On 15 November 2019, the Seventh International Meetings of the Defence was hosted at the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands, organised by the ICC’s Office of Public Counsel for the Defence (OPCD) in partnership with the Defence Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), and with the support of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA), and the Association of Defence Counsel practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (ADC-ICT).
The event was attended approximately by 60 Defence Counsels, Bar Associations representatives, international criminal law defence office staff, and experts in international criminal justice.
“There cannot be efficient international criminal justice without high quality defence,” ICC First Vice-President Judge Robert Fremr emphasised at the opening of the event. “Regular dialogue between those who deal with similar challenges is essential to staying on the cutting edge on your profession,” he added.
The event featured opening speeches by ICC First Vice-President Judge Robert Fremr, STL President Judge Ivana Hrdličková, ICC OPCD Principal Counsel, Xavier-Jean Keïta, and the STL Head of Defence Office, Dorothée Le Fraper du Hellen. The discussions covered a range of issues of interest to legal Counsels practicing before international criminal courts and tribunals. The Meetings were concluded under the chairmanship of Elisabeth Zakharia Sioufi, Director of the Human Rights Institute of the Beirut Bar Association, and Representative of the President of the Beirut Bar Association.
A strong defence is a vital component of a fair trial. The Defence teams represent and protect the rights of the defendant, who is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt before the Court.