Remarks by Claude Nicati at online conference on Iran on sidelines of 49th Session of UN Human Rights Council – 28 February 2022

The following is the text of remarks by Mr. Claude Nicati at an online conference by international human rights experts and NGOs on 28 February 2022, appealing to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to launch an inquiry into the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran:

Ladies and gentlemen. I was a former prosecutor, exactly in what we are talking about today.

Men, women, and children have died or disappeared. They did not die of old age. And they died in great numbers.

Even today, the truth about these disappearances and deaths has not been fully revealed. We don’t know why they died, even if we can imagine that it is related to their political opinion, their ideas, or their actions. The government has done nothing to justify these disappearances, and even today nothing is done or will be done. It is the law of silence – we call it Omert√†.

The law of silence is so strong that the dead have been placed in secret mass graves where no one knows who has been dumped.

That was over thirty years ago, but it feels like yesterday. It is not possible to rebuild a life, a nation when there are still shadows. The dead should not haunt the living, but for this to be possible, justice must be done.

Let me give you an example:

I was the prosecutor in charge of the first war crimes trial in Switzerland following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. At the end of the investigation and trial, which was not a simple matter, the accused person was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

When I left the Tribunal, a Rwandan woman I did not know hugged me and told me that now she finally knew, that now she could mourn the child or husband she had lost and that she could live. The dead were not going to live again, of course, but she was going to be able to.

I am coming back to the topic of this videoconference today.

An investigation must be conducted in a serious and impartial manner. And, following this, Justice with a capital J must be said. Justice may not be possible in Iran, although it is possible elsewhere.

Only then can the reconstruction be done, and these dead can sleep in peace.

I appeal to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that what was possible in Rwanda is also possible for what happened in Iran in 1988.

Claude Nicati is a Former Deputy Prosecutor General of Switzerland