICC staff, who receive a full package of benefits, including pay rises in line with inflation, the fees for Defence and Victims’ teams have been frozen since 2013. Defence and Representative of victims’ fees are more than 30% lower than the salaries paid to staff performing equivalent tasks for the Office of the Prosecutor. This inequality compromises fair trial rights and the principle of equality of arms at the Court and must be corrected immediately by the ASP, particularly given drastic increases in the cost-of-living in the Netherlands.
The ICCBA is also concerned about the lack of basic labour protections afforded to support staff. The lack of protections disproportionally affects women, and prevent nationals from the Court’s situation countries, or more diverse geographical backgrounds, to relocate to The Hague. The ASP must commit to adopt a legal aid policy that meets minimum, basic labour standards at the 2023 ASP.
Over the past decade, Counsel, Co-counsel, and support staff for Defence and Representative of Victims teams have been constantly engaged in discussions with the Registry, litigation, and diplomatic advocacy to find a solution to improve their working conditions and be provided with basic labour rights, to no avail.
The fundamental rights and protections recognised in labour law in many States Parties to the Rome Statute still do not apply in 2022 to Defence and Representative of Victims’ teams. The Court should act urgently to put in place conditions for a sustainable and healthy workplace to Defence and Representative for Victims, as they are full-fledged actors of international justice and are indispensable to the Court’s mandate and exercise of its jurisdiction over persons for allegations of the most serious crimes of international concern, as referred to in the Rome Statute. The ICCBA thus calls upon the Registry and all States Parties to the Statute, when gathered at next week’s ASP, to take seriously the failed legal-aid situation which has affected the most basic rights of those vital to the International Criminal Court continued functioning.
The full press release is available below.