Following the release of an open letter of complaint [LINK HERE] to delegates to the 17th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Journalists For Justice asked the Registry of the International Criminal Court to respond to their issues raised. In the interests of fairness, JFJ reproduces below the response sent in by ICC Spokesperson Fadi el Abdallah:
The issue of the working conditions of support staff of Defence and Victims teams, which the Court takes very seriously, is, among other important issues, currently being discussed with various stakeholders including the ICCBA, within the framework of the Legal Aid reform. The Court is engaged in this dialogue with a view to exploring avenues to foster the protection of the legal professional within the scope of applicable instruments.
As Defence and Victims team members are not contracted as ICC staff, they are independent in their own organisation under the responsibility of the Lead Counsel. The Court fully respects this independence. Therefore, conditions agreed between Counsel and team members in respect to Article 7(4) of the Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel are not subject to the supervision of the Court.
In the legal aid system currently being proposed and under discussion, the Court seeks to establish Legal Services Contracts with Counsel and team members outlining their rights and responsibilities before the Court, without prejudice to Article 7(4) of the Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel, with the exception of remuneration agreements which should be in line with the remuneration scheme established. In the new proposed legal aid system, there is a section on remuneration including a proposed general remuneration scheme, aligning Defence team members’ remuneration on equivalent ICC positions’ remunerations.
The organisation of the team and the contractual relationships between the Lead Counsel and the Defence team are not regulated by the Court, but are under any applicable national laws.
Thus, according to the Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel, [Lead] Counsel has an obligation to supervise staff and any misconduct in this regard is liable to be prosecuted in the disciplinary system. At least one case of harassment has been prosecuted before the disciplinary board in the past.