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Condemned by Law: Assassination of Political Dissidents Abroad

Contrary to its obligations under the Covenant and its own constitution, Iran has consistently violated the Covenant’s guarantee of the right to life both inside and outside its borders.86 Not only has the regime failed to prevent the commission of extrajudicial killings by its own security forces, it has actively encouraged these practices.87 Such was the finding of the 1996 U.N. General Assembly resolution 51/107 addressing state-sponsored violence and extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.88 Although the resolution was generally aimed at condemning human rights violations inside the country, it

deplore[d] the politically motivated continuing violence against Iranians outside the Islamic Republic of Iran, and urge[d] the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to refrain from activities against members of the Iranian opposition living abroad and the harassment of their relatives within the Islamic Republic of Iran and to cooperate wholeheartedly with the authorities of other countries in investigating and punishing offences reported by them.89

In addition to U.N. resolutions, the Special Rapporteur has documented a number of extrajudicial executions committed by the Islamic Republic abroad in his reports in 1993, 1996 and 1997.90 Along with numerous reports detailing the long list of state-sanctioned executions that fail to meet the most basic substantive and procedural due process standards,91 the Rapporteur’s body of work presents a forceful condemnation of the regime’s blatant disregard of the fundamental protections guaranteed by Article 6 of the ICCPR.92

4.1.2. Duty to Provide Due Process Pursuant to a “Fair Hearing”

The Covenant’s Article 6 protections are inextricably linked to the member state’s duty to provide judicial due process before it limits, interferes with or otherwise extinguishes an individual’s right to life (or liberty).93 The duty to provide judicial due process is reflected in Articles 6(2),94 9 and 14 of the Covenant.95 These articles provide minimum guarantees designed to protect the pretrial, trial and post-trial rights of an individual during the indictment, arrest, charging, detention, conviction and sentencing phases.96 It follows, therefore, that notwithstanding the veneer of judicial legitimacy attached to “executions” carried out by member states, any deprivation of the

[86]See generally NO SAFE HAVEN, supra note 25; MURDER AT MYKONOS, supra note 35.
[87]See id.
[88]G.A. Res 51/107, ¶¶ 1, 6, 9, 10, U.N. GAOR, 51st sess., U.N. Doc. A/RES/51/107 (Mar. 3, 1997).
[90]See Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1994/7 (7 Dec. 1993); Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1996/4 (25 Jan. 1996); Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, U.N. E/CN.4/1997/60/Add.1 (23 Dec. 1996).
[91]See, e.g., OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER ON HUMAN RIGHTS, Report of the Special Rapporteur, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/4/20 (Jan. 29, 2007) [hereinafter Report of the Special Rapporteur of Jan. 29, 2007]; PROJECT ON EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS, CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND GLOBAL JUSTICE, N.Y.U. SCHOOL OF LAW, Islamic Republic of Iran: Visits and Communications, available at www.extrajudicialexecutions.org/communications/iran.html (last visited Oct. 31, 2008).
[92]These findings led the Special Rapporteur to conclude that no other country had exhibited such a persistent and troubling pattern of extrajudicial killings. Report of the Special Rapporteur of Jan. 29, 2007 para. 17, supra note 91.
[93]ICCPR art. 6, supra note 10.
[94]Article 6(2) reads: “Th[e] penalty [of death] can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court.” Id. art. 6(2).
[95]ICCPR arts. 9, 14, supra note 10.
[96]U.N. Human Rights Comm., General Comment 32, Article 14: Right to Equality Before Courts and to a Fair Trial para. 31, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/GC/32 (Aug. 23, 2007) [hereinafter General Comment 32].

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Political Killings, Assassinations, Political Freedom