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Iran: Special Rapporteur calls for effective accountability for deaths in recent protests

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Image: CC on Flickr/taymazvalley

This press release was originally released by the United Nations on 26 September.

A UN expert working at Brunel University London has called for the prompt establishment of an independent investigative mechanism into all human rights violations leading up to and since the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, who died in hospital after being arrested by the morality police.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Prof Javaid Rehman, said current investigations and domestic accountability channels had failed to meet the minimum standards of transparency, objectivity and impartiality.

“Chronic impunity and lack of redress for previous violations have culminated in today’s events as we see protests throughout the country calling for justice and accountability for Amini’s death but also demanding respect for fundamental socioeconomic and political rights and particularly freedom of expression,” the expert stressed.

“Today’s movement is ushered by different social classes in different regions with women and youth at the forefront. Amini’s death has directly affected women who have, for many years, been subjected to discriminatory laws especially those concerning dress codes,” he said.

“With the dress code laws being enforced through recent decrees, and implemented through the morality police, women are monitored, harassed and sometimes beaten on a daily basis for simply wearing their Hijab inappropriately. This is meant to instil an atmosphere of fear. We have seen, however, the courage of many women who defied security forces by cutting their hair in public and actively participating in protests.”

Rehman expressed alarm at the situation of children who have been disproportionately affected by the latest protests. “More than 27 children have been killed so far, some of them by live ammunition while others were beaten to death. It is clear evidence that excessive, lethal and indiscriminate use of force is the response by security forces.”

The Special Rapporteur also said he was extremely concerned at reports that schools have been raided and children arrested for their alleged participation in protests. “Some principals have also reportedly been arrested for not cooperating with security forces. This instils an atmosphere of fear in these schools with grave consequences on the well-being and education of these children.”

In his latest report, Rehman highlighted that arbitrary deprivation of life extended not only to excessive use of force but also to places of detention. “The latest events in the Evin prison, where eight persons were killed, demonstrate how vulnerable detainees are. I remain alarmed at the chronic ill treatment, beatings and torture that have been systematically documented in the Evin prison and other places of detention. Thousands also remain in detention without due process and continue to be kept in deplorable conditions thus violating their basic rights.”

The report also highlights an increase in executions overall including drug-related executions. “Until September of this year, reports indicate that more than 400 persons have been reportedly executed which represents the highest recorded rate in five years. More than 40 per cent of reported executions in 2021 were for drug-related offences. Between 1 January and 30 June 2022 over 80 individuals were executed for drug related offence. We have also seen a strong correlation between protests and executions which is disconcerting in the current context of protests.

“I am also concerned at the arrest, harassment and detention of family members of victims who demand justice for their loved ones,” Rehman said.

Prof Javaid Rehman was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2018. He is a Professor of International Human Rights Law and Muslim Constitutionalism at Brunel University London. Mr Rehman teaches human rights law and Islamic law and continues to publish extensively in the subjects of international human rights law, Islamic law and constitutional practices of Muslim majority States.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Iran

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