Defence counsels face accommodation problems
By Hirondelle News Agency
The president of the Association of Defence Counsels (ADAD) at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Hamuli Rety has told Hirondelle News Agency that defence counsels at the tribunal, Aare facing a very big problem with accommodation=.
Rety who hails from Congo says, Asome defence counsels don=t have offices and space in the tribunal to put their things up to date and are forced to work from hotels in Arusha town@.
ADAD=s president suggested that the situation posed a security threat, AWe handle some documents which are very confidential and which can make witnesses be in very bad situations.@ He added that the defence needs Afacilities which are very protected by the United Nations@.
The spokesperson of the ICTR Roland Amoussouga responded, Athe defence management section is trying to help defence counsels to have space where they can put their stuff and some files for those who attend court@.
However, he stated to the defence, AYou are independent, you are not even supposed to be in our midst. But we offered them this [accommodation] and they do not pay electricity, water and maintenance@.
Amoussouga said defence counsels in the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague Aare independent, they have resources that have been paid to them to cover their operational costs and to find a place to rent@.
ADAD=s president argued the defence lawyers face a different situation because they are not resident in Arusha like the prosecutors and defence counsels in the Hague. ADefence counsels in Arusha travel long distances to come to the tribunal,@ he said, Aaccording to the rules, the ICTR is obliged to provide accommodation and facilitate defence counsels because this is not our resident region and our offices are not here@.
Rety further expressed that the space given to a defence team of five persons is not enough. He said, AThe prosecutors have a lot of offices, their investigators have offices and I can say that prosecutor=s offices are not shared by people and have they have full facilities@.
The tribunal currently occupies two wings of the AICC complex in Arusha, each of which have seven floors. According to the AICC Senior Estate Officer Prosper Swatty, the complex has up to 23,000 square meters for rent.
Most prosecution counsels have one room each. According to Rety all defence counsels Ashare one printer, one toilet and a very limited space, sometimes,@ adding, Aone office is split in two to accommodate two teams@.
ADAD=s president remarked, AFor the last two years I think, things didn=t change, while the prosecutor=s rooms and trainee=s rooms were going up, the number of defence rooms were not going up, yet the number of trials are going up@.
Changes after defence lawyers January 2004 strike
In January this year, defence counsels went on strike demanding that the Registry of the tribunal deal with a number of issues they had raised. ADAD=s president confirmed that the Registrar had made some changes. Defence counsels now have access to some facilities in the library and to the tribunal=s information database known as TRIM.
Rety also confirmed that defence counsels were no longer subject to a body search while going into the United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF) in Arusha. All genocide suspects arrested by the ICTR are detained at the UNDF, around 10 km away from the tribunal.
He however said that, Awe are still waiting for the change of treatment for defence counsels? payment because the more we are doing the less we are paid and the more we are obliged to stay in Arusha@. ADAD=s president revealed that defence lawyers payments currently take not less than three months.
A lead counsel at the ICTR is entitled to claim fees for up to 175 hours per month. Those who have ten to fifteen years experience earn $90 per hour. Those who have fifteen to twenty years experience are paid $100 per hour, while those who can boast of more than twenty years experience get paid $110 per hour.
Theoretically, a defence counsel who has more than twenty years experience can earn up to $19,000 per month. The total budget for the defence over the last two years was $22 million. For the years 2004 to 2005 the whole Registry was allocated a budget of $174.8 million. The Registry is responsible for paying the fees of all the 86 defence counsels.