Global Policy Forum

International Tribunal to Curb Abuse


TOMRIC News Agency
June 18, 2001

The Registrar of the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Mr. Adama Dieng, has introduced a series of measures designed to prevent abuse of the UN court's legal aid system.

This is a response to a critical audit report of the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) issued in February, this year. The OIOS report, among others, observed possible fee-splitting arrangements between some defense counsel by the defense counsels to clients, reports the state media, Daily News here today.

Dieng mentioned among measures taken as restriction to giving gifts by defense teams to their clients and strict personal searches of peasons visiting or meeting with detainee at the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF). Another imposed restriction is preventing members of dfense teams from meeting with accused persons other than their own clients at the UNDF.

The Registrar said in a statement further that ICTR has introduced personal history forms to be filled by investigators hired by defense counsel, which require more detailed background information. The aim, he said was to avoid investigators who are related to accused persons detained at the Tribunal.

The ICTR has also enhanced, he said, screening of potential and serving defense investigators so that nobody obtains positions by false prefences as to identify or have engaged in activity incompatible with the purposes of the Tribunal.

His new strategy based on OIOS report which, uncovers payments. Depending on the years of experience, lead counsel are remunerated by the ICTR at a rate of between 80 and 110 US dolloars per hour, up to maximum of 175 hours per month. Thus an experienced counsel could earn as much as 19,250 US dollars in a single month, or more than 230,000 US dollars in one year, the OIOS report stated.

Co-counsel receive a fixed 80 US dollars per hour, up to a monthly maximum of 175 hours, or up to 14,000 US dollars in a month. Legal assistans and investigators receive an hourly flat rate of 25 US dollars, with a monthly maximum payment of 100 hours or 2,500 US dollars in a month. According to OIOS report, one defense attorney currently at the ICTR rejected a detainee's request for splitting and informed the office of the Registrar accordingly.

One former counsel admitted to OIOS that he was compelled to provide support to the family of his client to ensure that he continued to be retained as a counsel.

The OIOS report, which was presented to the 55th UN General Assembly, also discovered from direct observation and from interviews with detainees at the ICTR that the detainees were receiving gifts from defense teams. Many detainees, the report says, adjusted to indigent, were living with an array of sophiscated and expensive computer, audio and video equipment.

"These were gifts provided by members of their defense teams" the report alleged. Dieng who took over as the registrar in February from Dr. Agwu Okali, has already put in place an internal panel of experts to further review the legal aid regime.

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