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 Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980’s will take place.
The below outline is a hybrid of various international models of justice. Since the bodies established under this outline will not have actual legal authority, they need not be constrained by existing legal traditions. The outline includes forum of the “Truth Commission” and the “Tribunal”. The main purpose of the Truth Commission, apart from its cathartic role, is to allow the voices of the families of the victims and the survivors be heard by the rest of the world and reflect the crimes and horrors of the death camps of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Commission will aim to collect statements, witness documents, dossiers and to produce a report on extensive executions in the early years of 1980s as well as mass execution of political prisoners in 1988. The report shall be prepared by a jurist who is leading the panel to look authentic to the Iranian people. It is important that the tribunal would take note of the report produces by the commission. The report will not be a substitute for the Judgment of the Tribunal.
As Tribunal is to investigate the entire 1980s political mass executions and the existing reports are mostly limited to 1988 political killings, the commission would provide the background information for the entire of the decade.
Structure of the Truth Commission
The Commission will be comprised of six eminent persons from various professions including two to three jurists. Steering Committee shall appoint all members of the Commission and a jurist leading the work. And if necessary, to appoint a secretary to organize and manage the whole process. The secretary could be a member of the commission, Steering Committee, Executive committee or from outside.
The Process of the Truth Commission
The “Truth Commission” would hold sessions on five consecutive days. This would entail at a maximum of three hour hearing sessions in the morning and afternoon, with half hour breaks every one and a half hour, for a total of six hours of testimony per day, amounting to 30 hours during the five days. The commission can receive and consider documents for a longer period prior to its meeting.
The proceedings consist of hearing statements of 80-100 members of the families of victims and the survivors. Statement should be delivered by “witnesses” without questioning or cross-examination. Each “witness” would have 20 to 30 minutes to present their statements. Their statements can be in English or Persian. Facilities will be provided for simultaneous translation of the witness statements into one of these languages.
Individuals who give expert or victim statements must limit their statements to personal experiences or areas of expertise. For example, families of the victims must limit their statements to what happened regarding the death of their relatives.
Members of the “Truth Commission” may raise questions for clarification, but shall be requested not to engage in lengthy debates with the witnesses.
Selection of the witnesses will be by a committee to be appointed by the Steering Committee. Sufficient care should be taken that the 80-100 witnesses are a cross section of the regions in Iran; political affiliations; gender and age and ethnic groups.
The statement of the witnesses will be recorded both by video and tape and will be made available for future reference by the Tribunal.
The Truth Commission will hold its session in London at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre from 18-22 June 2012. “Truth Commission” shall be established 18 to 22 June 2012.
The prosecution team shall prepare an indictment following the conclusion of the work of the Truth Commission. The indictment would name the Islamic of Republic of Iran as the party responsible for the crimes against humanity. In the course of offering the evidence reference should be made to individuals and their respective roles in perpetrating the crimes, however, no formal accusation shall be leveled against these individuals.
The indictment would set out the offences committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran by reference to criminal laws of Iran as well as international standard recognized by civilized nations. Reference will be made to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Liberties, both of which are joined by Iran as a member. The indictment would also refer to standards established by the International Criminal Court in relation to crimes against humanity.
Following the Commission’s hearing, the Tribunal shall open it’s sessions with three day hearings from 25 to 27 October 2012 at Peace Palace in The Hague.
The Tribunal would consist of six judges who are eminent jurists, a prosecution team of seven people, and (if so decided by the Steering Committee) a defence team of two to three people.
Prosecution and defence should agree in advance to the questions they will ask of witnesses to ensure that the testimony provides the most comprehensive and best reflection of the facts and legal issues involved.
Should the Steering Committee decide to appoint a defence team (or a single defence attorney) then further consideration should be given as to the scope of its duty and the issues that the defence team intends to challenge.
The Tribunal requires a president to lead the hearings. The President could be a member of the Tribunal or from outside.
The Tribunal will examine the report provided by the Commission and will hear live testimony from victims, survivors, families of executed political prisoners, experts and documents presented by prosecution team. Upon examination of such evidence, the Tribunal will decide whether such evidence merits a conviction.