ARTICLE 19 welcomes the appointment of Dr Javaid Rehman as the new UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and congratulates him on his appointment.
Since its establishment through Resolution 16/9 of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2011, the Special Rapporteur’s mandate has been essential in providing practical guidance to Iran on how it should implement its human rights obligations, including in particular the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and association and assembly. The mandate has proven to be a vital support to the community of human rights advocates both in and outside of Iran, and has given voice to, and stood up for, those whose rights have been violated.
Rehman succeeds the late Asma Jahangir, whose passing in February 2018 left the post prematurely vacant. The post had previously been held by Dr Ahmed Shaheed. Both Dr Shaheed and Jahangir made a significant and positive contribution towards the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran, in spite of challenges they faced in securing the cooperation of the government to carry out their work.
Dr Rehman’s background as a respected scholar on Islamic constitutionalism, international and human rights law positions him strongly to understand the specific considerations within Iran’s Islamic laws.
Dr Rehman takes up this mandate at a time when human rights in Iran are under renewed and intense pressure, following a turbulent winter of protests across the country which have seen a crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, assembly and association. Arbitrary arrests and detentions of dual nationals, journalists, activists, and increasingly, human rights lawyers who seek to defend them, on trumped up national security charges continue. Restrictions to freedom of expression and access to information online have tightened, including through the censorship of crucial communications platforms such as Telegram.
In this volatile context, ARTICLE 19 stands ready to support the Special Rapporteur in his work to encourage meaningful and sustainable improvements to the human rights situation in Iran, and in particular, to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression and information, online and offline.
We urge the Iranian authorities to build on the welcome signs of increased cooperation with Jahangir, prior to her passing, and to engage constructively with Dr Rehman as he undertakes this important mandate.
UN Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts, mandated to report and advise on human rights from a country or thematic perspective. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), established the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Iran in March, 2011, in the midst of renewed concerns at human rights violations in the country and the mobilisation of Iranian civil society, calling for international scrutiny of the situation. The mandate is subject to annual renewal, through the adoption of a resolution considered at the March Session of the HRC.