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05/07/2023 English, HRC 53, Human Rights Council, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission

Recap: ID with the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFMI)

This morning at the HRC, the FFMI addressed the Human Rights Council (HRC) for the first time.

Sara Hossain, Chair of the FFMI, delivered an oral update on behalf of the FFMI (فارسی).

Ambassador Shara Duncan Villalobos from Costa Rica delivered a joint statement on behalf of 53 member states, including six Latin American states,[1] two states from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,[2] all states but one from the Western and Other States Group,[3] and the whole of EU states[4] (some states belong to more than one group). The group of states raised concerns at “the reports of the ongoing surge of executions in Iran and the authorities’ use of the death penalty as a tool to chill dissent […] often imposed following unfair trials procedures, without due process, and based on forced confessions obtained through torture.” The group of states strongly condemned the execution of three alleged child offenders in 2022 and raised deep concern “that dozens of alleged child offenders remain on death row, at risk of execution.” Notably, the statement also highlighted, “Persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities are being executed at disproportionately high rates; one-third of those executed in 2022 belonged to the Baloch minority.”

During the interactive dialogue, the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran repeatedly raised “points of order,” interrupting the US, France, and Canada’s statements, for using the term “regime” when speaking of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iranian delegates argued that the term “regime” is disrespectful, thus, in violation of UN’s rules of procedure. A “point of order” can be raised at any moment during proceedings by a delegate. The President of the Human Rights Council, the Ambassador of the Gambia, enjoined Council Members to act respectfully and dignifiedly and reminded that the term “regime” may be used if not preceded or followed by a qualification, per precedents. Delegates from Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Russia, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) expressed opposition, emphasizing that “regime” should not be used altogether. Israel’s delegates added that the Islamic Republic had been using the term “regime” to designate Israel in previous statements. The President of the Human Rights Council, calling the room to order, ruled that he would not take any more points of order on this specific matter.

The States of Venezuela, on behalf of the Like-Minded Group countries,[5] on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the UN[6], and in an individual capacity, Cuba, Russia, China, DPRK, and Zimbabwe, expressed their opposition to the existence of the FFMI, arguing that the establishment of the mechanism was motivated by political bias, lacks impartiality, unduly interferes with the Islamic Republic’s sovereignty and does not best serve the State’s efforts to meet its human rights obligations.

Of note during the interactive dialogue:

  • Almost all Member states taking the floor raised alarms at the recent surge of executions based on alleged offenses that do not meet the threshold of most serious crime under international law, including in the context of protests. 5 Member states and the Group of Nordic-Baltic Countries[7] called on Iranian authorities to halt all pending executions and to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty.
  • Almost all Member States taking the floor called on Iranian authorities to cooperate and/or grant unfettered access to the FFMI and other UN mechanisms to the country and persons, including victims and witnesses.
  • 6 Member states and the EU mentioned the human rights of Iranian minorities, highlighting institutionalized discrimination in law and practice. Among them, Costa Rica emphasized that minorities, including the Baluch and Kurds, represent disproportionate numbers among those killed during the protests and in execution statistics.
  • 3 Member states and the Group of Nordic-Baltic Countries highlighted mandatory veiling laws and practices as part of systemic and pervasive discrimination against women and girls in Iran. Belgium condemned, in particular, “the use of face-recognition technology to monitor unveiled women” and called for “the immediate disbandment of the morality police.” On behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries, Finland expressed alarm at “the draft bill regarding the enforcement of compulsory veiling laws and the draft Penal Code provisions.”

To conclude, the experts of the FFMI answered points and questions raised by delegates during the interactive dialogue.

  • Experts ensured that the FFMI had adopted a victim-centered protocol to ensure the security and confidentiality of all victims coming forward to the mechanism, including victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Experts reiterated the importance of the international community’s role in encouraging the Iranian authorities to cooperate with the FFMI. They ensured that they had tried to contact the Government repeatedly, including to request access to the country, victims, and witnesses. They also informed the Council that they had sought contact with the Committee established by the Government to investigate the protests since September 2022. Experts emphasized that Member States could support the work of the FFMI by granting access to the team in their territory so that experts may speak with victims and witnesses. They should also grant protection and support to victims and witnesses on their soil. Experts also encouraged States to support civil society, journalists, and lawyers.
  • Experts acknowledged the concerns about the slow pace of the search for truth and accountability, which has resulted in accountability gaps and victims and families seeking legal avenues outside Iran. Experts emphasized that the international community is very important in supporting efforts in other national jurisdictions to ensure truth, accountability, and reparation.
  • Experts answered the allegations of bias raised by Member States that they are committed to working impartially and independently in accordance with all UN principles. They made clear that they do not accept any instructions from any government.

[1] Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay

[2] Albania and Bosnia-and-Herzegovina

[3] Andorra, Iceland, Norway, Australia, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Israel*, San Marino, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Canada, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Finland, Malta, France, Monaco, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, United States of America*, Greece, New Zealand 

[4] Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

[5] Syria, Cuba, Iran – Islamic Republic of.

[6] Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Cambodia, China, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran – Islamic Republic of, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , Lao People’s Democratic Republic , Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syrian Arab Republic, Zimbabwe, State of Palestine

[7] Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden.