7 February 2013 LONDON: The final judgement from the Iran Tribunal has been published following the second phase of the people’s court process held at the Peace Palace in The Hague between 25-27 October 2012. This judgement has created a legal precedent of state responsibility for crimes against humanity in a breach of international law as defined by the 2002 Rome Statute - the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Tribunal holds that the evidence tendered in these hearings supports a finding that crimes were committed by agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, beginning with the Supreme Leader, and ending with the executions in the prisons and these constitute a breach of international law.
The Prosecution in the Iran Tribunal charged the Islamic republic of Iran with five forms of “gross human rights abuses”, these being:
(i) murder, including of over 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 and over 12,000 political prisoners between 1981 to 1984;
(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 concluded:
- There is overwhelming evidence in support of the allegation that substantial and widespread violations of human rights occurred in Iranian prisons between 1981 and 1988;
- The violations were committed by state officials, judges, prosecutors, prison officials, torturers and interrogators “within the walls of state institutions and on direct instruction of state officials”;
- The violations were widespread and systematic and were committed against the civilian population in furtherance of the state policy; and
- As concluded by the Truth Commission, these violations of human rights were devised, instigated and executed (or caused to be executed) by a single central authority and as such the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only authority responsible for these acts.
The Iran Tribunal seeks 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 for holding beliefs that conflicted with the regime. The Tribunal saw six experienced international human rights judges convene to hear firsthand accounts of the atrocities committed against Iranian citizens. The Islamic Republic of Iran was invited to participate in the trial but has refused to engage with the Tribunal process.
Witnesses travelled from across the Iranian Diaspora, which spans North American and Europe, to shine a light on the humanitarian crimes committed by a regime that is still in power. The precursor to the Tribunal was a Truth Commission, held in London in June 2012, which documented and assembled witness statements and compiled a report.
This is the first hearing of its kind to address the crimes committed by a sitting government and will bring to the fore information that has been suppressed by the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than three decades. It is an historic investigation into the crimes committed against the people of Iran.
The Iran Tribunal Campaign is a grass root movement that has gained momentum, funding, support over the last twenty five years. It seeks to bring recognition for the victims who were intellectuals, students, leftists, members of opposition parties and ethnic and religious minorities, many whose crime was as innocuous as leaflet distribution but resulted in being sentenced to execution by the Death Commissions. The prisoners killed were from across the political and religious spectrum.
Prof John Cooper QC, Chairman of the Iran Tribunal’s Steering Committee said “This Tribunal will allow victims and their relatives to have their grievances aired for legal consideration for the very first time. People have worked tirelessly against a repressive regime for twenty five years to bring this Tribunal to fruition and can now see the judgement in full.”
About the Iran Tribunal Movement
The Iran Tribunal is s social movement, particularly focused on the decade of human rights abuses perpetrated against political prisoners throughout the 1980s, culminating in the political massacres in the summer of 1988. The stated aim of the Tribunal is to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for these massacres. This campaign is the culmination of a grassroots movement in Iran over the past 25 years, originated by the mothers, wives and sisters of victims.
The Tribunal compromised two stages: a ‘Truth Commission’ and the ‘Tribunal’. The Commission (June 2012) collected statements, witness documents and dossiers and produced a report on extensive executions in the early years of 1980s as well as mass execution of political prisoners in 1988. Subsequently, the Iran Tribunal investigated the findings of the Truth Commission and issued a judgement based on this and the trial at The Hague on 25-27 October 2012 at the Peace Palace. The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice, a body of the United Nations, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and The Hague Academy of International Law. The final judgement was published on 7 February 2013.
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