Twenty-two-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini was arrested and forced into a van by Iran’s so called “morality police” in the capital Tehran on 13 September last year. Authorities alleged she was not in conformity with the country’s strict laws on mandatory veiling.
She died on 16 September reportedly after suffering a heart attack. Her family, however, denied she had any heart issues and alleged she was tortured.
Failure to ensure justice
A Government probe into the death fell “far short” of international standards, including the requirements of independence and transparency, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran said in a news release.
“Jina Mahsa should never have been arrested in the first place,” said Sara Hossain, Chair of the Human Rights Council-appointed mission, adding that since then, the Government has “failed to ensure truth, justice and reparations to her family, or to families of other victims, women, girls and all protesters who have been subjected to violations of fundamental human rights.”
“Instead, the Islamic Republic is doubling down on repression and reprisals against its citizens and seeking to introduce new and more draconian laws that severely restrict further the rights of women and girls.”
The independent panel also reported that Mahsa Amini’s father and uncle were arrested around 10 days ago by security forces in their hometown Saqqez, and their whereabouts “remain unknown”.
Her grave was also reportedly desecrated, and family members prevented from mourning. The family’s lawyer and journalists covering her case have also been harassed.
Groundswell of protests
Ms. Amini’s death sparked a wave of protests throughout the country.
The fact-finding team also said it is now investigating allegations that the State responded to the protests with unnecessary and disproportionate force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, extra-judicial executions and harassment of family members of victims.
Such acts “continue until today”, it added.
Authorities are exacerbating punitive measures against those exercising their fundamental rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, according to the independent panel.
Increased risks for women
The Fact-Finding Mission also said that a draft bill, currently under consideration by the Parliament – if passed – would expose women and girls to increased risks of violence, harassment and arbitrary detention.
The legislation proposes increased fines and prison terms for women and girls found in breach of mandatory veiling provisions, as well as harsher punishments including travel bans, the denial of education and medical care and sanctions against businesses.
Call for cooperation
The Fact-Finding Mission called on the Government to fully cooperate with its investigations and ensure that all those affected have unhindered and safe access to providing evidence, including referral of their cases.
The Government has until now not responded to repeated requests for information, the independent body added, noting that it will present a comprehensive report on its findings to the Human Rights Council during an interactive dialogue at its 55th session in March 2024.
The Fact-Finding Mission
The Fact-Finding Mission was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran related to the protests that began there on 16 September 2022, especially with respect to women and children.
The panel is composed of independent members Sara Hossain of Bangladesh (Chair), Shaheen Sardar Ali of Pakistan and Viviana Krsticevic of Argentina.
They are not UN staff members and serve in an independent capacity.