Makau W. Mutua, dean of SUNY Buffalo Law School, has agreed to serve as a judge at an international tribunal that will hear evidence of human rights abuses in Iran in the turbulent 1980s.
Published September 23, 2012 at 5:33 PM
The Iran Tribunal, an independent initiative, was set up to investigate and seek justice for such abuses as imprisonment without a fair trial; arbitrary executions, torture and rape of prisoners; and persecution on political and religious grounds. Mutua’s service will come during the tribunal’s deliberations from Oct. 25 to 27 at The Hague, Netherlands. About 19 witnesses will testify during this round of the deliberations, to be held at the Peace Palace.
A six-member team of prosecutors also made the case against the Islamic leadership in place in Iran during that time, presenting the 359-page report of a Truth Commission established to investigate the abuses. The commission’s report concluded, “These violations of human rights were devised, instigated and executed (or caused to be executed) by a single central authority and as such the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only authority responsible for these acts.”
In the first stage of the proceedings, held in London in June, 75 witnesses testified as victims of human rights abuses. The tribunal is considering whether the pattern of abuses from 1980 to 1988 qualifies as “crimes against humanity” as defined by Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Mutua has joined a distinguished panel of judges that includes Johann Kriegler, a former judge of South Africa’s highest court; Professor Michael Mansfield of City University, London; John Dugard, a South African professor of international law; Professor Patricia Viseur Sellers, a visiting fellow at Kellogg College of Oxford University, England; international human rights activist Mireille Fanon Mendes; and Norman Paech, professor emeritus of the University of Hamburg, Germany.
Widely published and well-known for his work in international human rights, Mutua previously chaired the Task Force on the Establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in his native Kenya. He also was a delegate to the National Constitutional Conference, the forum that produced a contested draft constitution for Kenya. He currently serves as vice president of the American Society of International Law and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mutua has conducted numerous human rights, diplomatic, and rule of law missions to countries in Africa, Latin America, and Europe. He has lectured and spoken at public forums in many parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, France and Ethiopia.