Iran: People’s tribunal on deadly protest crackdowns must serve as wake-up call for all UN member states
An international “people’s tribunal” which began hearings in London yesterday on the Iranian authorities’ killing and wounding of thousands of protesters and bystanders during nationwide protests in November 2019 is a powerful initiative against impunity and must serve as a wake-up call for all UN member states, Amnesty International said today.
During the four-day hearing, the International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities of November 2019 will hear evidence from dozens of witnesses, including protesters, victims’ relatives, torture survivors, healthcare workers and former security officials. Several expert witnesses will also testify before the tribunal, which will be presided over by prominent lawyers and judges. Among the expert witnesses is Amnesty International’s Researcher on Iran, Raha Bahreini, scheduled to appear before the tribunal today at 10am (GMT).
“Despite repeated calls by Amnesty International and others, UN member states have yet to mandate an independent international inquiry into crimes under international law and serious human rights violations committed by the Iranian authorities during and in the aftermath of the November 2019 protests, including unlawful killings of protesters and bystanders, mass arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances and torture,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“There must be an end to this systematic impunity afforded to perpetrators of this state-sanctioned crackdown. The hearings at the International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities of November 2019 are crucial for ensuring that these atrocities do not fade into memory. Crucially, the tribunal must spur UN member states into action, both at the current session of the UN General Assembly and the next session of the UN Human Rights Council, to pave the way for the accountability that is so desperately needed.”
Amnesty International is urging all UN member states to pay close attention to the testimonies and other evidence presented at the tribunal, and to fulfilltheir responsibility to tackle impunity by establishing through the UN Human Rights Council an independent mechanism to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of serious crimes under international law committed in Iran to facilitate fair criminal proceedings.
Remembering the victims of Iran’s killing spree
Since May 2020, when Amnesty International released the details of 304 men, women and children killed by Iran’s security forces during the protests, which erupted following sudden overnight hikes in fuel prices, the organization has recorded the names and details of 24 more victims, bringing the total number of recorded deaths to 323*.
However, the organization believes the real number of deaths is higher, with many Iranians fearing reprisals from the authorities if they were to speak out or go public with information about those killed in the crackdown.
Today, Amnesty International is releasing an updated list of the names and details of protesters and bystanders identified as being killed during the protests of November 2019.
The organization is aware of scores of additional names reported online yet currently lacks sufficient verified details to include them in its list. The organization has published a list of these reported names in Persian on its Telegram, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and invites anyone with further information about them or other victims hitherto unknown to contact the organization.
“By uncovering and recording the names and details of those killed, we seek not only to reveal the horrifying scale of the Iranian authorities’ killing spree in November 2019, but also to honour the memory of every single human life lost in the protests,” said Heba Morayef.
“We hope the weight of evidence presented at the tribunal will compel states to recognize that when national avenues for justice are completely absent, it is their duty to step in and act through institutions like the UN Human Rights Council to mandate an impartial and independent investigation to ensure truth, justice and reparation for these heinous crimes.”
The hearings of the International People’s Tribunal on Iran’s Atrocities of November 2019 will run from 10-14 November 2021 at Church House, Westminster, London and are open to the public. They can also be watched live. The panel is due to deliver its judgement in early 2022.
Protests erupted in Iran on 15 November 2019 following a sudden government announcement about a fuel price hike. The focus of the protests quickly expanded from concerns about the price of fuel to broader grievances against the political establishment, including demands for constitutional reforms and an end to the Islamic Republic system.
During and following the protests between 15 and 19 November 2019, in addition to killing hundreds of protesters and bystanders including children, Iranian authorities arbitrarily detained thousands of protesters and bystanders and subjected hundreds to enforced disappearance, torture or other ill-treatment, and flagrantly unfair trials. The authorities carried out their lethal crackdown amid a near-total countrywide internet shutdown, which they deliberately imposed between 16 and 27 November 2019 to hide the true scale of the crimes and human rights violations they committed.
The Iranian authorities continue to cover up the death toll of people killed during the November 2019 protests. They announced the deaths of 230 people in June 2020, but blamed unknown attackers for most killings and praised security and intelligence forces for their role in suppressing the protests.
Amnesty International has found the security forces’ use of lethal force against the vast majority of those killed was unlawful.
*The total figure of recorded deaths currently stands at 323 as five entries previously recorded in the list issued in May 2020 have been removed. These entries concerned deaths in the cities of Shahriar, Malard and Kermanshah which were confirmed, but the identities of the victims remained unknown. To prevent double-counting, these entries have been replaced with five of the 24 newly identified victims.
Iran: People’s tribunal on deadly protest crackdowns must serve as wake-up call for all UN member states
ran: Ebrahim Raisi must be investigated for crimes against humanity
Responding to today’s announcement declaring Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s next president, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said:
“That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran. In 2018, our organization documented how Ebrahim Raisi had been a member of the ‘death commission’ which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988. The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity.
‘As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiralling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained. Under his watch, the judiciary has also granted blanket impunity to government officials and security forces responsible for unlawfully killing hundreds of men, women and children and subjecting thousands of protesters to mass arrests and at least hundreds to enforced disappearance, and torture and other ill-treatment during and in the aftermath of the nationwide protests of November 2019.
“Ebrahim Raisi’s rise to the presidency follows an electoral process that was conducted in a highly repressive environment and barred women, members of religious minorities and candidates with opposing views from running for office.
“We continue to call for Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated for his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law, including by states that exercise universal jurisdiction.
“It is now more urgent than ever for member states of the UN Human Rights Council to take concrete steps to address the crisis of systematic impunity in Iran including by establishing an impartial mechanism to collect and analyse evidence of the most serious crimes under international law committed in Iran to facilitate fair and independent criminal proceedings.”
Recap of Atrocities in Iran During August 2021
By SIA RAJABI
The Iran Human Rights Monitor (Iran HRM) recently published their overview of the events that they reported on during August, heading their report with the leaked footage of Iran’s Evin Prison that went viral on social media.
The hacked security camera footage, published online by the hacker group ‘Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice), showed guards beating prisoners and suicide attempts, as well as scenes of the terrible conditions that inmates have to live in and endure.
In a tweet from the head of Iran’s Prisons, Mohammad Mehdi Haj Mohammadi, he accepted responsibility for the prison conditions and asked for ‘forgiveness’ from God, showcasing a rare admission of the abuses caused by authorities.
Iran HRM said, “In July, at least 26 death sentences were carried out in Iranian prisons. At least 15 executions were carried out for drug-related offenses and 10 were carried out for murder. The details and reason for the execution of another prisoner are not known.”
Amnesty International raised concern over the condition and treatment of political prisoner, Maryam Akbari Monfared. They said that she was held in inhumane conditions in Semnan prison and ‘ill-treated for seeking truth and justice’ for her siblings who were forcibly disappeared and executed in 1988.
Iran HRM said, “The 104th branch of a criminal court in western Iran sentenced a media activist to prison and lashes for “defaming” local officials. The Sanandaj court sentenced Morteza Haghbayan to two years and six months of prison, 90 lashes, and a 10 million toman fine (around 390 USD) for defaming officials in Kurdistan Province and publishing government documents.”
During protests in Naqadeh on August 7, 27-year-old Mohammad Alizadeh was fatally shot by a man who believed him to be affiliated with security forces as he walked behind a group of riot police. Not realizing the extent of his injuries, he refused to seek medical attention for fear of being arrested but he soon fell unconscious and ultimately succumbed to internal bleeding.
Religious persecution was another feature during August. Ali Ahmadi, an Iranian Bahai from Qaemshahr was summoned to serve his prison sentence for following the banned faith. As he suffers from diabetes, heart problems, and thyroid illnesses, they transferred him to the COVID-19 infected prisons which is a severe threat to his health.
Iran HRM said, “Three Christian converts, Milad Goudarzi, Ameen Khaki, and Alireza Nourmohammadi, were sentenced to prison in Karaj near Tehran on August 22.”
The three men were charged with “spreading propaganda and deviant educational activities opposing Islam” and given a fine of 40 million tomans (about $1,412) each. They were sentenced to five years of prison each, which was later reduced to three years.
In terms of civilian deaths at the hand of the regime’s military and armed forces, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), at least six Iranians were killed in August, and a further nine were injured during indiscriminate shootings by security forces.
As the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus ravages through cities across Iran, the daily death toll reached 390 in Tehran as of September 1.
Iran HRM said, “State-run media report of hospitals and ICUs brimming with COVID-19 infected patients. At the same time, cemeteries are filled, and provinces report not having enough room to bury the bodies.”
Iranians are angry and blaming Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the thousands of deaths in Iran due to the virus, many of whom could have been saved if Khamenei and the regime had not banned the U.S. and UK made vaccines at the beginning of the year.
Iran: Worrying Increase of Executions
By JUBIN KATIRAIE
According to the Iran Human Rights Monitor (Iran HRM), the number of executions in Iran has increased since the presidential election in June. With the 52 executions that took place in July taking the total number for 2021 so far up to 192, it shows just how the human rights situation in Iran is worsening.
Iran HRM said, “Of these, only five have been reported by the state media. The actual number of executions in Iran is much higher. The Iranian regime carries out most executions in secret and out of the public eye. No witnesses are present at the time of execution but those who carry them out.”
One of the last countries in the world that, to this day, continues to routinely use the death penalty for crimes committed by children under the age of 18, Iran is in complete violation of its commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
One example of this is the case of Ebrahim Shahbakhsh, a 23-year-old prisoner from Baluchi. He was executed in July by Iranian authorities, six years after his arrest on drug-related charges at the age of 17.
Of the 52 executions that took place in July, 18 were in regards to drug-related offenses, 30 were carried out for murder charges, and 2 for rape. It is unknown if the details or reason behind the final 2 executions.
Iran HRM said, “Ebrahim Raisi has become president of Iran, even though his resume is filled with crimes against the Iranian people and humanity. Shortly after his ascension was announced, Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnès Callamard criticized Raisi’s rise to the second-most powerful position in the country.”
Callamard stated that the fact that Ebrahim Raisi has been able to ascend to a presidential role instead of undergoing any investigation into his crimes against humanity over the past 4 decades is a grim reminder that impunity continues to reign supreme in Iran.
Iran HRM said, “According to Amnesty International Iran is the most prolific user of capital punishment in the region and the second worldwide after China.”
Even though government officials have admitted that the executions of inmates who have been convicted for drug-related charges are ineffective in the battle to combat drug smuggling, the Iranian government is continuing to implement death sentences for these prisoners. In fact, the executions are bringing about the reverse effect, with drug smuggling still continuing to take place.
Iran HRM is now calling upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Council, and other human rights institutions around the world to take urgent action in order to save the lives of the Iranian prisoners who are currently on death row.
Iran HRM said, “The Iranian regime’s dossier of human rights violations must be referred to the UN Security Council. The leaders and officials of the clerical regime in Iran must face justice for four decades of committing crimes against humanity.”
Iran expels Italian nun who has spent her life for the poor of the country
Seventy-five-year-old Sister Giuseppina Berti is denied a visa renewal.
Seventy-five-year-old Sister Giuseppina Berti, who has worked for 26 years in the leprosarium of Tabriz and now lives in Isfahan in the house of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, will have to leave Iran in the coming days. In fact, her visa has not been renewed and she has received a travel order. Her departure will make it difficult for her fellow nun, Sister Fabiola Weiss, a 77-year years old Austrian, who has dedicated 38 years to the poor and the sick in the leprosy hospital, and whose residence permit has been renewed for another year
The two religious nuns, who have dedicated their lives to the country’s sick without distinction of religious or ethnic affiliation, are forced to abandon the Congregation’s house, built in 1937. In Isfahan, the Daughters of Charity had dedicated themselves for years to the education and training of young people. Their commitment to hundreds of Polish children, refugees and war orphans, who arrived in Iran in the spring of 1942, should also be remembered. In fact, the sisters ran a large school in the city, which was confiscated after the 1979 revolution. In recent years, the two sisters did not carry out any outside activities, to avoid being accused of proselytizing.
The house of the sisters is currently the only reality of the Latin Catholic Church in Isfahan and their chapel, built in 1939, serves as the parish of the “Powerful Virgin”, which is occasionally made available to visitors for the celebration of Mass
This is the current reality of the Catholic Church in Iran: two Assyrian-Chaldean archdioceses of Tehran-Ahwaz and Urmia-Salmas, which have one bishop and four priests (in the summer of 2019, the patriarchal administrator of Tehran of the Chaldeans, Ramzi Garmou, was also denied a visa renewal and could no longer return to the country); an Armenian diocese in which there is only a bishop and the Latin archdiocese which currently has no priest and is awaiting the arrival of its newly appointed pastor, Archbishop Dominique Mathieu. As for the religious presence, the Daughters of Charity operate in the country, with three sisters in Tehran and two sisters in Isfahan. There are also two consecrated laywomen. The faithful number about 3,000.
With the departure of the nuns, the presence of the Latin Catholic Church in Isfahan would be permanently lost. In 2016, the house of the Lazarist Fathers in the city of Isfahan had also been confiscated. It is to be hoped that the Iranian authorities will retrace their steps and reconsider their decision, allowing the sisters to continue in the country that they have loved so much and served with sacrifice and dedication.
Eight Executions in Iran Within Two Days
In only two days, May 24 and 25, authorities in Iran hanged at least eight inmates in the prisons of Isfahan and Birjand, human rights defender association No to Prison – No to Execution reported.
Two Executions in Isfahan Prison
At dawn on Monday, May 24, authorities quietly executed two prisoners on drug-related charges in Isfahan Central Prison. Activists identified them Kianoush Ali-Moradi, 50, and Ahmad-Ali Qodrati. Mr. Ali-Moradi was married and had several children.
The official media have yet to report these executions as of this report. The Iranian government continues to implement death sentences against inmates who have been convicted on drug-related charges while relevant officials have frankly admitted that the executions are fruitless. They say that not only are these executions ineffective in combatting drug smuggling, but they have brought reverse effect.
Furthermore, it was supposed that the issuance of death penalty be limited based on new reforms in the Islamic Republic’s constitution applied in 2017. Judges were expected to consider one degree alleviation in drug-related cases. Nevertheless, authorities still hang inmates for insignificant charges.
Execution of Six Baluch Inmates
At dawn on Tuesday, May 25, Iranian authorities mass executed six Baluch inmates in Birjand Prison on drug-related charges. They were from Zabol city, in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan. However, the judiciary had exiled them to Birjand Prison, in the northeastern province of South Khorasan.
Activists identified one executed inmate as 34-year-old Javad Nakhaei, the son of Ali. There is no further information about the other executed persons. Their families had reportedly been banned from a last visit with their loved ones. These executions were also implemented silently, and state media avoided covering the news.
However, an eight-second video obtained from a morgue shows the lifeless bodies of the executed inmates. Meanwhile, at dawn on May 19, authorities had hanged two other Baluch inmates identified Younes Totazehi and Abdollah Totazehi based on similar allegations in the same prison.
In this respect, since the beginning of the new Persian year on March 21, at least 40 prisoners have been hanged in Iran. Human rights organization reported most of executions are carried out in secret meaning that the actual number of executions is far higher.
According to Amnesty International’s 2020 report, rights organization and activists registered the implementation of at least 283 death sentences across the globe, aside from China. Out of this number, at least 246 cases were implemented in Iran indicating that well over half of worldwide executions were applied in the country. The Islamic Republic is also the record-holder of executions per capita, based on official stats.
In such circumstances, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi is running in the Presidential election scheduled for June 18, which forecasts much more human rights violations to come in Iran.
Death penalty 2020: Middle East and North Africa dominates list of world’s top executioners
21 April 2021, 01:01 UTC
Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia accounted for 88% of known global executions in 2020
Egypt tripled number of yearly executions
Iran accounted for 56% of all recorded executions in MENA
85% drop in executions recorded in Saudi Arabia
Oman and Qatar resumed executions for first time in several years
Lowest number of executions globally in a decade for third consecutive year
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ruthlessly persisted with executions, defying the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, making them some of the world’s most prolific executioners of 2020, said Amnesty International in its annual global death penalty report today.
The report reveals that four out of five of the world’s top executioners are MENA states. Iran (246+), Egypt (107+), Iraq (45+) and Saudi Arabia (27) accounted for 88% of all reported executions carried out worldwide in 2020, excluding China, which is believed to execute thousands each year, making it the world’s most frequent executioner.
“Throughout 2020 countries from the Middle East and North Africa displayed a ruthless and chilling persistence in carrying out plans to put people to death even during a year when most of the world was focussed on protecting people’s lives from a deadly virus,” said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“Despite a clear global trend showing most countries moving away from use of the death penalty, MENA states make up the majority of an increasingly isolated group of entrenched executioners out of step with the rest of the world, fuelling the vast majority of executions worldwide.”
Despite a clear global trend showing most countries moving away from use of the death penalty, MENA states make up the majority of an increasingly isolated group of entrenched executioners out of step with the rest of the world, fuelling the vast majority of executions worldwide
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International
Decline in executions overshadowed by setbacks
Overall, the number of executions recorded in MENA dropped by 25% to their lowest levels in a decade falling from 579 in 2019 to 437 in 2020. This decrease was largely driven by a staggering 85% drop in recorded executions in Saudi Arabia and a reduction in executions by more than half in Iraq.
However, this drop was overshadowed by a significant spike in recorded executions in Egypt -with a more than threefold rise from 32 in 2019 to 107 in 2020 overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s third most frequent executioner last year. During a spike in executions in October and November, Egyptian authorities executed at least 57 people –nearly double the number of people known to have been put to death in Egypt in the whole of 2019.
Iran which carried out at least 246 executions retained its place as the top executing country in MENA and the second worldwide after China.
In an alarming step backwards, Qatar carried out its first execution in 20 years putting to death Anil Chaudhary, a Nepali national and Oman executed four people for the first time since 2015.
Excluding China, where the death penalty is a state secret, 437 out of the 483 total recorded executions worldwide – 90%- took place in the MENA region.
MENA was also the only region known to have carried out the execution of women in 2020 putting to death a total of 16: Egypt (4), Iran (9), Oman (1) and Saudi Arabia (2).
“While the overall number of executions within MENA has fallen compared to previous years, it still vastly outnumbers the quantity of executions recorded in the rest of the world, excluding China,” said Heba Morayef.
“Instead of consolidating their commitment to judicial executions MENA governments should establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to ending use of the death penalty completely.”
Executions after unfair trials and other violations of international law
The rate of executions is even more disturbing given that the death penalty in MENA is regularly applied after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards. People in MENA continued to be executed or sentenced to death in 2020 for acts that should not be criminalized and other offences that do not meet the threshold of most serious crimes, meaning intentional killings, as required by international law.
At least 23 of the 107 people executed in Egypt were sentenced to death in cases relating to political violence, after grossly unfair trials marred by forced “confessions” and other serious human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearances. Executions in Egypt shot up drastically following a security incident involving death row prisoners in the notorious al-Aqrab prison in September.
In Iran at least three people were executed for crimes that occurred when they were below the age of 18, in violation of international human rights law which prohibits the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders.
Although recorded executions in Iran- which alone carried out more than half of all recorded executions in MENA – continued to be lower than previous years, following 2017 amendments to an anti-narcotics law reducing the penalties for drug-related offences, 23 people were executed for drug-related offences in 2020. Authorities have also increasingly used the death penalty as a weapon of political repression against dissidents, protesters and members of ethnic minority groups, in violation of international law. In December, following conviction in a grossly unfair trial, dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam was executed in connection with his anti-establishment social media news channel.
Military courts sentenced civilians to death in Libya following grossly unfair trials.
Use of the death penalty is abhorrent in all circumstance and its prolific use in MENA is alarming because of the frequency with which it is applied after flawed convictions based on confessions extracted through torture or other ill-treatment
Heba Morayef, Amnesty International
“Use of the death penalty is abhorrent in all circumstance and its prolific use in MENA is alarming because of the frequency with which it is applied after flawed convictions based on confessions extracted through torture or other ill-treatment,” said Heba Morayef.
Drop in executions in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia executions sharply declined from 184 in 2019 to 27 in 2020 – the lowest number recorded since 2010. The Saudi Arabia Human Rights Commission attributed the drop in part to “a moratorium on the death penalty in drug-related offences.” However, no moratorium had been officially announced in 2020.
The reduction may also have been due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a desire to avoid international criticism from overshadowing Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G-20 and its hosting of the G-20 summit. For the five months prior to the G-20 summit from the end of July to November, no executions were carried out in Saudi Arabia. However, executions resumed soon after the country’s G-20 presidency ended on 30 November.
Global executions reach lowest number in a decade
Globally, at least 483 people were known to have been executed in 2020 (excluding countries where death penalty data is classified as a state secret, or where limited information is available – China, North Korea, Syria and Viet Nam). This is the lowest number of executions recorded by Amnesty International in at least a decade. It represents a decrease of 26% compared to 2019, and 70% from the high-peak of 1,634 executions in 2015.
According to the report, the fall in executions was down to a reduction in executions in some retentionist countries and, to a lesser extent, some hiatuses in executions that occurred in response to the pandemic.
The number of death sentences known to have been imposed worldwide (at least 1,477) was also down by 36% compared to 2019.
As of April 2021, 108 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 144 countries have abolished it in law or practice.
For more information about global executions in 2020 please see:
Death penalty 2020: Despite Covid-19, some countries ruthlessly pursued death sentences and executions
EU designates 8 Iranian senior officials and 3 prisons over human rights abuses
The EU has adopted Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/584 and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2021/585, which designate 8 officials and 3 prisons under the EU’s sanctions regime concerning serious human rights abuses in Iran. They have been listed over their roles in the “violent response” to demonstrations held in Iran in November 2019, which caused the deaths, injury to, or unjust detention of unarmed protesters and civilians. See press release.
The officials are: Gholamreza Soleimani (Head of the Basij Organisation of the IRGC); Hossein Salami (Commander in Chief of the IRHC); Hassan Karami (Commander of the Special Units of the Iranian police force); Mohammad Pakpour (Commander in Chief of the IRGC Ground Forces); Hossein Ashtari (Commander in Chief of the Iranian police force); Gholamreza Ziaei (Former Director of Evin Prison); Hassan Shahvarpour (IRGC Commander of Khuzestan Province); and Leyla Vaseghi (Governor of Shahr-e Qods). All are US-listed with the exception of Mr Karami and Ms Vaseghi.
Evin Prison, Fashafouyeh Prison and Rajaee Shahr Prison have also been listed.
In addition, the EU has renewed the Iran human rights sanctions regime for 1 year until 13 April 2022. These measures impose an asset freeze and travel ban on a total of 89 people and 4 entities, and prohibit exports to Iran of equipment which might be used for internal repression or to monitor telecommunications.
Exclusive: EU set to sanction more Iranians for rights abuses, first since 2013, diplomats say
BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) – The European Union is set to agree to sanction several Iranian individuals on Wednesday for human rights abuses, the first such measures since 2013, three EU diplomats said.
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, before the beginning of a board of governors meeting, in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
EU envoys are expected to agree to impose travel bans and asset freezes on the individuals, the diplomats said, and their names would be published next week, when the sanctions take effect. They gave no further details.
The European Union declined to comment.
Like the United States, the European Union has an array of sanctions over human rights since 2011 on more than 80 Iranian individuals which has been renewed annually every April. Those will also be renewed on Wednesday, the three diplomats said.
Asked why the latest measures were being taken now, one of the diplomats said the EU was seeking to take a tougher stance to uphold human rights. This month, the EU sanctioned 11 people from countries including China, North Korea, Libya and Russia.
“Those responsible for serious rights violations must know there are consequences,” an EU diplomat said.
The United Nations has regularly complained that Iran arrests political opponents in a clampdown on freedom of expression. On March 9, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, presented a report documenting Iran’s high death penalty rate, executions of juveniles, the use torture to coerce confessions and the lawful marriage of girls as young as 10 years old.
Iran has repeatedly rejected accusations by the West of human rights abuses. Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Despite the human rights situation, no Iranians have been added to that list since 2013, however, as the bloc has shied away from angering Iran in the hope of safeguarding a nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers in 2015.
The three diplomats said the sanctions were not linked to efforts to revive the nuclear deal, which the United States pulled out of but now seeks to re-join. That deal made it harder for Iran to amass the fissile material needed for a nuclear bomb – a goal it has long denied – in return for sanctions relief.
The EU revoked its broader set of economic and financial sanctions on Iran in 2016 after the nuclear deal was struck, although it did impose sanctions on an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff in 2019, alleging Tehran plotted attacks in Denmark, France and the Netherlands. Iran rejects the accusations.
In a rare move last September, France, Britain and Germany summoned Iran’s envoys to admonish them over their country’s human rights record in what France’s foreign ministry said were “serious and constant violations.”
The three European countries had pushed for sanctions over Iran’s missile programme and its involvement in Syria in March 2018, when Britain was still a member of the EU.
But other EU governments feared it could also upset European firms’ chances of winning lucrative contracts in Iran as the country tried to open up after decades of isolation.
Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi; Writing by Robin Emmott, Editing by William Maclean
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Iran: Women and girls treated as second class citizens, reforms urgently needed, says UN expert
GENEVA (8 March 2021) – Women and girls continue to be treated as second class citizens in Iran, a UN expert says in a report to the Human Rights Council, citing domestic violence, thousands of marriages of girls aged between 10 and 14 each year and continuing entrenched discrimination in law and practice.
“One of the most concerning issues in Iran today when it comes to the rights of women and girls is the issue of child marriage,” Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, said in the report to be presented to the 47-member body on 9 March.
“The Government and other leaders in the country must raise the marriage age now and introduce further policies and programmes to reduce this practice in the country.”
By law, a girl as young as 13 years can marry, while girls even younger can legally marry with judicial and paternal consent. In the first half of the current Iranian calendar year, over 16,000 girls aged between 10 and 14 years have married, according to official Government figures.
“The current legal marriage age is simply unacceptable. It is clear that child marriage is harmful for the development and well-being of girls, including in terms of education, employment and to live free of violence. While I note previous attempts to amend the law, pressure must now be brought to raise the marriage age, in line with Iran’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Rehman said.
The report also highlighted serious concerns regarding domestic violence. Some positive steps are noted, such as a law against acid attacks, but the Special Rapporteur pressed the Iranian Government to do more.
“Existing protections against violence are insufficient to comprehensively safeguard women and children. I acknowledge that the anti-violence bill before parliament provides some positive measures, but as my report details, it does not go far enough. I urge for further improvements to the bill before it is enforced and to extend support services for women and children who experience domestic violence,” Rehman said.
While finding some progress, such as in education and citizenship rights, his report details how gender discrimination permeates almost all areas of law and practice, treating Iranian women as second-class citizens. He has provided the Government with recommendations to ameliorate these issues, including ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Iran is one of only a few states not to have signed the Convention.
“Blatant discrimination exists in Iranian law and practice that must change. In several areas of their lives, including in marriage, divorce, employment, and culture, Iranian women are either restricted or need permission from their husbands or paternal guardians, depriving them of their autonomy and human dignity. These constructs are completely unacceptable and must be reformed now,” he said.
The Special Rapporteur also called on the Government to implement concrete measures to end the culture of impunity for serious human rights violations and to hold those responsible for violations accountable. Rehman specifically raised the Government’s failure to properly investigate the security forces’ bloody crackdown on the November 2019 protests, which killed over 300 people. He remained concerned at the high death penalty rate, especially the execution of child offenders, and those executed in relation to protests and freedom of expression, such as Navid Afkari and Ruhollah Zam, as well as reports of the widespread use of torture to extract forced confessions.
Rehman raised his concerns that sanctions have hindered Iran’s response to COVID-19. He echoed calls by the Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights for States to at least ease sanctions in support of the fight against COVID-19. However, the Rapporteur said that the Government’s opaque and inadequate Coronavirus response had resulted in excess deaths, including those of medical professionals working without sufficient protective equipment.
He also underlined deep concerns that arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, journalists, labour rights activists, dual and foreign nationals and lawyers continue to be imprisoned despite the COVID-19 risks. State targeting of these individuals for exercising fundamental freedoms also continues, including Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshavarz, who are imprisoned for protesting against compulsory veiling laws on International Women’s Day 2019, and other women human rights defenders, like Nasrin Sotoudeh, Atena Daemi and Golrokh Iraee.
The Special Rapporteur repeated his dismay at human rights violations perpetrated against Iran’s religious, ethnic and sexual minorities. Since his report was finalized, further disturbing incidents against Iran’s minorities have emerged, including more than 20 executions of Baluch death row prisoners, the suspicious death of imprisoned Gonabadi Dervish follower Behnam Mahjoubi, excessive use of force against protesters in Sistan and Baluchistan province, the detention of over 100 Kurdish activists, and house raids and land confiscations against members of the Baha’i faith.
The Special Rapporteur is scheduled to present his report to the Human Rights Council in an interactive dialogue on 9 March 2021. The interactive dialogue will be live on UN Web TV. An unofficial Farsi translation of the report is also available.
Javaid Rehman 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. Several of his published works have been translated into various languages. As a human rights lawyer, Mr Rehman has also provided legal opinions in various high-profile cases in a number of jurisdictions.
The Special Rapporteurs 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.