Op-Ed: Existing Tools Can Deal with Iran's Crimes
“Ahmadinejhad’s Iran – I use that term to distinguish it from the people and publics of Iran who are targets of massive domestic repression – constitutes a clear and present danger to international peace and security, to regional and Middle East stability, and increasingly, and alarmingly so, to its own people.
“We are witnessing in Ahmadinejhad’s Iran the toxic convergence of four distinct yet interrelated threats: nuclear, genocidal incitement, terrorism and massive violations of human rights.”
Professor Irwin Cotler is a Member of the Canadian Parliament for the Liberal Party, Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He is Co-Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran.
Cotler says, “Iran is in standing violation of international legal prohibitions, with respect to its nuclear weaponization program. Iran supports Syria's Bashar al-Assad killing his own people. It is also the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, killing innocents from Argentina to Lebanon, Afghanistan to Syria. Furthermore, it has the highest per-capita rate of executions of minors worldwide.
“In particular, Iran’s state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide has been persistent, pervasive and pernicious, yet little attention has been paid to the imperative of legal remedy. A website affiliated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared in February that Iran would be justified in killing all Israeli Jews. This Tehran's long-range missiles could accomplish in nine minutes, boasted the site.
"Khamenei, for his part, called Israel a ‘cancerous tumor that must be removed.’ He has also declared that there is ‘justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and Iran must take the helm.’ As an all-party report of the Canadian Parliament concluded, Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under international law.
“Yet a panoply of remedies exist to combat it. State parties to the U.N. Genocide Convention should file complaints against Iran—which is also party to the convention—before the International Court of Justice.
"Member states should request that the U.N. Security Council pass a resolution condemning Iran's incitement to genocide and refer the matter to the International Criminal Court, which can indict Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and their collaborators, as it has Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. This threat of criminal prosecution should be added to existing diplomatic and economic pressures meant to deter terrorism and nuclear-weapon development by Tehran.
“In counteracting the Iranian wave of state terror, the international community should hold the perpetrators to account. Otherwise a culture of impunity continues to encourage terrorism itself.
"All states have the responsibility to use all instruments at their disposal to confront Iranian terrorist aggression. These include for instance, increasing bilateral and multilateral diplomatic and economic sanctions; the mobilization of political pressure to isolate the Iranian regime as a pariah among the nations; the naming and shaming of Iranian perpetrators and their Hizbullah proxies to combat Iranian denial of their culpability and bringing these perpetrators to justice.
“To mention just a few among many other measures: states should list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an organization that has been at the vanguard of the Islamic Republic’s campaign of state terrorism, as a terrorist entity.
"An Argentinean judiciary’s decision has led to Interpol arrest warrants against the perpetrators of the murders of many Israeli diplomats and Jews in Buenos Aires. These warrants should be enforced.
"Furthermore, civil suits should be instituted where appropriate against Iran and its terrorist agents for its perpetration of acts of terror.
"The principle of universal jurisdiction should be invoked to hold Iran’s leaders–under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity–accountable.
“In the matter of Iran’s systematic and widespread assaults on the human rights of its own people, governments, parliamentarians, media, NGOs, church leaders, trade unionists, academics and many others should expose, unmask, and hold Iran accountable for its massive domestic repression. In that regard, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and I have established an Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran. Our group has initiated the Global Iranian Political Prisoner Advocacy Program, calling on parliamentarians internationally to ‘adopt’ a political prisoner and create a critical mass of advocacy on behalf of these prisoners of conscience.
“Furthermore all states should make major efforts to support dissidents directly by funding programs to help activists mobilize and circumvent electronic barriers. In addition, we must put pressure on satellite companies that carry Iranian state television, as the Iranian authorities use their airwaves not only to spread propaganda, but for televising coerced confessions and show trials as well.”
Cotler concludes: “There is no absence of remedies - some are political and some are diplomatic. Others are economic and legal. We need to internationalize the advocacy, and invoke an integrated critical mass of remedy to counteract the intersecting critical mass of threat. Silence and indifference is not an option. The time to act is now.”