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Amnesty International Outline Priorities for the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Ahead of the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is set to begin on February 28, Amnesty International has put forward several key priorities to be discussed and considered regarding the human rights crises in Iran.

They are urging the Human Rights Council to ‘take a more robust approach to the crises in Iran, ‘including the establishment of effective monitoring and investigative mechanisms.’

Amnesty International said, “As the authorities in these countries refuse to cooperate with existing human rights mechanisms and processes, and the situations continue to deteriorate, the HRC cannot continue with ‘business as usual.’

A further request is the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. Amnesty is urging the HRC to increase its focus on the ‘systematic’ human rights violations in the country, as well as the institutionalized impunity that officials of the Iranian regime are surrounded by, protecting them from being held accountable for their past and ongoing crimes against humanity.

To address this impunity, Amnesty has also called for an independent mechanism to be created, ‘with a mandate to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence for future investigations and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecutions’ under international law for the perpetrators of the atrocities in Iran.

In one of its recommendations, Amnesty International said, “…the crimes under international law and human rights violations requiring investigation by such a mechanism should include the unlawful killing of hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children, and widespread commission of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances during and in the aftermath of the crackdown on nationwide protests in November 2019.”

Amnesty said that these investigations should extend to past crimes against humanity, in relation to the mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, and the numerous enforced disappearances in the same year.

The systematic human rights violations in Iran, as well as the entrenched impunity surrounding those responsible for the brutal crimes against humanity, have stemmed from the international community’s failure to investigate the officials involved in the crimes. There is clear evidence of the regime’s current president Ebrahim Raisi’s direct involvement in the 1988 massacre, but he has never been held accountable for his actions.

In 2021, thousands of Iranian citizens were subjected to interrogations and unfairly prosecuted and detained, simply for exercising their human rights in a peaceful manner. To this day, hundreds of them are still unfairly imprisoned, with many being detained on bogus charges.

Protests are routinely crushed by the regime’s security forces, who have often unlawfully used lethal force and birdshot to quell the unrest. Many Iranian prisoners have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including being denied adequate medical care. Also, to this day, many suspicious deaths in custody have never been investigated and remain unpunished, despite reports outlining the causes and the perpetrators involved.

Amnesty International said, “The authorities continued to use the death penalty as a weapon of political repression against dissidents, protesters, and members of ethnic minority groups and also for alleged offenses by children. Dissidents and journalists based abroad also face intensified risks of abductions and executions.”

The Special Rapporteur on Iran, in his July 2021 report to the General Assembly, stressed the need for the international community to call for, and to help ensure that accountability for the ‘gross’ human rights violations in Iran is gained.

His upcoming report for this year will give the international community the opportunity to openly respond to the impunity that regime officials have been enjoying for the past four decades. Once it is addressed and dealt with accordingly, the closer it will be to finally end the recurrence of the human rights violations in Iran.