UN's children agency says it “condemns all violence against children” in Iran, where a brutal crackdown by security forces on nationwide protests has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 50 under-18s.
UNICEF “calls for an end to all forms of violence and abuse”, the agency said in a statement on November 27, amid growing criticism over its alleged inaction regarding the killings.
It also expressed deep concern about “continued raids and searches conducted in some schools”, saying: “Schools must always be safe places for children”.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the September 16 death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. The unrest triggered a heavy-handed clampdown by security forces in which more than 400 people were killed and thousands of others were arrested.
Apparently responding to criticism UNICEF has faced, the statement said that the agency “has directly communicated our concerns to the authorities in Iran since the first cases of child casualties occurred in response to the protests”.
As a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran “has an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children to life, privacy, freedom of thought, and peaceful assembly”, UNICEF said.
"Children and adolescents must be protected from all forms of harm that risk not only their lives and freedom, but also their mental and physical health”, the statement said, adding: "Too many mothers and fathers have experienced the devastating loss of a child from the unrest”.