Farewell to Frank Dutton – Justice Warrior and Truth Seeker.

Farewell to Frank Dutton – Justice Warrior and Truth Seeker.

On 19 January 2022, the legendary investigator and justice warrior Frank Kennan Dutton passed away at the age of 72.

I was introduced to Frank  by Howard Varney while we were all working on seeking justice for anti-apartheid activist Nokuthula Simelane who was tortured and murdered by apartheid era police. Naturally, Frank’s reputation preceded him and I had heard awe-inspiring things about him but I was immediately struck by his humility, kindness and truly down to earth nature. Frank had a wonderful ability to graciously dispense his wisdom whilst affirming and acknowledging your own contributions to the case. Despite his busy schedule Frank always promptly responded to my emails and returned my calls, elegantly making one feel as if your call was just as important as all the other critical and time-sensitive things he had to attend to. 

As beautifully penned in Howard Varney’s tribute to Frank, Frank had an illustrious career and made a meaningful impact in South Africa and abroad in the realm of accountability for egregious crimes. He joined the South African Police in1966 and by 1971 he was a detective. In that role he uncovered the truth in cases of state sponsored violence and murder. Frank continued to shine the light on crimes in South Africa including serving as the director general in the department of justice and establishing and leading a specialised investigative unit known as the Scorpions or the Directorate of Special Operations.

The international community will also remember Frank for his contributions outside of South Africa. For example, in 1996 Frank was seconded to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) where he was part of efforts to investigate core international crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia. He went on to lead the Sarajevo ICTY office and in 1998 he facilitated field investigations in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia. In 1999, Frank’s field investigations into the forced eviction of Kosovo Albanians from Kosovo were instrumental in the provision of evidence that led to indictments against the likes of Milosevic.

Frank’s other international work includes investigations pertaining to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Seychelles, and Brazil to name but a few. For more details about the impressive man and professional Frank was, I encourage you to read Howard’s tribute. 

Frank’s investigative prowess, commitment to justice and belief in accountability broke new ground in South Africa and beyond. Working with him was an honour, a pleasure and an experience I will always treasure. Rest in peace Frank.

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International Criminal Law
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