One year ahead of Iran’s third cycle review through the UPR, ARTICLE 19 remains concerned that the implementation of its previous UPR recommendations on freedom of expression remains near non-existent. Since our last assessment of Iran’s commitments to the UPR process, a lot has occurred, in terms of nationwide protests during the Winter of 2017/2018, the recent Bazaar protests, and the wide ranging arrests and controls online.
Rather than open space for civil society and the media, the government routinely uses the Penal Code and Press Law to crack down on any sign of opposition or criticism, enabled by weak Constitutional protections for fundamental rights. Comprehensive legal reforms are required but are not forthcoming.
Instead of ensuring freedom of expression online, the government has continued to tighten the net, facilitated by the Computer Crimes Law of 2010, which must be repealed. We condemn the use of network shutdowns, and Internet censorship during nationwide protests in January this year, designed to undermine protesters’ rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, and deprive the public of their right to know. In April, a judicial order to filter Telegram further restricted online expression. These practices violate international human rights law, and must end.
The judicial harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, environmental activists and women’s rights activists has also continued unabated. We remain concerned by the persecution of dual-nationals on trumped up national security charges, including Nazanin-Zaghari Ratcliffe and the late Kavous Sayed Emami, who died in detention. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and an end to the harassment of the Sayed-Emami family. We further condemn the recent, fabricated charges against human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, along with the continued targeting of lawyers who take on politically sensitive cases.
ARTICLE 19 calls for swift action from the Iranian government to reverse the crackdown on freedom of expression, and to live up to its UPR commitments and international human rights law obligations, ahead of its review next year. States who participated in this UPR, Member States at the HRC, as well as the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly, must call on it to do the same.