In the Media

Peter Erlinder, Leading Defence Counsel released from custody in Rwanda

PUBLISHED June 29, 2010

Speaking at the SAHCA summer party in London, Jo Cooper, Chair of SAHCA, called for additional safeguards for lawyers at risk of arrest for simply doing their job on behalf of clients.

 ?There has in the last three weeks been a campaign bringing together Bar associations from across the world in support of Professor Erlinder

 ?I am delighted that SAHCA has been playing a role together with others - including ICB and ICDAA of which I am Vice President. There has been substantial action by Amanda Pinto QC on behalf of the CBA.

 ?Those efforts will not be complete until Peter is free, he is out of Rwanda, the charges are dropped, and there are real guarantees of functional immunity - that is free passage and protection from harassment or criminal proceedings - for advocates doing their job.

 ?SAHCA has members in Sierra Leone, in ICTY and ICTR. The Erlinder episode - even if it were to be over tonight - shows all of us who have links with those courts that we act at our peril.

 ?As Peter's co-counsel pointed out to me, it is not just those of us who are brave enough to go to Rwanda who are at risk. Any of us crossing an international border may find ourselves subject to an arbitrary international arrest warrant that obliges the holding nation to detain based on no more than the fact we are fearlessly and effectively fulfilling the mandate the Tribunal appointed us for.?