On the 14th of July 2022, Counsel to the Iran’s Atrocities (Aban) Tribunal, Hamid Sabi, presented the Tribunal’s work at the 9th Master Class by the Geoffrey Nice Foundation held in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Addressing an international audience of law students on people’s tribunals, Hamid Sabi highlighted the significance of the Aban Tribunal for the Iranian people in their pursuit of justice and accountability for the government’s brutal suppression of people’s protests in November 2019 in Iran. The November 2019 protests erupted countrywide due to a steep hike in petrol prices and were violently and systematically suppressed by the state.

“People’s tribunals come into play when all other avenues to justice are blocked due to political unwillingness, they will remain a vital instrument for the fight against impunity”, Sabi stated after discussing people’s tribunals focused on Iran.

Hamid Sabi

The Aban Tribunal has seen 160 government officials accused of crimes against humanity for the suppression of public protests in November 2019 in Iran. The Tribunal proceedings involved 59 witnesses giving testimonies, in person or over videocall, and further 200 submitted written testimonies.

“Media played a significant part in publicising the Aban Tribunal- it was broadcasted directly to Iran with an estimated 15 million viewers in Iran watching the five-day proceedings of the first hearing in November 2021”, Sabi stated informing the audience of the tribunal’s public support.

Noting the power of people’s tribunals, Sabi discussed the trial of Hamid Noury in Sweden which saw Noury convicted to life imprisonment for his involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1988 mass killings of political prisoners in Iran. Noury was named by a witness who testified during the 2012 Iran tribunal proceedings. The 2012 tribunal was a people’s mechanism which sought to investigate and document evidence of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.

Noury’s conviction marks the first time an Iranian official has been convicted for involvement in crimes against humanity under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Sabi emphasised the role of the 2012 Iran Tribunal in this conviction as evidence from this tribunal was instrumental in the case against Noury.

As the first conviction of an Iranian official for crimes against humanity has now been attained, what follows the Aban judgement remains highly anticipated by Iranians, home and abroad, who are fighting against impunity.

“The prosecution of Noury with the use of evidence from the tribunal presents a watershed moment and is of high legal and moral significance for the people of Iran.” Sabi explained to the Master Class students.

The topic of this year’s Master Class was “INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW AND GENOCIDE: an interdisciplinary approach” and it was organised in cooperation with European Law Students Association (ELSA). The Master Class aimed to educate participants about the Bosnian war, peaking in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and the repercussions for the ethnically diverse population of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans. This year’s master class discussed the concept of genocide through legal and sociological perspectives. The Master Class featured a line-up of eminent lawyers, historians, human rights advocates, and filmmakers.