Sarah Bafadhel


Sarah Bafadhel specialises in international criminal law, public international law and human rights law.

She litigates on behalf of clients in high profile and complex cases before international and regional fora which have resulted in landmark decisions developing international jurisprudence.

Sarah provides direct and strategical advice to individual clients as well as governmental and non-governmental actors on the implementation of international law and standards.

Background and expertise

Having appeared as counsel in domestic, regional and international courts, Sarah provides tailored advice and representation to clients across various stages of investigation and judicial proceedings.

Sarah has been instructed to provide consultation to various governments and non-governmental organisations across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central America with regard to the implementation of international criminal law, transitional justice and public international law.

She has also prepared legal submissions on behalf of individual clients before the United Nations Human Rights Council; the United Nations Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs; the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and in alien tort proceedings before United States District Courts.

Sarah also specialises in the delisting of designated individuals and entities which are subject to sanctioning regimes adopted by the UN, EU, US and UK and has appeared in proceedings before the General Court of the European Union and European Court of Justice. She has also assisted clients in challenging INTERPOL red notices.

She has also appeared in domestic criminal proceedings before the courts of England and Wales and currently advises on judicial review proceedings, extradition proceedings and immigration cases.

Sarah is fluent in Arabic and can provide advice in either English or Arabic.

International cases

International Criminal Court, Situation in the Republic of the Philippines, February 2023 - ongoing

Sarah is engaged to represent the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in relation to on-going appellate proceedings concerning the Office of the Prosecutor’s request to investigate crimes allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called 'war on drugs' campaign.

Read more:

European Court of Justice, Council of the European Union v. Aisha Muammer Mohamed El-Qaddafi, July 2021 – April 2023

Sarah successfully represented Dr. Qaddafi in appellate proceedings before the European Court of Justice in relation to the annulment of sanctions, securing Dr. Qaddafi’s delisting from EU restrictive measures.

Read more:

European Court of Human Rights, El Hajjiouji v. Belgium, August 2022 – October 2022

Consultation in respect of application brought by Mr. Nordin El Hajjiouji in relation to violation of article 6 arising from domestic criminal proceedings conducted in Belgium.

International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Prosecutor v. Turinabo et al., 2018 – 2021

Sarah assisted as legal consultant assisting the defence of Mr. Anselme Nzabonimpa in relation to contempt proceeding before the Residual Mechanism. The allegations stemmed from the review proceedings in Prosecutor v. Augustin Ngirabatware, who was convicted for genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The case primarily concerned the interrogation of forensic evidence collected from Mr. Nzabonimpa.

Read more:

International Criminal Court, Prosecutor v. Al Hassan, October 2019 – March 2020

Sarah acted as Associate Counsel assisting the defence of Mr. Al Hassan in relation to allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the situation of Mali.

Read more:

Read more International cases

Advisory work

Government of South Sudan, September 2021 – ongoing

Representation of designated individuals and entities subject to UN, US, EU and UK sanctions. In addition, providing technical training and legal advice in relation to wide range of judicial matters including, inter alia, electoral processes for forthcoming elections, documenting human rights abuses, military-related abuses, violations of arms embargo and ICC procedures.

United Nations International Impartial and Independent Mechanism, July 2020 – March 2021

Providing technical and expert assistance in relation to universal jurisdiction laws across twenty-two states.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom – February 2012- April 2012; October – December 2017; November – December 2021
  • Syrian Arab Republic (Department for International Development (independent). Providing technical assistance and training of investigators and lawyers for collection of forensic and witness evidence.
  • Somaliland (Department for International Development (Axiom Global). Providing technical assistance to judges and prosecutors in relation to the establishment of a continuing professional development programme.
  • Iraq and Kurdistan (Axiom Global). Providing legal advice in relation to compatibility of data protection laws with international standards
Government of Arab Republic of Egypt, January 2015- December 2016

Providing legal advice in relation to election processes in accordance with international standards.

Libya Information Centre, January 2014 – December 2016 (confidential)
Ministry of Human Rights in the Republic of Yemen and Yemen Center for Transitional Justice, March 2013- May 2016

Providing legal advice in a range of matters concerning human right abuses and ICC procedures

Amnesty International, February 2014 (confidential)
No Peace Without Justice (Bahrain) August 2012 – January 2013 (confidential)
Maritime Asset Security & Training Limited, March 2012- January 2013

Providing legal advice in relation to maritime law.

Syrian Emergency Task Force, November 2011 – January 2013

Providing legal advice in relation to collection of evidence.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2012

Legal consultation.

Read more Advisory work

Other Activities and Interests

  • Conference speaker on international law
  • Trainer on international procedure
  • Editor on international law

Professional commentary

"Sarah produces supremely good drafting." (Chambers, UK, 2024)
"Her strategic skills are excellent and she's a real team player." (Chambers UK, 2023)
"Sarah is a highly sought-after team member for international criminal cases. She is very bright, she works incredibly hard and she is a go-to person if you want a sensible insight into even the most esoteric aspects of international criminal law."
"Her strategic skills are excellent and she's a real team player." (Chambers, UK, 2023)
"Sarah is a stand-out junior in international criminal law. She is exceptionally skilled in case building and strategy, making her a lethal weapon in court proceedings." (Legal 500, 2023)
"A stalwart of the International Criminal Bar who is highly respected by everyone who works with her. Her knowledge of international criminal law is among the very best in the field." (Chambers UK, 2022)
"Sarah is a highly sought-after team member in international criminal cases. She is very bright, works incredibly hard, and is the go-to person if you want a sensible insight into even the most esoteric aspect of international criminal law." (Legal 500, 2022)
"A brilliant opponent, who makes all the right arguments in difficult cases. She doesn't hold back and never pulls her punches." "Sarah is incredibly hard-working, incisive and someone with a great strategic mind." (Chambers UK, 2021)
‘Sarah is an excellent, diligent and dynamic lawyer who has been fantastic to work with. She drafts extremely well, is very organised and able to manage and prioritise between different tasks and works very well as part of an international team based in various different locations. She also is a strong advocate, clear, concise and persuasive in her submissions.’ (Legal 500, 2021)
"An extraordinary lawyer with impressive analytical and strategic skills, who has an in-depth knowledge of international criminal law and procedure." "Her legal prowess is complemented by her particular insight into political situations in different countries. She will work tirelessly and skilfully to ensure a fair outcome for her client." "Sarah is an excellent, diligent and dynamic lawyer who drafts extremely well and is able to manage and prioritise different tasks." (Chambers UK, 2020)

Also ranked in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“Respected barrister with experience of handling international criminal cases before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the ICC. She is known for her consultancy work and for her specialism in cases stemming from the Libyan conflict. She also appears before the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh.
"She is incredibly hard-working, intimidatingly clever and she really knows everything there is to know about international criminal law." "She has a fantastic reputation within the industry."
Recent work: Acted in Prosecutor v Ayyash et al (Special Tribunal for Lebanon), a case concerning individuals being tried in absentia for the assassination of former Prime Minister for Lebanon Rafik Hariri, and 21 others, on 14 February 2005.” (Chambers UK, 2019)
"Intimidatingly clever with a brilliant work ethic" (Legal 500, 2019)
'Her reputation proceeds her. She is a creative advocate on her feet and on the papers' (Legal 500, 2019)
"Acted for one of four defendants tried in absentia for the assassination of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, and 21 others on 14 February 2005." (Chambers UK, 2018)
"A formidable lawyer with a razor-sharp legal mind. She is incredibly well organised and has a great deal of experience and understanding of international criminal law." (Chambers UK, 2018)
"She is a sound choice for even the most difficult of cases." (Chambers UK, 2017)
"Up-and-coming lawyer noted for her involvement in ICC proceedings, who recently defended one of the individuals who had been charged before the Lebanon tribunal with killing the country's former prime minister. She also has substantial experience of advising the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on human rights matters. Strengths: "She is extremely bright and speaks Arabic, which is an advantage in this field." (Chambers UK, 2016)
"Instructed in various hybrid tribunal cases." (Legal 500, 2017)


  • Arabic
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PROFILE: Sarah Bafadhel

Legal 500, 2024 Chambers UK, 2024

Year called




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Prison Law

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Human rights law

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020 7489 2727


2008-2009: BPP Professional Education, Bar Vocational Course

2005-2006: King’s College University of London, LLM Masters in Law specialising in Public International Law

2002-2005: University of Birmingham, LLB (Hons) Law


General Council of the Bar

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

Peace and Justice Initiative and International Bar Association


May 2022: Focal Point for Equality and Inclusivity, Association of Defence Counsel

March 2019: American Bar Association Task Force, “International Criminal Standards Project 2019”.

November 2018: Ombudsman Pro bono Counsel List to assist persons subject to Al Qaeda sanctions regime


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