The Fact Finding Mission on Iran
What is the Fact-Finding Mission?
The Fact-Finding Mission for Iran is a specialised investigative mechanism established by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the alleged human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran related to the protests that began on 16 September 2022, particularly as it pertains to women and children. It was created:
- To establish the facts,
- To make a legal assessment of whether these facts constitute a violation of international law,
- To reach a conclusion as to the existence of the violation and as to the identify of the perpetrator (where possible),
- To offer recommendations.
Why was it established?
Civil society and OHCHR had received numerous reports of disproportionate and lethal use of force by law enforcement including the widespread use of live ammunition, metal pellets, teargas and batons by security forces against unarmed protesters and bystanders, including children. As of February 2023, over 480 individuals, including at least 64 children, were reportedly killed during protests. However, domestic investigations into these reports have allegedly failed to meet international standards of impartiality, independence and transparency. Therefore, by establishing an independent fact-finding body, the UN HRC aims to: overcome some of the obstacles faced by Iranian civil society and justice actors in documenting violations of international human rights law in Iran related to the protests that started in September 2022 preserve evidence for use in “any legal proceedings”, which may include investigations and other judicial processes before domestic or international courts.
How were the members of the FFM chosen?
The President of the Human Rights Council sought recommendations from various stakeholders and expressions of interest to find highly qualified and impartial candidates to fill these positions. They do not represent their states, are independent, serve in their personal capacity and are unpaid.
How will the FFMI contribute to accountability and justice in Iran?
By identifying which parties are at fault –– be they state or non-state actors –– the FFMI represents the first official act of accountability for alleged violations that took place amid the September 2022 protests. The mechanism sets in motion a process for the mobilization of political pressure and resources necessary for furthering justice, ending impunity, and preventing further human rights violations.
Will the FFM prosecute suspects?
Despite having robust investigative mandates, the FFMI does not possess judicial powers. This means it cannot prosecute suspects, hold judicial hearings, or make judicial findings. However, the evidence collected by the FFMI and its findings can be used in potential future criminal justice processes including in and by third countries who may file a case under the basis of universal jurisdiction.
The establishment of the FFM was declared months ago – where is it now?
Preparations such as hiring staff and setting up the mechanism has finally concluded, and the FFM is expected to start its operations in March 2023. There will be an update given to the HRC at its fifty-third session (June/July 2023). The final report presenting the findings of the FFM is expected to be presented at HRC’s fifty-fifth session in March 2024.