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UN experts call on Iran to stop journalist arrests and release those detained

GENEVA (5 February 2013) – A group of United Nations independent human rights experts* called on Monday for the Government of Iran to immediately halt the recent wave of mass arrests of journalists and to release those already detained.

Last week, security forces raided five newspaper offices and arrested at least 17 journalists, the majority of whom work for independent news outlets. Arrest warrants and summons have been issued for several others. Before these recent arrests, over 40 journalists were already imprisoned in Iran.

“The recent wave of arrests of journalists solely for carrying out their professional activities is a flagrant violation of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law,” the UN human rights experts said.

The group of rights experts underlined the fears that the 17 arrests carried out so far are part of a broader campaign to crack down on independent journalists and media outlets in Iran, under the accusation that they have collaborated with ‘anti-revolutionary’ foreign media outlets and human rights organisations. “The right to communicate with international organisations, including non-governmental ones, is a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression, and using such accusations to conduct mass arrests flies in the face of Iran’s international human rights obligations,” the experts said.

“It is disturbing that mass arrests and detention are being used in retaliation against the exercise of freedom of expression. Journalists must be able to speak and write without fear of persecution, arrest and intimidation,” the human rights experts said.

“Ahead of the June 2013 elections, the recent arrests may serve to reinforce self-censorship and severely constrict freedom of opinion and expression at a key moment in Iran’s political development,” warned the experts.

*The Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran

ENDS

UN Human Rights, country page - Iran: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IRIndex.aspx

For more information log on to:
Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx
Working Group on arbitrary detention: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Detention/Pages/WGADIndex.aspx
Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx
Special Rapporteur on Iran: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Orsolya Toth (+41 22 917 93 71 / ototh@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Cécile Pouilly, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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