Aarif brings a multi-specialist approach to his clients’ cases and specific expertise in public international law and international criminal law.

Overview

Aarif has a diverse domestic and international practice comprising both criminal and civil matters. He specialises is in international criminal law and public international law including international human rights law. His domestic practice focuses on public, constitutional and administrative law as well as criminal law.

Aarif originally qualified and practiced as a solicitor with the ‘magic circle’ international law firm, Slaughter and May, where he specialised in public law.

Aarif has advised individuals, companies, public interest groups and states in public law and human rights cases, both for claimants and respondents, as well as advising widely on policy issues. He has also advised policy makers, parliamentarians and practitioners widely on foreign policy and rule of law issues.

Aarif has a demonstrated history of working in courts (domestic and international), non-governmental organisations and international organisations. He has been instructed as a barrister, investigator and/or consultant on matters relating to international crimes, conflict resolution and transitional justice. He is currently on the roster of candidates, as an expert available for instruction, for a number of United Nations bodies as well for Justice Rapid Response.

Aarif graduated from the University of Oxford in Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA (MA) and the University of Bologna where he obtained a Master's degree in Human Rights with a specialism in public international and constitutional law.

International

Aarif is an experienced policy and legal adviser on matters concerning international criminal law and public international law including international human rights law. He has a demonstrated history of working in courts, non-governmental organisations and international organisations. Aarif has advised widely on conflict resolution and the legal implications thereof in relation to conflicts in Turkey, Iraq, Myanmar, Syria, the former Yugoslavia, Libya and others.

Aarif completed a Master’s degree in Human Rights, with distinction, from the University of Bologna in 2013. He has extensive experience in drafting applications to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), United Nations Special Procedures, United Nations Treaty Bodies and other international courts, tribunals and panels. He undertook a placement in the Office of the President and the UK division of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) where he assisted judges in an advisory and drafting capacity in relation to decisions/judgments issued by the Court.

Aarif regularly undertakes advisory and drafting work on international law matters both on a consultancy and pro-bono basis. Examples of Aarif’s international work either as a member of a court chamber or as a solicitor can be found under the subheading ‘Notable cases’.

Aarif is a formal member of a number of prominent panels which advise on international human rights or criminal law issues. His memberships can be found under the subheading ‘Memberships’.

International human rights law

Aarif’s public international law (PIL) work spans a number of different practice areas and countries and he continues to advise individuals, companies, public interest groups and states in respect of public international law claims.

His PIL matters have included case work and/or the provision of advice at the Bar Human Rights Committee, European Court of Human Rights, Accountability Unit, Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the Democratic Progress Institute.

Aarif remains a consultant at the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) advising widely on the application of human rights to public policy. He also continues to work (as a co-founder) with the consultancy, Accountability Unit, which advises parliamentarians, practitioners, NGOs and others on legal redress (including State Responsibility) for gender-related harm in conflict settings, including on issues related to genocide, discrimination, torture, and slavery among others. Aarif was recently invited to join the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Pro Bono Lawyer’s Panel, which provides legal assistance to local practitioners representing British nationals imprisoned overseas.

Some of his current or recent work includes:

  • Writing a book (forthcoming) on comparative constitutional law which considers the process of creating and amending constitutions and how process can impact possible future conflict.
  • Drafting a paper for the Bar Human Rights Committee on duties on States under international law to the Uyghurs and other Chinese Muslims who face alleged violations of international criminal and international human rights law.
  • Founding and co-leading an international ad hoc committee (comprising a number partnering organisations) considering the question of State Responsibility for violations of international criminal law in respect of a minority group.
  • Advising a Rohingya network on the proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) between The Gambia v Myanmar on possible third-party intervention in the matter; on gaps in evidence/submissions in the current proceedings; and advising on implementation of the interim measures in the case.
  • Advising UK parliamentarians on the reform of the law relating to genocide and crimes against humanity and making effective UK obligations under the Rome Statute, Genocide Convention, UNCAT and the Geneva Conventions.
  • Supervising and undertaking research on public international law, minority rights, gender and equality law, SGBV and applying that research in litigation and advocacy submissions.
  • Counselling and advising on issues relating to UK law enforcement authorities’ violations of human rights of individuals.
  • Advising, as a consultant, on how to conduct strategic litigation to advance the issue of constitutional reform in Bosnia and counselling litigants challenging discriminatory laws before the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and ultimately the ECtHR.

International criminal & humanitarian law

Aarif has extensive experience working on international criminal (ICL) and humanitarian law (IHL) issues. He has conducted litigation, advocacy, research, mentoring and investigation work on international criminal law matters related to a number of countries. He continues to lecture and advise widely on ICL and IHL issues and, in particular, on mass atrocity crimes. He is currently on the roster of candidates for instruction for a number of United Nations bodies.

Some of his current or recent work includes:

  • Advising an international NGO on allegations of forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience in China and also providing preliminary advice to another group related to alleged violations of customary law/genocide convention/CAH/UNCAT by Chinese officials in relation to alleged violations against the certain minority groups (international criminal law); Assisting the Bar Human Rights Committee to understand the relevant applicable laws in relation to the same.
  • Advising/representing a client NGO on violations of international criminal and human rights law relating to crimes committed against a minority groups in Iraq and Syria (international criminal law; public international law).
  • Advising/representing on the application of the law relating to genocide – in particular, the Genocide Convention – to historic crimes in Iran in relation to a minority group and considering actions under Universal Jurisdiction and/or other possible action in domestic courts.
  • Advising/representing clients in relation to historic crimes / continuing violations in the former Yugoslavia (providing preliminary advice on international criminal law and international human rights law in relation to crimes committed in Bosnia and Kosovo).
  • Managing witness evidence and drafting decisions, orders and parts of eventual judgments following deliberations with judges in the trial and appeal chambers of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (UNICTY).

Public law (judicial review)

Aarif has a long-standing interest in all types of public law challenge and has particular transferable expertise in cases involving public international law and international human rights law.

Aarif has advised individuals, companies, public interest groups and states in judicial review and civil claims, whether for claimants or respondents. This has included public law cases at Slaughter and May (where he trained, qualified and practised), the Court of Appeal (as a judicial assistant), the European Court of Human Rights, Accountability Unit, Public International Law and Policy Group and Democratic Progress Institute.

Aarif’s public law work has spanned a number of different practice areas: advising on judicial review of HMRC decisions; advising on international arbitration cases concerning public international law; applying for injunctions and disclosure orders; leading a seminar on state expropriation of property under public international law; advising on compliance with international sanctions (Iran, Cuba and Libya); advising on a variety of regulatory matters; advising on the new UK/European financial regulations; and litigating and advising widely on human rights matters in the UK and a number of other countries including issues arising from equality and anti-discrimination law.

Aarif is a former judicial assistant to Sir John Mummery QC at the Court of Appeal and a judicial assistant in the Office of the President and the UK Division of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Examples of decisions which were handed down when he was a judicial assistant (and on which he had substantive involvement) can be found under the subheading ‘Notable cases’.

Civil & social rights

Aarif has a varied civil and social rights practice advising widely on domestic UK cases and international cases.

Aarif regularly undertakes advisory, drafting and advocacy work on civil and social rights matters. In his varied human rights practice prior to his move to the Bar, Aarif advised on a number of cases relating to both civil and criminal law covering a broad range of human rights law including the right to life, prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, rights to free assembly, association and expression, rights to privacy and family life, and rights to fair trial and legal remedies among others.

Examples of Aarif’s civil and social rights work, either as a member of a court chamber or as a solicitor can be found under the subheading ‘Notable cases’.

Immigration

Aarif is instructed on the full range of immigration and asylum law and human rights issues arising thereof.

Aarif appears regularly in the First-Tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal and takes a particular interest in advisory work and public law (judicial review) challenges to State decision-making. He has successfully represented many clients facing deportation and unlawful detention.

Notable cases

International law

  • Mladić (IT-09-92) “Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Trial Chamber I, ICTY – Prosecution of Ratko Mladic, the wartime military commander of the Bosnian Serbs, for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. (Work involved substantive and procedural issues).
  • Prlić et al. (IT-04-74) “Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Appeals Chamber, ICTY – Prosecution of members of the Croatian Defence Council for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Work involved procedural issues).
  • Stanišić & Župljanin (IT-08-91) “Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Appeals Chamber, ICTY – Prosecution of members of the state security services of Serbia for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Work involved procedural issues).
  • Chiragov and others v Armenia (13216/05), Grand Chamber, European Court of Human Rights – Case regarding the rights to property (Article 1, Protocol 1) and rights to private and family life (Article 8) of Azeri nationals who were forcibly displaced from their home territory in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of former Soviet Azerbaijan.
  • Kaytan v Turkey (27422/05), European Court of Human Rights – Case concerning complaint that the applicant’s life sentence had no possibility of a review.
  • Tunc v Turkey (24014/05), European Court of Human Rights – Case that alleged effectiveness of investigation by respondent state into death was impaired on account of a lack of independence of the court upholding a decision to discontinue the proceedings.
  • Cerf v Turkey (12938/07), European Court of Human Rights – Case against respondent state for failure to investigate the murder of an activist suspected to have been carried out by state agents.
  • Yoyler and others v Turkey (10783/07) – Case concerning complaint that  proceedings before the national courts had not been concluded within a reasonable time and that there was no effective remedy under Turkish law.
  • Zelal Ozgokce v Turkey (29779/09) – Case concerns the alleged unfairness of the criminal proceedings due to the systemic restriction imposed on the applicant’s right of access to a lawyer during the pre-trial stage (communicated – pending).
  • Canpolat (3) v Turkey (26944/08) – Case concerning educational committees of certain prisons deciding not to allow the applicants to receive certain editions of miscellaneous periodicals and/or other publications (some of which were in the Kurdish language) on various different grounds.

Public law

Civil and social rights

  • O’Neill and Lauchlan v. the United Kingdom (nos. 41516/10 and 75702/13), European Court of Human Rights – Case concerning complaint about the excessive length of criminal proceedings brought against the applicants.
  • The Hospital Medical Group v Colin Westwood [2012] EWCA Civ 1005 – Challenge against a decision that the respondent was a “worker” for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 s.230(3)(b).
  • Supervising and undertaking research on public international law, minority rights, gender and equality law, SGBV and applying that research in litigation and advocacy submissions.
  • Counselling and advising on issues relating to UK law enforcement authorities’ violations of human rights of individuals.
  • Advising, as a consultant, on how to conduct strategic litigation to advance the issue of constitutional reform in Bosnia and counselling litigants challenging discriminatory laws before the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and ultimately the ECtHR.

Memberships

  • List of Specialist Co-Counsel, Defence Office and the Victims’ Participation Office, Kosovo Specialist Chambers, The Hague (since 2020)
  • Member, Advisory Group, American Bar Association’s International Criminal Justice Standards (ICJ Standards) initiative (since 2019)
  • Expert, Justice Rapid Response (JRR), International Criminal Law Justice Experts Roster & JRR-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts Roster (since 2018)
  • Founding Member and Consultant, pro bono, Accountability Unit (since 2015)
  • Advisor, Advisory Board, Centre for Access to Justice and Inclusion, Anglia Ruskin University (since 2020)
  • Co-opted Member, Bar Liaison Committee, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (since 2020)
  • Faculty Member, pro bono, Sir Geoffrey Nice Foundation (since 2018)
  • Rostered for instructions, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (since 2016)
  • Rostered for instructions, UNAIDS and UNAIDS Technical Support Mechanism (since 2018)
  • Member, Bar Human Rights Committee (since 2019)
  • Member of the Society of the Inner Temple as a Barrister who has transferred to the Bar of England and Wales (since 2016)
  • Member of the Law Society of England and Wales as a Qualified Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales (since 2011)

Speaking Engagements

Aarif is regularly invited to speak on matters related to international human rights law and international criminal law. He has recently delivered seminars/workshops on:

The ‘crime of crimes’: personal and legal reflections on genocide (Prospective – Garden Court North Chambers in conjunction with Accountability Unit, Manchester International Law Centre, University of Manchester, Nov 2020)

‘Barbarism is beneath Us; not behind us’; the erosion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe’ (Prospective – Hanko Festival, Aug 2020)

State responsibility for genocide: duties on states under the Genocide Convention and the legacy of the ICTY (Geoffrey Nice Foundation (GNF), Jul 2020)

Bosnian constitutional reform: an elusive endeavour to end a frozen conflict (GNF), Jul 2020)

Inequality in the UK and the law; why lawyers are complicit in an unjust system (Human Rights Lawyers Association, Feb 2020)

Censorship and lawyers; an interplay of rights, roles and responsibilities (European Law Students’ Association, University of Manchester, Nov 2019)

Mass atrocity crimes and the European Court of Human Rights (Transitional Justice Working Group (Seoul, South Korea), Geoffrey Nice Foundation (GNF), ICL Masterclass, Jul 2019)

Human rights and the breakdown of rule of law in Europe (Young Legal Aid Lawyers, May 2019)

Reassessing and reviewing the laws relating to genocide and crimes against humanity (GNF, ICL Masterclass, Jul 2018)

Revision of the law relating to genocide and its possible bifurcation into first and second degree (GNF, Alumni Conference, Feb 2018)

The role of courts in realising rights and access to justice in Turkey (EU FRAME, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights, Apr 2017)

Human rights and gender inequality in post-conflict divided societies (International Forum Bosnia, Bosnia, Jul 2016)

Facilitating future prosecution of sexual violence at international tribunals (UNICTY, Mar 2016)

Alternative methods of implementing the International Protocol on Documenting and Investigating Sexual Violence (LSE, Women Peace Security Centre, Jan 2016)

Legal accountability for sexual violence in Syria and future prosecution of war crimes (Institute for Women’s Studies, Beirut, Jun 2015; GNF Nov 2016)

As a Member of the UNICTY Chambers’ Speakers Guild, Aarif delivered seminars, amongst others, on: the law relating to extermination, persecution and genocide (Jul 2016; Jan, Apr 2017); the Indictment against Ratko Mladić and associated law to the Trial Chamber (Apr 2014); post-conflict constitutional design in divided societies with lessons from Bosnia (Mar, 2014)

 

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