News / Africa

ICC Considers Providing Legal Aid for Gbagbo Defense

Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch says it is a basic human right that all accused get representation by defense counsel

Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo waits for judges to arrive for his initial court appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague December 5, 2011. Gbagbo appeared at the International Criminal Court on Monday, facing charges of c
Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo waits for judges to arrive for his initial court appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague December 5, 2011. Gbagbo appeared at the International Criminal Court on Monday, facing charges of c

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to Butty interview with Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch

James Butty

A human rights lawyer said it is not uncommon for a high-profile individual like former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, facing charges before the International Criminal Court, to get legal assistance.

The ICC clerk is quoted as saying Gbagbo will get legal aid for his trial.

The former leader was taken to The Hague last November to face trial for four counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in Ivory Coast’s post-election violence.

His lawyers reportedly told the court that they have no resources with which to conduct his defense.

Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program at the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, said former Liberian President Charles Taylor got similar treatment during his trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

“Crucial to any accused receiving a fair trial is that he or she receives legal representation from effective legal counsel defense attorneys. That’s a basic human right.  And, if in fact the accused does not have funding to pay himself for that legal representation, then the court that is trying the individual subsidizes or makes the payment to the defense attorneys,” he said.

Dicker said he shares what he calls the well-founded skepticism of any Ivorian who might question the notion that Gbagbo does not have the money to pay for his own defense.

But, he said it is a common practice in U.S. domestic legal practice and even international practice for a court to provide legal aid for a defendant who might not have the resources.

“We’ve seen this claim of poverty made, for example, by former Liberian president Charles Taylor.  Charles Taylor received very high quality legal defense that cost quite a bit of money, but because Mr. Taylor alleged impoverishment, and because the court was unable to identify and seize assets that Mr. Taylor may have had stashed away somewhere, the court paid for Taylor’s defense,” Dicker said.

A statement by the ICC clerk reportedly said the financial aid granted by the court will cover only the preliminary stages of Gbagbo’s case while the court investigates his financial status.

Dicker said the court made the right decision, at least for now, because it is a basic human right that all accused must have representation by defense counsel.

“What I make of the order you cited coming from the ICC about Laurent Gbagbo is that the court is trying to identify possible assets of Laurent Gbagbo that could be used to pay for his defense in the interim until such determination is made, rather than Gbagbo not receive the benefit of legal counsel,’ Dicker said.

Dicker said, as serious as the charges against Gbagbo are, ICC sentencing guidelines prohibit the imposition of capital punishment, or the death penalty.

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid