At an international event that was held at the NCRI headquarters near Paris to discuss the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, former Minister of Justice for Moldova and former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights Stanislav Pavlovschi emphasized the need for justice and accountability.
Judge Pavlovschi raised concerns about the lack of a fair judicial system in Iran, where human rights and dignity are not adequately protected. He advocated for an international, independent investigation into alleged extrajudicial executions and highlighted the importance of a judicial system that adheres to the principles of fair trial and modern justice, stressing the need to abolish the death penalty and other forms of cruel and inhuman punishment.
The full script of Judge Stanislav Pavlovschi’s speech follows:
Dear Mrs. President, dear friends, and colleagues. It’s my honor to be here today together with you and frankly, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to the organizers for this absolutely unique possibility to address such an honorable audience.
The situation current situation in Iran can be discussed from very many various points of view political, economic, social, and cultural aspects. But being a lawyer with a very lengthy experience, over 40 years of experience, and being a judge of the European Court of Human Rights, of course, it is closer to me to discuss legal issues.
The massacre of 1988, which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, was a tragic event that deeply shocked not only Iranian society but the entire civilized world. I bore my head in memory of the victims and express my deepest condolences and sympathy to their loved ones and relatives. To those who have been seeking justice for decades. It is known justice delayed is justice denied, and the time for justice has come.
Such tragic events should have no place in the world based on the principles of humanity, where human life and dignity are absolute values protected by all jurisdictions, and the world should do everything to guarantee that they will never happen again.
The problem of immunity of those allegedly involved in the mass killing of people remains very serious. There is a clear need for an international, independent, and effective investigation into alleged extrajudicial executions. The United Nations are trying to take some steps in this direction. Without such an investigation, it would be simply impossible to establish the truth.
But having said that, I asked myself would these tragic events have ever happened if there was a judicial system in Iran that operates on the principles of a fair trial? A judiciary in which judges are truly independent and act impartially. Where accused and defendants are free to use legal aid and to choose the lawyer of their choice. Where lawyers and public prosecutors have the same procedural rights, where proceedings are adversarial, and where judges make their decisions only after careful consideration of all the evidence submitted by both the prosecution and the defense. Of course, such tragic events would never have happened.
Stanislav Pavlovschi (#Moldova), Minister of Justice (2019)-European Court of Human Rights Judge (2001-2008):
The 1988 massacre was a tragic event. It shocked the entire civilized world. Justice delayed is justice denied. #1988Massacre #FreeIran2023 pic.twitter.com/Zrba7IOZ3b
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) July 22, 2023
Yes, no legal system is completely immune to error. But the risk of conviction of innocent person people in a fair trial is much lower than in a legal system that goes against the basic principles of modern justice, especially when it comes to the death penalty.
It is possible to repair judicial errors when, for instance, a person is sentenced to imprisonment. But how can we repair mistakes committed in reference to a person who has already been executed? And this is one of the reasons why the European Convention on Human Rights, in absolute terms, prohibits such forms of punishment. Consider them to be inhuman.
For my part, I would add, that life is given to human beings by God, and only God can take it away. Many other forms of punishment widely applied in Iran are also of great concern. And here I’m referring to various forms of corporal punishment that are cruel and inflict terrible suffering on people, leading to mutilation.
Also, there is a lot of credible information about the use of torture by law enforcement agencies to illegally obtain confessions from the accused. Of course, such forms of investigation are incompatible with the fundamental rights of the accused, including their right to remain silent.
The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits all forms of punishment and treatment that are inhuman and degrading. The situation is even more dramatic when it comes to young people who are subject to such forms of punishment and inhuman and degrading treatment. The future belongs to the youth, and killing young people means killing the future. Iranians are one of the oldest nations, if not the oldest one in the world.
Their history exceeds 5000 years. They have a very rich culture and very rich national traditions. But the question remains whether, in conditions of modern life, it is in the best interests of people to continue to apply and be subject to human and degrading forms of punishment and treatment which were applied hundreds and thousands of years ago.
My answer is definitely no.
Do Iranian people deserve to enjoy the benefits of modern legal principles and systems? Will these changes of structural nature prevent such tragic events as the 1988 massacre from happening again in the future?
My answer is definitely yes.
As you know, there are various human rights mechanisms, and protection mechanisms in the world the European Court of Human Rights, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, and the African Court of Human and People’s Rights. But there is no such mechanism for the Asian region, the Middle East included. Accordingly, the Asian population is deprived of international protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In my opinion, the time has come to open the discussion on the drafting or special inter-Asian Convention of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms and ultimately establish an inter-Asian Court of Human Rights which would protect people from what we are witnessing now in Iran and other parts of Asia.
So, you dear friends have a lot of problems in front of us to solve. I wish you all the very best in your endeavors and may God help you.