March 24, 2023

UN Special Rapporteur denounces Islamic Republic’s crackdown as a “crime against humanity”

According to Javaid Rehman, the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s violations of the fundamental rights of its citizens can be viewed as a “crime against humanity.” Mr. Rehman’s new report, issued to the United Nations Human Rights Council, claims the crackdown on nationwide protests since September was “part of an apparent policy instigated at the highest level of the State to crush the protests at all costs. The scale and gravity of these violations point to the possible commission of international crimes, notably the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual violence, and persecution.”

In this report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, 20 March, Rehman announced that the Islamic Republic of Iran killed 71 children in suppressing the protests of the last six months. Rehman also announced that he had evidence that Mahsa Amini, whose killing sparked the nationwide protests, was beaten by government agents prior to her death. Iranian officials had attempted to claim that her collapse and death was coincidental, and not a result of abuse inflicted on her by morality police following her arrest.

Rehman’s 20-page report was provided to the 47 member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. During the protests, Rehman and his team documented the arrests, trials in Islamic Republic courts, torture, and other abuses against detainees and prisoners, as well as the execution of protesters in Iran as cases of human rights violations.

Mr. Rehman estimates that at least 527 people died during the protests before the end of 2022, with some of the victims dying after being severely beaten by security officers. Rehman documented the statements of Iranian doctors and concluded that many women and girls were deliberately shot in the breasts and genitals. According to the evidence given by those children who were released from detention, many were sexually abused, threatened with rape, tortured with electric shocks to their bodies, including their genitals, and their heads were submerged in water. They hung them from the arms and tortured the girls by hanging scarves around their necks from the ceiling.

The Special Rapporteur called on the authorities of the Islamic Republic to take specific steps to address the gross human rights situation in the country, including taking responsibility for the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and ensuring that all perpetrators responsible are held accountable. Additional steps include limiting the use of lethal force; immediately releasing all prisoners of conscience who have been arrested, detained and sentenced – including those sentenced to death; and immediately ending all forms of violence, torture and ill-treatment of protesters, including sexual violence and harassment of girls and women.

Recommendations to the international community include continuing to apply targeted sanctions for organizations and individuals that carry out serious violations of human rights and to make full use of the principle of universal jurisdiction to ensure accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and crimes under international law. Additionally, Rehman encouraged the international community to support the people of Iran by further easing access to the Internet and ensuring that humanitarian exemptions to sanctions “are given broad and practical effect.”

Ali Bahraini, Iran’s representative at the European headquarters of the United Nations, denounced the report as “imaginary” and “biased.” Rehman, who has been assigned for five and a half years to monitor the human rights situation in Iran, has never been permitted entry into the country to conduct his important work on the ground. Past occupants of this important position, a mandate which NIAC strongly supported, have similarly been barred from entry into the country by the Iranian government.

As the Islamic Republic violently clashed with protesters following the death of Mahsa Amini, the Council voted four months ago to create a fact-finding committee to investigate the government’s repression and present the evidence it collects to international courts. This mission was supported by Mr. Rehman and other international rights experts, even as the Special Rapporteur continues its important work in documenting and pressing the Islamic Republic on its abuses.

Back to top