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Rights of the Defence

The Rules of Procedure and Evidence remit the Registrar with taking every measure necessary to ensure that the rights of the defence are fully respected, in the interests of a fair trial as defined in the Rome Statute. This general duty comprises several obligations, including not only the obligation to ensure the independence of defence counsel [rule 20(2)], but also the following other obligations of the Registrar vis-à-vis the following persons:

- Persons entitled to legal assistance under the Statute and the Rules:

  • To facilitate the protection of confidentiality [rule 20(1)(a)]
  •  To assist in obtaining legal advice and the assistance of legal counsel        [rule 20 (1)(c)]
  • To establish criteria and procedures for the assignment of legal assistance [rule 21(1)]
  • To provide for legal assistance paid by the Court, when the person lacks sufficient means to pay for it [article 67(1)(d)]. The indigence is assessed by the Registry based on information furnished in the Financial Information Form.


- Defence teams:

  • To prepare a proposal for a draft Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel [rule 8]. The Code of Professional Conduct for Counsel was adopted by the Assembly of States Parties during its fourth session.
  • To create and maintain a list of counsel [rule 21(2)]
  • To create an Office of Public Counsel for the Defence [regulation 77]


Regulation 77:  The tasks of this office shall include representing and protecting the rights of the defence during the initial stages of the investigation.

The Office of Public Counsel for the Defence shall also provide support and assistance to defence counsel and to the person entitled to legal assistance.

  •  To provide support, assistance and information to all defence counsel         [rule 20(1)(b)] 
  • To provide support for professional investigators, as appropriate, so that the defence may be conducted efficiently and effectively [rule 20(1)(b)]
  • To provide the facilities necessary for the direct performance of its duties by the defence [rule 20(1)(e)]
  • To inform and provide training on the law of the Statute and the Rules            [rule 20(1)(f)]


- Other organs of the Court:

  • To provide advice on defence issues to the Prosecutor and to the Chambers [rule 20(1)(d)].

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Maanweg 174, 2516 AB, The Hague, The Netherlands / Post Office Box 19519, 2500 CM The Hague, The Netherlands
Tel. : +31 70 515 85 15 • Fax : +31 70 515 85 55 • http://www.icc-cpi.int