Iran: Fundamental legal and institutional reforms needed to curb impunity, says UN expert

Geneva, March 20, 2022.- A UN expert called today for fundamental reforms to the legal and institutional frameworks in the Islamic Republic of Iran to address persistent impunity.

“A system of accountability is a fundamental condition for the respect and protection of human rights, and is in itself part of a State’s obligations under international law,” he said in a report to the Council. “This requires a system of governance that sees individuals as rights holders”.

The report also contains a general overview of the human rights situation in the country, and includes some of the positive steps taken by the authorities during the reporting period, such as temporary or permanent release of some political prisoners.

In his report, Rehman analyses the key obstacles to accountability in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the negation of the principles of rule of law and separation of powers. He highlights some of the emblematic examples of serious violations, from enforced disappearances and summary executions of 1988 to the violent crackdown of protests in 2019 as well as the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic for which there has been no accountability. He said that much is needed to reform the legal and security systems to put an end to impunity and prevent recurrence of past violations.

“There is not only an evident lack of accountability for specific events, but also a culture of impunity that also involves punishing individuals brave enough to call for justice and truth within a tightly controlled and hostile environment for criticism or dissent,” he said.

Rehman said that very few have ever been held accountable for crimes, and victims and their families continue to be denied truth and justice.

“The legal structure, including the lack of independence of the judiciary, as well as obstacles for democratic participation in decision-making, together with the fact that many perpetrators who have committed serious violations remain in positions of power mean that people have in effect no realistic possibility of achieving justice,” he said.

“It is imperative that the international community, including the Human Rights Council and individual Member States  support the calls for accountability in Iran, and further strengthen the human rights situation in the country.”

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged Iran’s comments to the report.

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