The UNHCR's intervention is not final word
By The Rah-Nama monthly
Dr. Gholamreza Khaji is the vice president of the social and cultural commission of Mashhad city's Islamic council. He received his PhD in international law from Australia. In a conversation with him, The Rah-Nama monthly discussed how a motion can be filed in international communities including the Supreme Court of Europe and other international legal entities.
How can a motion be filed against the Mujahedin e-Khalq crimes in international communities such as the Supreme Court of Europe or other legal entities? What legal approach do you suggest to compensate the delay in filing the complaint?
The government took proper measures and was successful in confronting the terrorist group. But after escaping the country, although they had committed various documented crimes which can't be denied in any international courts, the MEK started hiding its real face in behind of the western founded Civil and Human Rights which are mainly planned to favor the western interests. So we should have worked harder. We could have taken many legal actions and it is not too late yet. These actions include:
First: Adopt the measures taken internationally against such groups. Complaints can be filed against the MEK members by European residents as this terrorist group has criminal records in our country and complaints can be filed against criminals living in Europe.
The second is via the international criminal court in The Hague. There are two international criminal courts: the juridical court in which the law cases are pursued by governments. The other one is the criminal court, judging international criminals with a certain procedure which prosecutes the international criminals and governments are ordered to hand over those criminals. According to the definition of crime and international criminals in the statue of this court, the MEK can be referred to as an international criminal organization. Both the victim families and the judicial entities can file complaints against them.
Third: As MEK members are located in various countries, another approach can be suggested. Countries such as Belgium, Turkey and Hungary have criminal laws to prosecute international criminals. In these countries the claimant can ask the court to summon them as international criminals. There are 8 countries with such rules which are ready to prosecute the international criminals.
Fourth: The Human Rights Council provides us with some options, too. The governments supporting international criminals, sheltering them or providing them with facilities, must be held responsible in Human Rights Council. So both the government and the victims' families can have the countries supporting or sheltering MEK terrorists adjudged by continuously filing complaints. And at last the Human Rights council sends observers and investigates the issue.
Fifth: The governments can get the countries supporting the MEK condemned by collecting signatures in the UN General Assembly.
Proper counter terrorism laws have been passed internationally. It is not like 20 years ago. The terrorism has become a global issue now. So the issue can be raised in General Assembly and governments may be condemned for supporting or sheltering the terrorists.
For instance, when the baseless accusation of Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. was referred to the General Assembly, a resolution was issued. Although some people wrongly believed it was against Iran, the resolution was a general one. Iran was also asked to hand over the convict if he really existed. They made a legal rule out of nothing and called it a resolution against Iran. But the ones who have reportedly assassinated more than 12000 innocent civilians including pregnant women, children, old men and women, and low living in European countries as refugees are easily ignored!
The criminal cannot be refugee. A refugee is a person who has committed no crimes. Resolutions can be issued in General Assembly against those countries that have sheltered them.
It will also be good for the future. As the MEK is being relocated to Camp Liberty and following the relocation, comes their expulsion from Iraq, the governments would consider the resolution and will behave more carefully in dealing with the terrorists.
Would you explain the legal aspects of U.N Commissioner and the U.S. interference in their relocation to Camp Liberty?
The MEK's presence in Camp Ashraf and their relocation to another place like Liberty and in general, terrorists' relocation to other places is against international conventions. The Americans are working in Iraq as occupiers and according to international law, the security of the occupied country and welfare of its people, as well as their food must be supplied by the occupier.
The Iraqi government is even qualified to exile or expel an Iraqi citizen. Now it is about non Iraqi residents living in Iraq and the Iraqi government is clearly qualified to decide on them and the government has now decided to expel them. But the Americans are interfering in the whole process as the occupier. They interfere in issues such as where to take them? Or where to relocate them? And even if the Iraqi government decides to keep them and grant them asylum, the subject won't change; They are international criminals and the Iraqi government is not allowed to grant them asylum. When the Iraqi government doesn't intend to keep them, the occupier is not allowed to interfere and it is against the international conventions to support them.This interference can be pursued in international courts. They can file complaints against the U.S. in the international criminal court and Human Rights council.
Now that the U.S. government is not officially the occupier and it has taken all its military troops out of Iraq and has handed the Iraqi security to the Iraqi forces, something different is happening. Ashraf residents have asked the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to be recognized as asylum seekers. The commissioner recognized them and now it is supposed to start the process of enrolling them to become refugees in a camp under the commissioner's observance. Is the commissioner able to change the nature of MEK from a militia group supported by occupiers to asylum seeker?
The person who asks for asylum cannot be a criminal. Criminals must be returned. Of course there are no conventions on this but there are mutual agreements on this. So the asylum seeker must not have committed a crime.
If a criminal is appeared in a country other than his own country, transboundary rulings may be raised. Meaning the criminal's home country may be allowed to conduct exterritorial operations to capture him. They said about Timothy McVeigh, the person who bombed the federal building, that they will capture him wherever he is in the world. They also arrested Noriega, the then president of Panama, under the accusation of drug smuggling in his presidential house. I am not saying whatever the U.S. has done is legal. I am trying to say the Iranian government may start its exterritorial operations in order to capture the criminals and this is going to make things hard for governments. So the governments shouldn't create more tension.
If a country takes a terrorist as an asylum seeker, it will be creating problems for itself. The international laws don't allow this either. The fact that the refugee should have a clean record is in the refugee laws. The refugee is a person who can't live in his own country due to the present legal regulations and the space created there. The human Rights have allowed him to ask for asylum and live in another country since he can't stand the pressure. It is not like someone can kill another in a country and take asylum from another country and live there. The international system doesn't accept this and it is against the refugee statues.
Is this act of the commissioner a violation of law?
Of course it is. The commissioner is an infra UN entity. We can file complaint to Security Council, General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other similar councils against this act and if proper legal actions are taken, the commissioner won't be able to do that. The records show that the Pakistani, Afghan or Iraqi exiles who have become refugees in various countries, none of them had been criminals.So we should file against the commissioner. Just like others who violate the law in international entities.
A major problem we face in dealing with the MEK legally is individual approaches towards the crime. In our judicial system and in the whole world, we are after filing against the individual persons who have committed terrorist acts but we rarely consider the organizations and their leaders that have contributed to these terrorist operations. As long such organizations are active, the threat remains. How can we solve this problem?
It is not different; we are working against both of them. The organization and the individuals. It is about authority. It is about who has been the head and who has been the conductor. There are two files. They are no contradictory.
Any international entity that tries to acquit the organization is actually violating law and this violation can be pursued. It is not like the commissioner says the final word.
For instance, the now Human Rights Council and former UN commission for Human Rights, condemned Iran for violation of Human Rights for 8 times. But when it was dissolved, the U.N itself announced tens of law violations by this commission. The U.N announced that commission for Human Rights had been corrupt. Some of its violations include: partiality with some specific countries, biased behavior, altering files and publishing fake documents that favored some and harmed others. Tens of these fabrications against Iran and Somalia were discovered. Australian natives complained this commission too. So the U.N. and the commissioner for Human Rights don't say the last word and their failures may be pursued.
How could the group's organized crimes be pursued legally?
There is this law in 5 or 6 countries including Iran that if a person commits an international crime such as mass murder or killing without trial, anyone can file against him and the international criminal living in that country must be tried. The person who is filing against the criminal doesn't have to be a member of the terror victim families. Anyone concerned with the crime may file to the court. For instance if a murderer or a drug seller lives in your neighborhood, you shouldn't wait till the family of one of his victims files against him. You should act yourself. In an international crime, everyone is concerned.
MEK's crimes are of the international type, too. Their terrorist acts are instances of international crime. That is why they have not been so successful in their agenda. If they were an oppressed group who had been forcibly expelled from the country and if they were not terrorists, they would have achieved a lot since now. Their problem is that they can't work anywhere. They discredit anyone who helps them. This is because they are criminals. In any international court, one can say this is their record and here are the crimes they have committed. It is a weak spot for anyone who supports them.
There are people in the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress or some former U.S. officials such as former deputy of defense minister, former CIA chief and former FBI chief who have acknowledged taking money from the Mujahedin e-khalq terrorist group. For instance one of them has said he had taken 200 thousand dollars but he deeply believes they should be supported. Could they be instances for sponsors of terrorism? Is it possible to file against them?
Any single person or any government that shelters a criminal is guilty. Maybe it is not the French government that shelters them. Any organizations or individuals who shelter them or support them are guilty.But I guess most of the people who read MEK's writings or support them don't know what they have done at all. But the intelligence services know them and sometimes they even use them. But again I think in Europe, they don't reveal their record and delude the people. They show themselves as oppressed people by showing some pictures.
Is it possible for us to file against individuals?
Yes. Of course it is.
There was a clash in Camp Ashraf between the Iraqi police and Camp Ashraf residents in April 2011 in which some MEK members were killed. Following that, the MEK filed against the Iraqi government in a Spanish court and one of the judges has summoned some Iraqi officials of the Dialah province. Is that legally valid?
The clash in which two or three are killed, is not an international crime since it has happened in the Iraqi soil. International crime is defined specifically. The Spanish judge should say what was his reasoning for recognizing the clash as an international crime. It is not an easy job to authenticate an international crime.
He has claimed they have committed crime against humanity; since they were unarmed people under the fourth Geneva Convention.
Since the judge has cited crime against humanity, and as you know the ruling would be considered political if he had not cited anything, the Iraqi government must prepare a bill and answer the citation.
First of all the MEK is not qualified to be under the Fourth Geneva Convention since they are an armed military group. Even now they are involved in military operations and their leader orders military commands yet. They were involved in the 8-year Iraq-Iran war and explosion of oil fields and right now they have ties with PJAK and other terrorist forces. It is so easy to contradict any citations bringing MEK under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The MEK would be included in one of the two 1977 conventions. I don't mean they are really included in those conventions, just that if it is supposed to be discussed, these conventions could be considered. However the states are accepting it.
It is mentioned there that the freedom fighting groups are included in international laws. Meaning if a freedom fighting group starts an armed struggle, it is not a terrorist. They have separated the freedom fighting activities from terrorism. But the question is: What is a freedom fighter group? A freedom fighter group must be recognized by some regional organizations and furthermore it must have occupied a part of their country and also to be able to provide the security and welfare for that occupied land. For example, suppose the MEK occupies two of our provinces, provides the security and welfare for the people living there and two regional organizations have them recognized, then the MEK will be under the 1977 Convention not the fourth Geneva Convention.
Such rulings can be challenged in so many ways. Even the Hague court's rulings are challenged by experts. The MEK is an instance for none of these conventions. They are instances of terrorists. They never fall under the category of freedom fighter groups. The MEK is a group that has conducted organized and authentic terrorist acts. The Organizations must be tried as a terrorist group. Any single person with any form of activity who has worked in the organization must be tried.
After the U.S. occupied Iraq, they repeated the same claims about the Fourth Geneva Convention. Later, an institute called ‘Rand' started a vast legal research and said it was wrong. The Rand Corporation clearly admitted the U.S. had been cheated and the defense minister shouldn't have done that and the MEK is a terrorist group.
The U.S. is still the occupier. It seems they have security contracts with Iraq. They have no right to interfere in the MEK issue. In order to analyze the U.S. behavior in the international system, we have to prove it is the occupier. They have tried to cover their occupation of Iraq by some security agreements. But before it is completely out of Iraq and since their military forces are still there and interfere in Iraq's domestic issues, it is still the occupier. It is still the U.S. that says the final word. This is called occupation. It is occupation of Iraq when the U.S. says the MEK must be protected and relocated to Camp Liberty.
It is none of your business how they move to Camp Liberty. Do you represent the U.N.? The Iraqi government must accept the ruling of the U.N and deal with the MEK. But now it is not like the U.N. is in charge. Why is the U.S. leading here? These are some legal challenges that could be considered.
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