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“Very hard-working and shows great initiative.”Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
“An exceptionally accomplished practitioner in the field, who genuinely thrives on his feet in the courtroom.”Legal 500, 2017
“Has spent a considerable amount of time representing individuals accused of genocide and crimes against humanity”.Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
“Ethical and very meticulous in his cross-examination.”Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
“An international criminal law specialist who is praised for his approach with clients and his strong advocacy.”Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
Iain Edwards identified as “ethical and very meticulous in his cross-examination”, “very hard-working and shows great initiative”.Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
Iain Edwards “has spent a considerable amount of time representing individuals accused of genocide and crimes against humanity”.Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
“A star in the field of international crime.”Legal 500 2020
Iain Edwards recognised as “an international criminal law specialist who is praised for his approach with clients and his strong advocacy.”Chambers & Partners (UK Bar) 2017
Iain is a seasoned and compassionate barrister specialising in serious crime. He is a fighter who always goes the extra mile for his clients, whether before domestic or overseas jurisdictions. Iain represents defendants charged with the gravest of offences and has a particular expertise in international crimes, firearms, and immigration related cases. He is developing a strong practice in extradition. Iain prides himself on his meticulous preparation and intelligent trial strategy. Clients regularly comment favourably on his down-to-earth, unpretentious approach.
Since 2009, Iain has divided his busy defence practice between domestic and international criminal work. For the last five years, he has been one of a small handful of barristers ranked by Chambers and Partners as a leading junior in international criminal law, and by The Legal 500 as a Tier 1 leading junior in international crime and extradition.
Iain is currently assigned as counsel before the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague for the defence of the former head of the Serbian state security service, on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is also assigned for the defence of an accused in a six-hander contempt case before the Mechanism in Arusha, Tanzania.
Iain has a developing interest in all areas of national and international sanctions work, including before the UN’s Ombudsperson to the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, and under the UK’s new Magnitsky regime introduced through the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.
Iain is accredited by the Bar Standards Board to undertake public access work.
Iain is an extremely experienced criminal barrister, both at trial and on appeal. He represents defendants charged with the most serious offences of violence, murder, public disorder, rape and sexual assaults, armed robbery, complex fraud, and drugs trafficking and supply. He has particular expertise in terrorism, international crimes and firearms cases. His background as a practitioner in immigration and asylum law enables him to bring an in-depth knowledge to people smuggling and illegal entry cases, and cases which feature other immigration or deportation issues. Iain has a special enthusiasm for cases which provide the opportunity to advance abuse of process arguments.
Iain most recently appeared before the Court of Appeal in the widely-reported case of R v Chin-Charles  EWCA Crim 1140 in which the Court provided guidance to sentencing judges on the length, nature and structure of sentencing remarks (see also Archbold 2020, 5A-321 and 7-135).
Iain is developing a strong practice in extradition. He was instructed as junior counsel for Charles Munyaneza in his proceedings following a second request from Rwanda in respect of allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity. The client prevailed at both first instance and on appeal to the High Court: Government of Rwanda v Nteziryayo & others  EWHC 1912 (Admin). See also VB, CU, CM and EN v Westminster Magistrates’ Court  EWHC 889 (Admin)(closed material procedure in extradition proceedings).
Iain also has considerable experience representing prisoners in all types of disciplinary and Parole Board hearings, including recall and lifer cases.
International criminal law
Iain has a long-standing academic and professional interest in international criminal and international human rights law. Iain is currently assigned as counsel before the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague for the defence of the former head of the Serbian state security service, on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is also assigned as a legal consultant for the defence of an accused in a six-hander contempt case before the Mechanism in Arusha, Tanzania.
Between 2012 and 2016, Iain defended Mustafa Badreddine before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in a trial relating to the assassination of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri.
Between 2009 and 2012, Iain was a legal adviser in three defence teams representing clients charged with genocide and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.
Iain is included on the lists of eligible defence counsel before the International Criminal Court (both defence and victims), the Kosovo Specialist Chamber, the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (both defence and amicus curiae Prosecutor), and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He is also on the list of approved counsel before the UN’s Ombudsperson to the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.
- Prosecutor v Turinabo & others, MICT-18-116 (2019 to date, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals): Iain is defending Marie Rose Fatuma, one of five persons accused of contempt of court by pressuring and bribing witnesses to change their evidence in the context of review proceedings brought by Augustin Ngirabatware, the former Minister of Planning in the 1994 Rwandan interim government.
- Prosecutor v Stanišić & Simatović, MICT-15-96 (2017 to date, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals): Iain is assigned by the Registrar as defence counsel for Jovica Stanišić, who was the head of the Serbian state security service within the Ministry of Internal Affairs from 1991 to 1998. He is jointly charged with persecution, murder, deportation and forcible transfer as crimes against humanity, and murder as a war crime. The client is being retried after he was acquitted on all counts before the ICTY. The case is temporally and geographically broad in scope, involving alleged crimes committed against Croat, Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb civilian populations within large areas of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995.
- Prosecutor v Ayyash & others, STL-11-01 (2012-2016, Special Tribunal for Lebanon): Iain represented Mr Badreddine who was charged, together with four co-defendants, with the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, the murder of 21 other persons, and associated acts of terrorism. The STL is the first international criminal tribunal of its kind to try terrorism as a distinct crime. It is also the first international tribunal to try defendants in their absence since the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg. The Prosecution described Mr Badreddine as “a senior military commander of vast experience and importance in Hezbollah and the history of the Resistance movement.” Essentially, Mr Badreddine was accused of being the mastermind and driving force behind the attack. Proceedings against the client were terminated after he was found to have been killed in Damascus, Syria in May 2016. However, in its assessment of Mr Badreddine’s role as an unindicted co-conspirator (as he was at the date of Judgment) the Trial Chamber found the Prosecution’s evidence to be “insufficient to place him in the conspiracy at its head as the organiser and coordinator of all of its activities, as is pleaded.” Had Mr Badreddine not died in May 2016, there is every reason to believe he would have been acquitted of all counts in the indictment.
- Prosecutor v Uwinkindi, ICTR-2001-75 (2010-2012, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda): The client was charged with genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. In December 2011 the Appeals Chamber upheld a decision to refer his case to Rwanda for trial before the High Court.
- Prosecutor v Kanyarukiga, ICTR-2002-78 (2010, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda): The client was charged with genocide, complicity in genocide and extermination. After trial many specific allegations were found to be not proved but he was convicted of planning genocidal killings and of extermination.
- Prosecutor v Ntawukulilyayo, ICTR-2005-82 (2009-2010, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda): The first sous-préfet to be indicted before the ICTR, the client was charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, and incitement to commit genocide. Most of the specific allegations were found to be not proved after trial. This was a rare case where the Trial Chamber convicted by a majority. On appeal, the client was acquitted of ordering acts of genocide and his sentence reduced accordingly.
- Prosecutor v Bemba, Kilolo & others, ICC-01/05-01/13 (2015, International Criminal Court): Assigned as pro bono independent counsel to advise on potential conflict of interest of defence counsel for Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.
International human rights
Iain has a long-standing academic and professional interest in international criminal and international human rights law. The tireless defence of his clients’ human rights has been a constant feature of Iain’s practice at home and abroad for many years, often pro bono. In recent years Iain has been invited to speak at numerous international conferences, particularly on fair trial standards.
Prosecutor v Victoire Ingabire & others (2010-2013): Iain was instructed to defend Victoire Ingabire, the chairperson of a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties, charged before the High Court of Rwanda with terrorism, genocide ideology, discrimination, and disseminating false rumours against the government. This was a strategically challenging and politically sensitive case, attracting a great deal of media attention in Rwanda and internationally. All four co-accused pleaded guilty and gave evidence for the prosecution. Legal arguments were advanced based on international human rights law (problems of jurisdiction, non-retroactivity, definitions of international crimes and terrorism) and fair trial norms. Mrs Ingabire was acquitted in October 2012 of four of the six counts after one of the longest criminal trials to have been heard in Rwanda. Appeals were heard before the Supreme Court of Rwanda between March and July 2013, after which the sentence was increased. Mrs Ingabire’s case attracted considerable attention from, among others, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FIDH, and featured widely in the international media.
Iain represented Mrs Ingabire before the High Court of Rwanda pro bono.
Iain is advising other Rwandan nationals in the UK pro bono in relation to High Court actions against the Home Office.
“He excels at combining domestic and international law. One of those advocates that has it all, he is very persuasive.” (Chambers and Partners (UK Bar) 2020)
“A star in the field of international crime.” (The Legal 500 (UK Bar) 2020 – Tier 1)
“A highly regarded practitioner who attracts praise for his deep knowledge of international criminal law.” (Chambers and Partners (UK Bar) 2019)
“A composed advocate, his cross-examination is controlled and gentlemanly.” (The Legal 500 (UK Bar) 2019 – Tier 1)
“Very level-headed and composed, he has a great deal of experience which he brings to bear when formulating his strategic decisions.” (Chambers and Partners (UK Bar) 2018)
“He is an excellent barrister, who is very hard-working and shows great initiative… Ethical and very meticulous in his cross-examination.” (Chambers and Partners (UK Bar) 2017)
“An exceptionally accomplished practitioner in the field, who genuinely thrives on his feet in the courtroom.” (The Legal 500 (UK Bar) 2017 – Tier 1)
- LL.M. Public International Law (specialising in international criminal law, UN law, and international human rights law), University College London (1999)
- LL.B. (Hons.) Law with French Law and Language, University of East Anglia (1996)
- DEUF (Diploma in French Law), Université Jean Moulin, Lyon III, France (1995)
Speaking events, training & seminars
- Speaker, Seventh International Meeting of the Defence: developments at the IRMCT (The Hague, November 2019);
- Speaker, Eleventh Legal Symposium – IACI: terrorism as a core international crime (The Hague, November 2019);
- Guest lecturer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: fair trial standards in international criminal law (Amsterdam, July 2019);
- Speaker, Sixth International Meeting of the Defence: retrials before international criminal tribunals (The Hague, November 2018);
- Guest lecturer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: the right to a fair trial in theory and in practice (Amsterdam, July 2018);
- Moderator, 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute: reflections from the perspective of the defence (The Hague, June 2018);
- Trainer, Seminar for Judges from Francophone Africa, TMC Asser Institute: challenges of prosecuting sexual and gender-based crimes (The Hague, February 2018);
- Guest lecturer, École Nationale de la Magistrature: characteristics of the international criminal process (Paris, November 2017);
- Speaker, Fifth International Meeting of the Defence: a common code of professional conduct (Nuremberg, November 2017);
- Trainer, ICCBA/ICC: vulnerable witnesses, reparations & advocacy (The Hague, June 2017);
- Co-organiser, Penn State University/ ICCBA: international criminal trial advocacy programme, (The Hague, June 2017);
- Speaker, Congress of the Fédération des Barreaux d’Europe: achievements of the ICC and other tribunals (The Hague, June 2017);
- Organiser, ICCBA inaugural training day (The Hague, April 2017);
- Trainer, Kosova Bar Association international criminal law programme: pre-trial issues (Pristina, April 2017);
- Speaker, IBA The World in Crisis Conference: refugees as victims of slavery and other crimes (The Hague, February 2017);
- Speaker, Fourth International Meeting of Defence Offices: day-to-day challenges for the defence in court (London, November 2016);
- Trainer, ADC-ICTY: cross-examination, hostile witnesses, submissions (The Hague, September 2016);
- Trainer, Avocats Sans Frontières/ICC: role of duty counsel, ethics (The Hague, June 2016);
- Speaker, CRDH/Université Panthéon-Assas: state cooperation with the defence (Paris, June 2016);
- Speaker, École de Guerre/STL: the defence in in absentia criminal proceedings (The Hague, January 2016);
- Chair, Third Meeting of International Defence Offices: recent developments for defence offices (Geneva, October 2015);
- Speaker, Conference on International Criminal Law: the defence before international criminal tribunals (Dakar, July 2015);
- Speaker, Bar of The Hague/STL: challenges for the defence in in absentia proceedings (The Hague, February 2015);
- Speaker, International Symposium on the Legacy of the ICTR: fair trial rights in Rwanda (Arusha, November 2014);
- Speaker, Human Rights Defenders Focal Point: human rights issues in the trial of Victoire Ingabire (Kigali, May 2013);
- Speaker, Bar of Liège/BPICB: ethics before the ad hoc international criminal tribunals from a defence perspective (Liège, February 2013).
- Chair, Professional Standards Advisory Committee, International Criminal Court Bar Association (2016-2017)
- Chair, Training Committee, International Criminal Court Bar Association (2016-2017)
- French (fluent)