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

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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