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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora