UN Human Rights Commissioner Finds ‘Disturbing Landscape’ In Iran
In a statement to the 47th session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said a report presented to the Secretary General found "a disturbing human rights landscape for Iranian women and men of every religious faith, ethnic origin, social class and other status."
Pointing out that in 2020 Iran executed at least 267 people, Bachelet said the Secretary General was still deeply concerned by widespread use of the death penalty, and its imposition for a range of acts other than "most serious crimes" with death sentences frequently based on forced confessions.
"Protesters, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and civil society actors continue to be subjected to intimidation, arbitrary detention and criminal prosecution, including the death penalty," she said. According to Bachelet, the report also confirmed mistreatment of prisoners, including widespread and extended use of solitary confinement as punishment and to prevent information reaching the outside world.
"We regret that the framework for the right to political participation is not in line with international standards," Bachelet said. Iran's controversial presidential and local elections held June 18 have highlighted allegations of human rights violations by President-elect Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi).
Raisi, since 2019 Iran's Chief Justice by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's appointment, participated in a 1988 commission that ordered the execution of thousands of prisoners who were members of the Mujahideen-e Khalq group (MEK) or leftists.
In his first press conference as president-elect Monday, Raisi said that as a judge he had "always defended human rights." Asked about his role in 1988, Raisi said those accusing him were “guilty themselves” and that foreign powers were harboring "17,000 murderers" who had killed Iranian officials – a reference to the MEK, transferred to Albania in 2013 by the US from its base in Iraq, where it had been allied to Saddam Hussein, including in the 1980-88 war with Iran and in helping crush the Kurdish revolt of 1991. Some associates of former president Donald Trump, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former national security advisor John Bolton, have strong MEK links.
Raisi won the presidential election, stage-managed by the election watchdog Guardian Council, with 17.8 million votes on a 48.8 percent turnout, the lowest ever in Iranian presidential elections, the first of which was in 1989.
Speaking to Iran International TV on Tuesday, Amnesty International's secretary general, Agnes Callamard called for Raisi to be investigated for "crimes against humanity” and said he had “clear record of violating human rights.”
Callamard said Raisi's claim to defend human rights was strange as he had “personally” supervised the 1988 executions. She urged “the international community” to stand by those executed and said the UN Human Rights Council should establish “an independent mechanism” for effective investigation of Raisi and his role.
As UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Callamard in 2019 welcomed the arrest in Sweden of Hamid Nouri − allegedly an assistant prosecutor during the 1988 executions − but universal jurisdiction has made little progress in recent years. The US is not party to the Rome Statue establishing the International Criminal Court in 2oo2 to prosecute crimes against humanity, while Trump in 2019 pardoned three US soldiers implicated in war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The MEK’s National Council of Resistance in 2019 launched a booklet, Crimes Against Humanity, naming over 5,000 members allegedly executed in 1988. The MEK, whose own human rights record is highlighted by critics, constantly highlights the executions in its propaganda.
Callamard on Saturday excoriated Raisi over his role as chief justice. "Under his watch, the judiciary has also granted blanket impunity to government officials and security forces responsible for unlawfully killing hundreds of men, women and children and subjecting thousands of protesters to mass arrests and at least hundreds to enforced disappearance, and torture and other ill-treatment during and in the aftermath of the nationwide protests of November 2019.”