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The ILF's Statement to the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, 33rd Session 

Updated: Jun 17

The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) is the primary body that guides UN policymaking on issues related to crime prevention and criminal justice. The 33rd session of the CCPCJ was held in Vienna, May 13 –17, 2024. The ILF was present to ensure that the right to legal aid and the responsibility of governments to provide quality legal aid services to everyone arrested or detained remained a focus of criminal justice policies and practices.  

On May 14,2024, the ILF’s Legal Advocacy Advisor, Mythri Jayaraman, delivered a statement from the floor of the plenary in connection with Agenda Item 5, “Thematic discussion on promoting international cooperation and technical assistance to prevent and address organized crime, corruption, terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and other forms of crime, including in the areas of extradition, mutual legal assistance and asset recovery.”: 


Distinguished delegates, 

I take the floor today on behalf of The International Legal Foundation. It is our mission to ensure quality criminal legal aid to people in poverty around the world, and to provide technical assistance to governments and stakeholders to build sustainable, effective legal aid institutions.  

We appreciate this thematic debate on Pillar 4 and welcome this opportunity for exchange and collaboration on concrete steps to address transnational organized crime. 

In our efforts to advance safety and security for all, it is incumbent upon us, gathered here, to ensure and uphold our commitment to the rule of law.  When justice systems are functioning in the ways they are supposed to and in line with international law and guidance, we increase safety, we build trust in institutions, we reduce reoffending and radicalization, and we ensure justice for all.  

With nearly 191 States parties having signed onto the UNTOC in August 2023, we are encouraged that nearly every member state represented in this room is committed to adhering to the mandate of the Convention —including the mandate to keep international human rights law, crucially the right to a fair trial, in the fore. 


It was heartening to hear—both in the general debate and in this morning’s session—the broad approach member states are taking in addressing transnational crime, from investing in youth prevention strategies and education to accountability and reintegration. I take the floor today to emphasize that it is due process, as mandated in binding international law, that must be the fulcrum around which these efforts are implemented.  


International law tells us that all people who are suspected, arrested, detained, or charged for a crime are entitled to due process and a fair trial.  This right necessarily includes the right to high quality legal aid in line with the UN Principles & Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in CJ Systems, which this body adopted in 2012.  This right applies not only regardless of the race, income, or other status of the person, but also—crucially—regardless of the type of crime with which the person is charged.  


Ensuring legal aid and fair trials is not only the right thing to do, it is also an effective way to promote confidence in our governments, prevent insurmountable backlogs of these cases in the courts, and address radicalization in prisons. Ultimately, our effort to combat transnational crime is only as effective as is our commitment to the rule of law. Prosecutions and criminal processes are only as legitimate as is our respect for the rights of those who are arrested and detained on suspicion of these crimes. Thank you. 


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