Iran: UN fact-finding mission a crucial step for justice and accountability

Iran: UN fact-finding mission a crucial step for justice and accountability - Protection

Protest in support of Iranians, London, October 2022. Photo: Koca Vehbi/ Shutterstock

Today, the UN Human Rights Council has adopted a landmark resolution establishing an international independent fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Iran related to the protests that began on 16 September 2022. The mission will gather, analyse and preserve evidence of such violations including with a view of cooperation with future legal proceedings. 

‘Today’s Resolution signals that demands for freedom, fundamental change and justice, expressed by the brave people of Iran in the face of unimaginable risks to their lives and liberty, have finally been heard by the international community. This significant move towards accountability offers renewed hope to victims of the authorities’ bloody crackdown on protests,’ said Quinn McKew, ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director. 

‘By establishing an investigative accountability mechanism, the Council has sent a clear and unequivocal message to the Iranian authorities that they cannot continue with their brutal assault on human life with impunity. Those perpetrating human rights violations and crimes under international law, from commanders to those who open fire on protesters on the street and commit torture, must know that evidence of their acts will be collected and preserved, with a view of future criminal proceedings. This mechanism is long overdue and we now call for it to be operationalised  without any undue delays,’ said Quinn McKew. 

Since the start of the popular uprising in September 2022, Iran’s authorities and security forces, emboldened by historical and systemic impunity, have fired live ammunition and metal pellets at protesters and bystanders, unlawfully killing hundreds of children, women and men. Thousands of protesters and members of civil society including human rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, media workers, and lawyers have been arbitrarily arrested and detained. At least six individuals have already been sentenced to death in connection with the protests in summary sham trials, and many more are at risk of facing the death penalty. 

Consistent with their track record of cutting off communications during periods of protests, the Iranian authorities have also imposed internet shutdowns and disruptions to conceal their deadly crackdown and distort the truth. They have further used local systems of technology embedded within intelligence to track and arrest protesters.

The َHuman Rights Council’s resolution, adopted at its 35th Special Session, comes in light of systematic and historical impunity that has fueled successive waves of protest bloodshed by Iran’s authorities and security forces.  

On 11 November 2022, 16 UN experts called on the Human Rights Council ‘to establish an international investigative mechanism, to ensure accountability in Iran and to end the persistent impunity for grave human rights violations’.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with ARTICLE 19’s Iran team, please get in touch on [email protected] or +447776 968113. 

Read ARTICLE 19 and Impact Iran’s oral statement to 35th Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council regarding the human rights situation in Iran.