The Bar Human Rights Committee joins the Bar Council in its concerns over the arrest of Professor Erlinder in Kigali

The Bar Human Rights Committee, the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, joins the calls of the Bar Council for the charges against Professor Erlinder to be abandoned and for his immediate release from detention. Professor Erlinder, a U.S. lawyer, member of the International Criminal Bar, University professor of law and current President of the independent counsel association for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), appeared and continues to be instructed as defence counsel before the ICTR in the Military 1 trial.

He had travelled to the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, on 23 May 2010, to join the defence team of Rwandan presidential candidate, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. On 28 May, the Rwandan authorities arrested Professor Peter Erlinder on charges of “genocide ideology”. Mark Muller QC, Chair of the BHRC, said:

“The BHRC is deeply concerned at the course of action pursued against Professor Erlinder, which draws stark attention to the critical role lawyers play in ensuring fair trial rights.”

“Not only does this course of action disrupt the function of international criminal justice, it is in direct breach of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.”

“Such a departure from these basic principles jeopardises the integrity and fairness of the administration of justice in all international criminal proceedings, which must be upheld in the interests of the whole of the international community.”

“The BHRC urges the Rwandan authorities to immediately abandon all charges against Professor Erlinder and release him without delay.  The BHRC alongside its partner organisations will be observing closely the progress of the actions taken against Professor Erlinder, including any legal proceedings which may follow.” 

EndsFor immediate release: 9 June 2010

Notes for editors:

  1. The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. It is an independent body concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial.
  2. For more information please contact the BHRC in London, UK, via email: [email protected] or call +44 207 993 7755.

Read the full letter of concern here