Skip to main content

Press releases Special Procedures

Iran: Fundamental legal and institutional reforms needed to curb impunity, says UN expert

17 March 2022

GENEVA (17 March 2022) –A UN expert called today for fundamental reforms to the legal and institutional frameworks in the Islamic Republic of Iran to address persistent impunity.

“A system of accountability is a fundamental condition for the respect and protection of human rights, and is in itself part of a State’s obligations under international law,” he said in a report to the Council. “This requires a system of governance that sees individuals as rights holders”.

The report also contains a general overview of the human rights situation in the country, and includes some of the positive steps taken by the authorities during the reporting period, such as temporary or permanent release of some political prisoners.

In his report, Rehman analyses the key obstacles to accountability in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the negation of the principles of rule of law and separation of powers. He highlights some of the emblematic examples of serious violations, from enforced disappearances and summary executions of 1988 to the violent crackdown of protests in 2019 as well as the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic for which there has been no accountability. He said that much is needed to reform the legal and security systems to put an end to impunity and prevent recurrence of past violations.

“There is not only an evident lack of accountability for specific events, but also a culture of impunity that also involves punishing individuals brave enough to call for justice and truth within a tightly controlled and hostile environment for criticism or dissent,” he said.

Rehman said that very few have ever been held accountable for crimes, and victims and their families continue to be denied truth and justice.

“The legal structure, including the lack of independence of the judiciary, as well as obstacles for democratic participation in decision-making, together with the fact that many perpetrators who have committed serious violations remain in positions of power mean that people have in effect no realistic possibility of achieving justice,” he said.

“It is imperative that the international community, including the Human Rights Council and individual Member States  support the calls for accountability in Iran, and further strengthen the human rights situation in the country.”

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged Iran’s comments to the report.


*The expert: Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Iran

For more information

For more information and media requests, please contact

Ms. Azin Tadjdini
([email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact

Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 79 444 7578 /
[email protected]).

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

Concerned about the world we live in?
Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.
and visit the web page at