News Release ~ 2002-7

International Criminal Court receives support of NACDL Board of Directors

Washington, DC --The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers unanimously passed a resolution on February 23, 2002, calling on the United States to ratify and participate in the Rome Statute which establishes the International Criminal Court (ICC). The court will prosecute genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. NACDL''s primary concern is to ensure that defendants before the ICC will be represented by qualified and adequately funded counsel.

The resolution calls for creation of an independent international defense bar and observance of procedural safeguards similar to those in the United States. The Rome Statute, which is the international implementing legislation for the ICC, provides the accused with, among other things, a presumption of innocence, the choice of counsel, assigned counsel for the indigent, the right to discovery and examination of government witnesses, and the right to remain silent without an adverse inference.

Neither trials-in-absentia nor the death penalty are permitted in the ICC. Ratification of the Rome Statute by 60 countries will put the ICC into operation; 52 ratifications have been received by the United Nations so far, and enough to meet the requirement are expected in the near future.

"Sensational press, world opinion and the resources of governments all will be allied against the interests of those charged with these crimes. History will measure the legitimacy of the ICC by the degree to which their rights and interests are protected. The NACDL, along with its partner, the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA), is committed to fostering a recognition of the importance of the defense and to the implementation of safeguards and procedures which will assure that those charged with crimes before the ICC have an independent, fairly funded and supported defense," said NACDL Past President Nancy Hollander, a member of NACDL''s International Law Committee who helped draft the resolution. "The United States and its allies should be a party to the ICC."

Last year, NACDL entered into an agreement to provide a U.S. office for the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, based in Montreal. The ICDAA was formed in 1997 to address concerns that the defense function was largely being ignored in the creation of the ICC and other international tribunals. 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 9,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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