The UN Human Rights Council voted on November 24 to establish an independent fact-finding mission to investigate abuses committed by Iranian security forces in their brutal crackdown on nationwide protests that have gripped the country for more than two months.
According to human rights groups, more than 440 people have been killed by security forces, including dozens of children. Thousands of people have also been arrested, and at least six people have so far been sentenced to death over the protests.
What will the fact-finding mission do?
The fact-finding mission will be made up of independent, international experts tasked with determining whether the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have committed human rights violations. For that, the experts will examine evidence such as pictures and videos. They will also interview the alleged victims, as well as family members of those killed.
What does the Human Rights Council resolution say?
The resolution S-35/1 expresses “deep concern about the recent violent crackdown on peaceful protests” by Iranian security forces, including “alleged arbitrary arrests and detentions, sexual and gender-based violence, excessive use of force, torture and other inhumane treatment and enforced disappearances, as well as the deaths of hundreds of peaceful protesters and thousands of arrests.”
It also establishes the fact-finding mission to “thoroughly and independently” investigate alleged human rights violations related to the protests, especially with respect to women and children.
When will the mission be formed?
The members of the mission will be appointed by the president of the Human Rights Council. The applicants must have the necessary qualifications to fulfil the mandate of the mission.
When will the mission release its first report?
The mission is requested to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-third session, which will be held in Geneva next year, and to present to the council a comprehensive report on its findings by February 2024.
Will the mission probe rights violations since the Islamic Republic was established?
No. The mission of the fact-finding committee is only to investigate human rights violations committed after the nationwide wave of protests erupted on September 16.
Who will the team take orders from?
It will perform its duties independently and won’t take orders from anyone or any institution.
Should the Islamic Republic cooperate with the mission?
The Human Rights Council calls on the Iranian government to “cooperate fully” with the fact-finding mission, “to grant unhindered access to the country without any delay and to provide the members of the fact-finding mission with all information necessary to allow for the proper fulfilment of their mandate.”
However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has already said that the regime “will not engage in any cooperation” with the mission, meaning that the authorities will not allow its members to enter Iran to investigate.
Will it disrupt the probe if Iran does not cooperate?
Preventing the team of experts from travelling to Iran will not disrupt their work. They would still examine evidence of alleged human rights violations and interview the victims or their families. If the Islamic Republic has arguments to express, they would not be included in the final report, and in fact, it would lose its right to challenge the report.
Is the Islamic Republic against all such fact-finding commissions?
The Islamic Republic supported the launch of a fact-finding mission to investigate possible human rights violations by Israeli forces during the 2009 war in the Gaza Strip.
Which organizations should cooperate with the team?
The resolution requests UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “provide all the resources and expertise necessary to enable the fact-finding mission to fulfil its mandate”, and the Office of the High Commissioner to “provide such administrative, technical and logistical support.”
In other words, the entire world body and all its agencies are requested to provide support to the mission.
What will happen after the mission publishes its final report?
Based on the available evidence of a brutal, disproportionate crackdown on protesters by the Islamic Republic of Iran, officials and agents of the regime might be accused of human rights violations. In this case, the United Nations is likely to establish regional or international courts to prosecute those accused.