08 February, 2013

The Iran Tribunal ~ Judgment

The Iran Tribunal has given its judgment relating to events in Iran in the 1980s under the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini.   See the Tribunal's Press Release of 7th February (PDF).  The full Judgment may be downloaded here  (Word Document).

Media Comment - The Independent 7th February 2013 - Iran's Srebrenica: How Ayatollah Khomeini sanctioned the deaths of 20000 enemies of the State. 

The Tribunal sought to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran against the country’s political prisoners during the 1980s, when between 15,000 and 20,000 citizens were tortured and executed under the power of the Khomeini’s Fatwa (Telegraph 4th February 2001) for holding beliefs that conflicted with the regime.  The Tribunal heard firsthand accounts of the appalling atrocities committed against Iranian citizens.  The Islamic Republic of Iran was invited to participate in the trial but refused to engage with the Tribunal process.

The Tribunal comprised 6 respected jurists under the chairmanship of Judge Johann Kriegler (Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa 1994-2002) and was assisted by
a team of prosecutors including Sir Geoffrey Nice QC and John Cooper QC (25 Bedford Row).   John Cooper was also Chairman of the tribunal's Steering Committee.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was charged with five forms of gross human rights abuses:

(i) murder of over 12,000 political prisoners between 1981 to 1984 and over 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 

(ii) torture, both physical and psychological;

(iii) persecution, against political dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities;

(iv) sexual abuse, of both men and women; and,

(v) unlawful imprisonment, including detention without trial, use of kangaroo courts, and subjection to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  

The prosecution commented on the cruel treatment to which prisoners’ families were subjected, which has left a “legacy of abuse [that] is extensive and inevitably persists to the present day”.

The Tribunal's verdict:

(I)       The Islamic Republic of Iran has committed crimes against humanity in the 1980-1989 periods against its own citizens in violation of applicable international laws;

(II)    The Islamic Republic of Iran bears absolute responsibility for the gross violations of human rights against its citizens under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; and,

(III)   Customary International law holds the Islamic Republic of Iran fully accountable for its systematic and widespread commission of crimes against humanity in Iran in the 1980-1989 period.
The Tribunal was not a formal court and its determination does not have binding legal forceNevertheless, it has considerable moral force and is entitled to great respect because of the careful way in which the tribunal went about its business and for the findings which are undoubtedly well borne out by the evidence presented.  These terrible events deserved greater condemnation than they received at the time.  It is to be hoped that the verdict brings some solace to those who continue to suffer.

The Tribunal members:

A profile of each of the tribunal members is available here .... see also

Judge Johann Kriegler
Professor Patricia Sellers
Margaret Ratner Kunstler
Professor Makau Mutua
Michael Mansfield QC
Professor John Dugard SC

Previous posts:

26th May 2011 (Massacre of prisoners in Iran - "Do you think we should have given them sweets?" - The Iran Tribunal).  That post explained the background to the Tribunal.      

30th October 2012 (The Iran Tribunal - The Hague 25-27 October 2012) where the hearing at The Hague was considered.  That hearing followed on from a Truth Commission process which issued a report in September 2012.  The report is 357 pages and is exceptionally harrowing.  The report provides in detail the manner of arrest, the brutal tortures that were carried out by the regime in the Iranian prisons and mass executions between 1981 and 1988.  The report further investigates the disastrous impact of these brutalities on the families of the victims and the survivors of the torture and imprisonment. 

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