PRESS RELEASE: ADC-ICT URGES STATES TO FACILITATE THE IMMEDIATE RESOLUTION OF THE NIGER CRISIS
On 23 December 2022, the ADC-ICT issued the following press release:
ADC-ICT URGES STATES TO FACILITATE THE IMMEDIATE RESOLUTION OF THE NIGER CRISIS, ONE YEAR INTO THE ILLEGAL DETENTION OF ICTR ACQUITEES AND RELEASED PERSONS
THE HAGUE – The Association of Defence Counsel practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (ADC-ICT) recognizes today’s distressing anniversary of one year since eight ICTR acquitted and released persons were illegally detained by authorities in Niger, in breach of the Relocation Agreement entered into between the Republic of Niger and the United Nations.
One year on, the situation of these eight men remains extremely precarious. Existing on one meal per day, confined to their residence, and with no meaningful progress towards release from detention, let alone relocation to a safe third state. Moreover, their conditions are entirely inconsistent with the dignified life and freedom to which they are entitled following their acquittals and release.
The ADC-ICT endorses the call from the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) for State assistance in finding an urgent solution to this crisis. The President noted in an address to the UN Security Council on 12 December 2022 that “our collective inability to find a durable solution not only reflects negatively on the Organisation but also on the credibility of international justice as a whole”.
This is of course correct. The legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the IRMCT are undoubtedly called into question by the re-incarceration of those who were acquitted. States’ support and cooperation with international criminal courts must include ensuring a safe and dignified life for defendants who have been acquitted and released, and not only enforcement of convictions.
The ADC-ICT also expresses support for the lawyers who continue to assist these men pro bono, with legal aid funding having been refused by the Mechanism, and reiterates its position that resources should be made available to pay for the legal assistance that these individuals need.
The ADC-ICT is an independent professional association which represents all defence counsel practicing the IRMCT, and formerly before the ICTY. The ADC-ICT works to promote and protect the interests of defence counsel and their clients and ensure the proper function of defence is respected in proceedings before international courts and tribunals. Further information is available at: www.adc-ict.org