Stages of the Investigation

The description below is intended to be a brief sketch of the method by which an investigation of the gross human rights violations committed by the Iranian government in the 1980’s will take place. 

As you will note, the proposal below is a hybrid of various international models of justice.  Since the bodies established under this proposal will not have actual legal authority, they need not be constrained by existing legal traditions.  As such, the proposal creatively draws from the “Truth Commission” model.  The proposal also includes a tribunal that will pass judgment upon alleged culprits of gross violations of human rights. 

According to the proposed plan, the investigation of human rights abuses in Iran in the 1980s will be compromised of two stages: a “Truth Commission” and the “Tribunal”.

 

Stage 1:  The Truth Commission

Description

The Truth Commission (the “Commission”) will be similar both to a “Truth Commission” (as such institutions have been popularized in recent years) and to a “Grand Jury” (as such institution has been used in Russell Tribunal tradition.) 

The Commission will assess whether a report can be issued regarding the gross violations of human rights in the 1980s.

The raison d’être of the Commission is to allow the family members of the victims (the family members of political prisoners who were massively executed in 1980s), and survivors of this human tragedy to have a voice, to publicize the abuses of  human rights and to record the atrocities. 

Mandate

The Commission, established to investigate the murder of political prisoners and other gross human rights violations, will be unusual in its mandate as it investigate a government that is still in power.

The Commission will be responsible for investigating the gross violations of human rights by the Iranian government in the 1980s. 

Members

The Commission will be comprised of six to ten high profile individuals who will examine the weight of the evidence and produce (I) a report; and (ii) a recommendation as to whether the evidence warrants a trial. The indictment will later be issued by the prosecuting team.

Preparatory Work                     

 

The Steering Committee of the Iran Tribunal which has been established in December 2010, will gather research and witness statements (together, the “Documents”) to be presented to the Commission. 

Individuals who give witness statements must limit their statements to personal experiences. For example, families of political prisoners must limit their statements to what happened regarding the death of their relatives.

Evidence

The Commission will examine the Documents gathered by the Steering Committee.  The strict rules governing the introduction of documentary evidence in pre-trial stages will be more relaxed in the Commission, thus permitting the introduction of all relevant Documents.

Timeline

The Commission will hold its hearing sessions in London from 18th June 2012 to 22nd June 2012 at the Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre.  Over the 5 days hearing sessions up to 80 witnesses will be heard.  The Commissioners will be invited to attend conference calls in May and June 2012, prior to the hearing, to regulate the hearings and select a chairman from amongst themselves.

The relevant documents (including a précis of witness statements will be circulated in advance.

It has to be very clear – and should be publicized with a press conference with the entire commission in attendance – when the commission will start accepting documents.

Final Product

The Commission will produce (i) a report based on documents they have received in the course of the Commission’s operations; and (ii) recommendations to the Prosecuting team in relation to the Indictment.

Coordination                                  

The Steering Committee will assign one individual – preferably a lawyer – with the task of leading and coordinating activities related to the organization of the Commission. 

 

Stage 2:  The Tribunal

Description

If the Commission recommends that the documents they have examined merits a hearing by the Tribunal, such Tribunal shall be formed immediately and shall examine the evidence. 

The Tribunal shall function similar to a court, with prosecutorial and a panel of judges which shall decide on gross violations of human rights in the 1980s carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Mandate

The Tribunal will examine only those indictments issued by the Prosecuting Team.

Members

The Tribunal will have a panel of judges comprised of six to seven members selected from prominent international judges and eminent jurists.

Evidence

The Tribunal will examine the documents and witness statements reviewed by the Commission and will hear testimony of selected survivors, families of victims and experts.  Upon examination of such evidence, the Tribunal will decide whether such evidence merits a conviction.

The evidence will be presented by the Prosecution Team who will also make submissions to the Tribunals in connection with the international obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran for respecting human rights of its citizens; the violations of both domestic and international law obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the basis for charging Iran with crimes against humanity.

Defense

The defendants named by the Commission shall be entitled to a defense team comprised of lawyers.  The defendants will likely not appear.

Prosecution

Members of the Commission who have recommended a hearing by the Tribunal (if applicable) may serve as members of the prosecution team.

Timeline

The length of time devoted to this Tribunal is expected to be three days in the end of October 2012.  The exact date and place to be determined based on the availability of the Judges of the Tribunal.

Final Product

 

The judges of the Tribunal shall deliberate and announce their verdict which shall be reasoned.  The deliberation sessions shall take place at the discretion of the Tribunal after the Hearing.

Funding

The funding for the proceedings will be provided by a special coordinating committee established by the organizers, a large group of survivors and family members of the victims of the gross violations of human rights in the 1980s.

The committee has been, and will continue to, be conducting fundraising activities.