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Iran Human Rights Rapporteur: “International Human Rights Law must be at the heart of response”

The new UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Professor Javaid Rehman, has issued his first report to the General Assembly since he took on the new role in July this year. Professor Rehman has said that challenges in Iran, ‘should be met by a constructive response which places international human rights law at its heart.’ He continued with hopes of “building on the cordial cooperation” extended to him thus far through “constructive engagement” with Iran.

The report said that he will work to investigate,

‘alleged violations of the right to life, particularly the execution of the juvenile offenders; the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment; the right to freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly; the rights of women and girls; and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.’

As highlighted in the report, the Special Rapporteur expressed particular alarm at the execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand, “the fifth juvenile offender executed this year”. He also recalled the numerous other juvenile offenders, appealing to the Iranian authorities to abolish the current practice of sentencing children to death, and ‘to commute all death sentences issued against children in line with international law.’ His concerns echo those of Human Rights Watch who reported on 12 October that the current death penalty laws in Iran are failing children – a total of five children have been executed so far this year for crimes that were committed before the age of 18.

The new report states that the Special Rapporteur will aim to work with the government of Iran and carry out a preliminary assessment, including a visit to Iran to conduct further investigations. It also addressed concerns about the situation of human rights defenders and foreign and dual nationals, an issue that has driven the campaigns of a number of human rights organisations including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.

Iranian legal system

The spotlight on the detention of dual nationals has been at the fore, with now an estimated 10 dual nationals detained in Iran. In September this year the British Foreign Office officially advised British-Iranian nationals against ‘all but essential’ travel to Iran. A Foreign Office spokesperson said that the UK’s ability to provide support to detained dual nationals in Iran was “extremely limited” as the country does not recognise the status of dual nationals.

The concerns of the UK Foreign Office over the limitations for intervention in the Iranian legal process resonate with human rights campaigners. On 26 October, Human Rights Watch said that the vague application of laws in Iran meant that,

‘people cannot predict which acts are crimes and detainees suffer major violations of due process: prosecutions are arbitrary.’

Impact of sanctions

The report also addressed the economic concerns driving numerous protests in the country. Rehman urged,

“the Government to both address the grievances underlying the protests, and also safeguard the right to freedom of association and assembly”.

“In challenging times, the right to freedom of opinion, expression, and access to information are all the more important.” he added.

Professor Rehman also said that he will be seeking to address economic and social rights and to assess the possible negative impact of sanctions on these rights.

IOHR supports the work of Professor Rehman and hopes that investigations into the concerning human rights violations in Iran create steps towards positive actions in seeking the end of human rights violations in Iran.

Watch IOHR TV’s interview with Saeed Kamali Dehghan on the effect of sanctions on Iranians:


Watch IOHR TV’s interview with Richard Ratcliffe:

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