March 12, 2018

UN Human Rights Council must act responsibly on Iran

Seyyed Alizera Avayi, justice minister
As the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council begins today to consider a report about violations of human rights and press freedom in Iran, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Council to keep the Iranian regime under international surveillance.

The report is the last one to have been written for the Council by Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, who was the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran until her death last month.

A particularly lucid and alarming assessment of the regime’s policies and practices on press freedom and human rights, the report concludes that the renewal of the special rapporteur’s mandate is both justified and necessary.

Jahangir will unfortunately be unable to present her analysis personally to the Council’s 47 members and defend it against the Iranian regime’s attacks. Iran set the tone by sending a notorious human rights violator, justice minister Seyyed Alizera Avayi, as its representative to this session of the Council.

Avayi has for decades played a leading role in political repression in Iran and is on a list of 29 Iranian government officials who are subject to European Union sanctions that include a ban on travel to the EU and an assets freeze.

We have no illusions about the objectivity of the UN Human Rights Council, which is an inter-governmental political entity,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran bureau. “But the presence in Geneva of Seyyed Alizera Avayi, one of the Iranian regime’s worst killers, clearly shows that the regime is not denying its repressive practices and is thereby humiliating its victims even more and is mocking the United Nations.”

Speaking at the inauguration of this session on 26 February, just before Avayi, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres rightly highlighted the gravity of the situation of human rights and press freedom in Iran and the complete impunity enjoyed by those who violate these rights.

Tomorrow, the Iranian regime will have the right to respond to the accusations, a right that it denies to journalists and human rights defenders in Iran.

RSF hopes that the Council will resist the regime’s provocations and will draw the appropriate conclusions from what is one of the worst situations in the world for press freedom and human rights.

Moini added: “RSF calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council to keep the Iranian regime under international surveillance. The Council must not hesitate in renewing the mandate of the special rapporteur on Iran.”

One of world’s most authoritarian regimes, Iran is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.