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Communiqué bpi erlinger

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Communiqué bpi erlinger

  1. 1. Useful Information for you Information utile pour vous Información útil para Ud. Lawyers urge Rwanda to release detained U.S. attorney KAMPALA Tue Jun 8, 2010 12:58pm EDT KAMPALA (Reuters) - International lawyers condemned on Tuesday the extended detention in Rwanda of a U.S. lawyer accused of denying genocide and said it was disrupting the work of the country's tribunal into the killings. U.S. Peter Erlinder, the first foreigner accused under Rwanda's 2008 genocide ideology law, was arrested in May and pleaded not guilty at a hearing last week. Facing a minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, he was denied bail on Monday. "Lawyers must be assured that they can carry out their work without fear of interference, influence and imprisonment," said Allison Turner, a council member of the International Criminal Bar (ICB). Speaking at a review conference of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Turner told reporters Erlinder's arrest has "galvanized the international legal community" and several lawyer associations had condemned the actions of Rwandan authorities. Turner, also a member of the defense counsel association of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), said Erlinder's arrest was disrupting the tribunal's operations, with five defense teams filing motions saying it was too dangerous to represent an accused. The ICTR, based in Tanzania, was set up in 1994 by the U.N. Security Council to try those responsible for the Rwandan genocide. So far it has tried 50 people and convicted 41. Erlinder went to Rwanda to defend outspoken presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, head of the United Democratic Forces movement. Ingabire was arrested on suspicion of genocide denial and belonging to a terrorist group in April and released on bail. Erlinder is a law professor in the United States and has acted as lead defense counsel for top genocide suspects at the ICTR. Rwanda's genocide laws have been criticized for being vague and used by the government to silence dissent, but Rwanda denied on Monday its genocide laws were political or symbolic. Turner said the International Criminal Bar was now seeking talks with the United Nations and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about Erlinder's arrest and has informed the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.
  2. 2. Turner stressed an agreement between the United Nations and Tanzania granted immunity to ICTR defense lawyers and the U.N. Convention on Rights and Privileges bound Rwanda to respect this functional immunity. Last week, the United States called for Erlinder's release on compassionate grounds because he had complained of panic attacks and heart problems that required treatment at home. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block) ====================================================== =================================== The arrest in Rwanda of United States lawyer Professor Peter Erlinder has drawn the wrath of international human rights lawyers at the International Criminal Court review conference in Kampala, Uganda. by David Rupiny in Kampala The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA) has strongly condemned and protested Erlinder’s arrest as “an attack on the right to counsel and the independence of counsel”. ADAD’s AllisonTurner told reporters at the conference that Erlinder’s arrest is also an attack on the independence of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). “Professor Erlinder’s arrest is an attack on the freedom of speech and a politically motivated attempt to further frustrate the democratic process in Rwanda,” said Turner. Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota, was arrested on May 28th in Kigali, Rwanda, on charges of genocide negation. He is the defence counsel for Major Aloys Ntabakuze, one of the four accused persons in the Military I trial, and whose ICTR conviction is now before the Appeals Chamber. Erlinder had gone to Rwanda because he has been retained by Rwandan opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire, the leader of the United Democratic Forces, who has been attempting to register her party and is under house arrest for allegedly denying the 1994 genocide. Reports suggest Erlinder is being detained at the notorious Kicukiro detention centre in Kigali where he was interrogated for over three hours after which he fell ill, suffering from hypertension. Allison Turner of ICDAA says they have got reports that Erlinder is in dire straights. “He is being held in terrible conditions; every time he leaves his little cell he is handcuffed including [during] visits to the wash room,” said Turner at the sidelines of the Kampala ICC conference. She added: “Professor Erlinder’s health is not good; his US doctors had advised him to undergo a heart procedure in a few months”. After the Rwanda police announced that it had formally concluded their investigation with sufficient evidence and handed over the matter to the Office of the General Prosecutor, the prosecution commenced additional investigation. This time round, the prosecution is questioning Erlinder on the charges of “threatening the national security of Rwanda by spreading malicious rumours” and “denying the genocide against the Tutsis and advancing a “genocide ideology”. Erlinder’s lawyers’ requests for bail have been denied with the prosecution saying they are “premature.”
  3. 3. Kenneth Gallant, law professor at William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas, said ICDAA wants the Assembly of State Parties to include in its final acts of the review a statement committing the Court to respect functional immunity for all states to respect this immunity in their domestic jurisdictions. “There is a need to bar the use of words spoken or written or acts posed in the performance of one’s professional duties as the basis of criminal or civil charges,” said Professor Gallant. He added that since “functional immunity is recognised in the ICC’s host agreement and the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities … it must also be recognised by the states on whose territory the crimes occurred”. Gallant reasoned that this must extend to all independent counsel of the accused or the victims, and their respective team members in order, as he put it, “to guarantee a safe working environment and independence, free from political or other interference”. He concluded: “Pending universal recognition of functional immunity for defence and victims teams, and in light of Rwanda’s recent arrest of ICTR Defence Counsel Peter Erlinder, the ICB (International Criminal Bar) urges the review conference [should] adopt a resolution calling on member states to bar the use of in-court statements by counsel appearing before the ICC or any international tribunal as the basis for criminal prosecutions.” Interestingly, the ICTR has not responded to calls for it to invoke the functional immunity of Erlinder. “This inaction is in marked contrast to the reaction of the ICTR Registrar in November 2006 when ICTR Defence Counsel Callixte Gakwaya was arrested and detained in Rwanda based on an international arrest warrant issued by Rwanda,” said Turner. Attempts to talk to both the Rwanda delegation and ICTR have not bore fruits so far. Turner also raised the issue of a DR Congo lawyer, Firmin Yangambi, who also participated in the ICC Counsel Seminar in The Hague in 2009, now on death row handed down by a military court. “He is not a military lawyer but was arrested and imprisoned in Kinshasa following military proceedings and convicted of an insurrectional plot against the president,” said Turner. Yangambi’s lawyer has since appealed the judgement and death sentence. ===================================== ===================================== ============== Rwanda genocide tribunal lawyers fear for their safety after colleague's arrest Denial of Peter Erlinder's bail prompts more than 30 defence lawyers to issue joint statement to UN court • •
  4. 4. • (8) • Tweet this (12) • Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent • guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 8 June 2010 20.07 BST • Article history American lawyer Peter Erlinder was denied bail in Rwanda yesterday, two weeks after his arrest on charges of denying genocide. Photograph: AP/Marc Hofer Lawyers defending suspects at the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda say they fear for their safety, after a high profile defence lawyer remained in police custody. Peter Erlinder, a US lawyer leading the defence case of top genocide suspects, was denied bail today by the Rwanda authorities, two weeks after his arrest on charges of denying genocide. The arrest has prompted other defence lawyers at the UN tribunal, which sits in Arusha, Tanzania, to refuse to participate in proceedings. In a joint statement to the court and the UN security council, seen by the Guardian, more than 30 defence lawyers have said they fear for their own safety and have demanded Erlinder's immediate release. "We hereby resolve to postpone all activities, other than those which strictly conserve the interests of our mandates, until such time as the minimum conditions or the normal exercise of our missions have been restored by the removal of threats," the statement says. "[We are] aware of the dangers which immediately and directly threaten most of our number." The Guardian has learned that the tribunal launched contempt proceedings against another American defence lawyer, Peter Robinson, after he stated his intention to withdraw from the case due to Erlinder's continued detention. The treatment of defence lawyers has prompted widespread international condemnation, with the US government calling for Erlinder's release.
  5. 5. The case is also likely to place pressure on the UK authorities, including the Crown Prosecution Service, which has been providing assistance to Rwanda prosecutors to facilitate the extradition of genocide suspects currently residing in the UK. Experts say the incident undermines negotiations surrounding the international criminal court, under way in Kampala. "How can international criminal courts operate effectively if defence lawyers are at risk of being arrested for what they say on behalf of their clients?" said Amanda Pinto QC, Bar Council representative at the International Criminal Bar. "This affects all defence lawyers at the ICTR, but the issues are potentially the same for defence counsel anywhere in the international forum." The case also comes amid increasing concern about freedom of information in Rwanda, after two main opposition newspapers – Umuvugizi and Umuseso – were targeted with a number of libel and privacy cases, and prohibited from publishing until after the coming elections. The Rwandan government has continued to defend its decision to detain Erlinder. "It is an act of justice," foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement. "Flagrant and orchestrated breaches of our genocide ideology laws will be met with the full force of the law." Laura Vericat Figarola BPI-ICB-CAPI Secretaria Barcelona laura_bpi@icab.es Address: Avenida Diagonal 529 1º2ª 08029 Barcelona, Espańa tel/fax 0034 93 405 14 24

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