Iran must end its continuing crackdown on peaceful protesters and halt the wave of executions, mass arrests and detentions since the death in custody of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini last September. It must respect, fulfil, and protect the rights of all people in Iran, especially women and girls, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran said today.
In its first Oral Update to the Human Rights Council, the Fact-Finding Mission said the overall human rights situation in the country risks deteriorating further if no response is made to the concerns raised to date of alleged human rights violations, and if new legislation, which proposes harsher punishments on women and girls found in breach of forced veiling provisions, becomes law.
Jina Mahsa’s death in custody in September, following her arrest and detention by morality police for alleged non-observance of Iran’s law on forced veiling, sparked demonstrations nationwide.
“Ten months on, Jina Mahsa’s family’s right to truth and justice remain unfulfilled, and we are concerned that domestic investigations have fallen short of international human rights norms and standards, including the requirements of promptness, independence, and transparency,” said Sara Hossain, the Chair of the FFM.
The Fact-Finding Mission highlighted several key areas of concerns. It drew attention to specific risks of further deterioration of the human rights of those involved in the protests, including lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders, and in particular women and girls.
Allegations of human rights violations in connection with the protests are continuing to be heard, received, and investigated by the FFM.
The Government of Iran announced that 22,000 people have been pardoned in connection with the protests. Our understanding is that these individuals were reportedly compelled to “express remorse” thus to effectively admit guilt while also making a pledge not to commit "similar crimes" in the future, in violation of their human rights including their right to freedom of association.
Even today, ten months after the events, no official data is publicly available regarding those arrested, detained, charged or convicted in connection with the protests. But reports continue to emerge of arrests and detentions of protesters, including women and girls refusing to comply with the country’s forced veiling law, and of harassment of their family members.
“We are concerned by the continuous detention of human rights defenders and lawyers defending the protestors and at least 17 journalists, including Nilufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who first reported on Jina Mahsa’s death in custody”, said Viviana Krsticevic, Member of the FFM.
According to reports received by the Fact-Finding Mission, at least 26 individuals have been sentenced to death in connection with the protests since November 2022, while dozens more have been charged with or face offences carrying the death penalty. At least seven men have been executed following hasty proceedings, amid serious allegations of rights violations, including of confessions extracted under torture.
Harsh punishments continue to be meted out to those involved in the protests, including for exercising rights protected under international human rights law. They are being imposed following legal proceedings that lack transparency and fail to meet basic fair trial and due process guarantees under international human rights law.
“We are particularly concerned about the many reports of harassment of family members seeking justice for their loved ones, including children, who were killed during the protests”, Hossain said.
Two months after the protests began, a series of alleged poisonings in dozens of schools across 28 provinces were reported. The FFM is investigating whether these alleged poisonings have been orchestrated as a means to punish or deter girls for their involvement in the protests.
Two draft bills have been introduced since the protests and now await consideration, including before the Majles, or Iranian Parliament. If passed, they would impose harsher punishments on women and girls found in breach of forced veiling provisions and expose them to increased risks of violence, harassment and arbitrary detention.
Women and girl students have been reportedly suspended from their studies or banned from dormitories for their defiance of the compulsory veiling law, while businesses have been fined or closed for non-enforcement. The Fact-Finding Mission is concerned about the reported use of facial recognition technologies to identify and arrest women and girls failing to comply with forced veiling and to identify protestors.
The Fact-Finding Mission has sent seven letters to the Government of Iran, including repeated requests for a visit to Iran to gather information critical to its investigations. These have so far gone unanswered. The FFM has just yesterday met with the Iranian President’s of the recently appointed “Special Committee to investigate the 2022 unrests”.
“Iran has an obligation to protect the rights of all people in the country and to hold accountable the individuals who are responsible for alleged rights violations related to the protests and address the root causes of these violations,” said Shaheen Sardar Ali, Member of the FFM.
“The people of Iran, including women and girls, have fundamental rights to equality, truth, justice, accountability and reparations that must be upheld. We call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully cooperate with our mandate and to ensure that all those affected have unhindered and safe access to providing evidence,” Hossain said.
The Fact-Finding Mission will present a comprehensive report on its findings to the Human Rights Council during an interactive dialogue at its 55th session in March 2024.
Background: The UN Human Rights Council mandated the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran on 24 November 2022 to investigate alleged human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran related to the protests that began there on 16 September 2022, especially with respect to women and children. On 20 December 2022, the President of the Human Rights Council announced the appointment of Sara Hossain (Bangladesh), Shaheen Sardar Ali (Pakistan) and Viviana Krsticevic (Argentina) to serve as the three independent members of the Mission and appointed Ms. Sara Hossain as its Chair.
Source: UN Human Rights