The president of the U.N. Human Rights Council has announced the members of an independent international fact-finding mission tasked with investigating Iran’s deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Argentine Ambassador Federico Villegas, who heads the 47-country Geneva-based Human Rights Council, said in a statement Tuesday that Bangladeshi lawyer Sara Hossain will chair the three-person commission, which also includes law professor Shaheen Sardar Ali of Pakistan and Argentinian human rights lawyer Viviana Krsticevic.
In a special session on November 24, the council condemned Iran's repression of peaceful demonstrators following the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September and voted to create an international fact-finding mission to investigate the deadly crackdown. The 22-year-old student died in police custody after the so-called morality police detained her for improperly wearing her headscarf. Her death has set off more than three months of demonstrations.
The three female commissioners are mandated to investigate alleged human rights violations in Iran related to the protests, “especially with respect to women and children.” They are also authorized to collect, analyze and preserve evidence. They will report back to the Human Rights Council in June 2023 with an oral report and present their full findings in March 2024.
Rights groups say at least 471 people have been killed during the recent protests, including dozens of children. More than 14,000 people have been arrested, and two have been executed, while several others also face the death penalty.
Iran has previously defended its handling of the protests.
When the creation of the fact-finding mission was approved last month, Iran’s envoy in Geneva accused western countries of using human rights as a political tool.
At his year-end press conference on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the Iranian government’s reaction to the protests has been “totally unacceptable.” He said he strongly condemns the “massive violations of human rights” and has raised the issue directly with senior Iranian officials.