Prime Minister Alexander De Croo
Rue de la Loi 16
URGENT – By email: [email protected]
4 July 2022
Subject: Belgian Government’s draft law related to the ‘Transfer of Sentenced Persons’ to the Islamic Republic of Iran
Dear Prime Minister,
We are deeply concerned by a treaty on the ‘Transfer of Sentenced Persons’ signed secretly between Belgium and the Islamic Republic of Iran in March 2022, which would allow convicted Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi to be transferred back to Iran where he would certainly be set free.
Assadi was convicted by the Belgian Judiciary for masterminding the attempted bombing of an international ‘Free Iran’ convention in France in 2018. Police records show that Assadi personally transferred a powerful bomb in his diplomatic bag on a commercial flight from Iran to Austria and later handed the bomb to two terrorists to use at a convention attended by tens of thousands of people including hundreds of distinguished international personalities.
The Belgian Judiciary handed down a definitive maximum possible sentence to Assadi and stated that he was acting on behalf of the Iranian state.
Last Friday, it was brought to our attention that on 11 March 2022, Belgium quietly signed a treaty with Iran that allows persons sentenced in the territory of either party to be transferred to the territory of the other party.
Allowing Assadi to serve the remainder of his 20-year sentence in Iran, the state which was responsible for the attempted terrorist bombing, would make a mockery of the rule of law and foster further impunity for the Iranian government and its officials involved in terrorism and crimes against humanity.
Most worryingly, Article 13 of the treaty signed with Iran states: “Each Party may grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of the sentence in accordance with its Constitution or other laws.”
That article would effectively allow the Iranian government to grant a pardon to Assadi the moment he arrives in Iran.
This treaty’s adoption as law by the Belgian Parliament would effectively free Assadi from serving his sentence and would set a dangerous precedent and seriously weaken the rule of law in Europe. It would encourage more Iranian terrorism on EU soil and reassure Iranian officials that they could evade responsibility for major international crimes. Belgium would bear a heavy responsibility in this regard.
We would like to remind you that United Nations Security Council resolution 1373, which was adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and which is binding on all UN Member States, decides that all States shall: “Ensure that any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts or in supporting terrorist acts is brought to justice and ensure that, in addition to any other measures against them, such terrorist acts are established as serious criminal offences in domestic laws and regulations and that the punishment duly reflects the seriousness of such terrorist acts.” (S/RES/1373, 28 Sept. 2001)
We strongly urge the government of Belgium to withdraw its request from the parliament and to terminate this unethical and scandalous treaty with the Iranian theocracy, and we equally urge the Parliament of Belgium to declare this treaty to be defeating the European efforts to fight terrorism and turn down its approval.
Prof. Eric David – Member of the UN-affiliated International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (2006-2016); International Public Law Professor. Em., Université Libre de Bruxelles – (Belgium)
Prof. Stefan Trechsel – President of the European Commission of Human Rights (1995–1999); Judge, UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) (2006-2013) – (Switzerland)
Prof. Valeriu M. Ciucă – Judge, General Court of the European Union (2007-2010) – (Romania)
Prof. Giovanni Grasso – Former International Judge of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina; former Judge of the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina – (Italy)
Claude Nicati – Deputy Prosecutor General of Switzerland (2001-2009); former President of the Government of the State of Neuchâtel (Switzerland); former investigating judge, Neuchâtel; Member of the List of Counsel for the International Criminal Court (ICC) – (Switzerland)
Dainius Pūras – UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Physical and Mental Health (2014-2020); Chairman of the Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council (2018-2019) – (Lithuania)
Tahar Boumedra – Former Chief of UNAMI Human Rights Office and Representative of the HCHR in Iraq – (United Kingdom)
Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI) – (United Kingdom)
- Vincent Van Quickenborne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and the North Sea
- Eliane Tillieux, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Belgium
- Els Van Hoof, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of Belgium