Friday , 1 March 2024

UN Rights Official Visits Iran Amid Media Silence And Controversy

iranintl – The Deputy UN Commissioner for Human Rights has visited Iran in total media silence after Iranian opposition urged her to cancel or postpone her visit in protest to Iran’s recent executions.

Neither the Iranian authorities, nor the UN Human Rights Office have issued statements regarding Nada Al-Nashif’s visit, which took place between 2 to 5 February as scheduled. However, in an email to Voice of America (VOA) on Monday, rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani confirmed that Al-Nashif arrived in Iran on Friday, with her departure scheduled for later on Monday.

The UN Human Rights Office has yet to respond to Iran International’s inquiries about the media silence surrounding the visit by both sides, and the objectives achieved during her time in Tehran.

Last week, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights assured that the planned visit of the deputy high commissioner to Iran would not compromise their reporting and advocacy efforts, despite criticisms.

Responding to Iran International on Saturday, the UN Human Rights Office acknowledged concerns raised by Iranian and other rights activists over the visit. They stated that the visit, initially scheduled for 2020 but delayed due to various factors including the COVID pandemic, aimed to discuss critical human rights issues such as the death penalty and women’s rights.

The Human Rights Office said the aim of Al-Nashif’s visit was “to discuss critical human rights issues, including the death penalty and rights of women, as well as Iran’s obligations under international human rights law as a state party to a number of treaties” and added that the visit would entail meeting with relevant state interlocutors, including judicial officials, and UN partners.

“Our mandate requires us to seek all avenues to promote States’ compliance with their international human rights obligations,” the Human Rights Office said.

The timing of Al-Nashif’s visit, following Iran’s recent executions and a surge in human rights abuses, raised concerns that the Islamic Republic might exploit it for propaganda purposes. Rights activists, including a coalition of 25 human rights organizations, called on Al-Nashif to postpone or cancel her visit in protest against the executions.

Iran executed four Kurdish prisoners on Monday, accusing them of collaborating with Israel. Rights organizations claim these executions were based on coerced confessions and lacked fair trials.

Another young man, a protester, was hanged on January 23 although his death sentence had been overturned by the Supreme Court and a retrial had been ordered, due to gross violations in his first trial. Recent weeks have seen an average of three executions per day in Iran.

The coalition of 25 human rights organizations expressed suspicions that Iranian authorities might exploit the visit to undermine international mechanisms critical to human rights promotion and protection in Iran.

“The visit will not undermine our approach in terms of reporting and advocacy. We hope that our combined advocacy and engagement contribute to progress towards strengthened alignment with international human rights standards,” the Human Rights Office responded about such concerns while stressing that its dialogue with the authorities allows them to follow up on all recommendations emanating from human rights mechanisms, including special procedures and fact-finding missions.

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council appointed an independent fact-finding mission in November 2022 to review Iran’s human rights violations during the Woman, Life, Freedom movement that began in mid-September and spread throughout the country but was brutally crushed by killing around 500 civilians and arresting tens of thousands of protesters.

The Islamic Republic said it would not allow an independent investigation into the protests and has refused to cooperate with UN human rights rapporteurs since 1992.