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Iran: UN expert welcomes historic verdict in universal jurisdiction case

15 July 2022

GENEVA (15 July 2022) – The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Javaid Rehman today hailed the conviction of an Iranian official by a Swedish court for his involvement in summary executions and enforced disappearances against political dissidents in 1988.

Hamid Nouri was arrested at a Stockholm airport in 2019 and charged with war crimes for his involvement in the mass execution and torture of political prisoners in Iran in 1988 on the basis of an order issued by then Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini. At the time, Nouri was a prosecutor and prison official. Civil society organisations estimate that several thousand political prisoners were executed.

The court found Hamid Nouri guilty of war crimes and murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

“The process and verdict in Sweden constitute a landmark and important leap forward in the pursuit of truth and justice for a dark chapter in Iranian history. It is also a clear signal that denial, despite substantive evidence, and impunity can no longer be tolerated,” Rehman said.

Sweden's principle of universal jurisdiction allows its courts to try a person on serious charges such as murder or war crimes regardless of where the alleged offenses took place.

“I urge other States to take on similar investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations in Iran using principles of universal jurisdiction. There is a serious accountability gap for past and present gross violations of human rights law, and national courts in other States play a fundamental role in filling that gap,” the expert said.

“Together with my predecessors and colleagues in Special Procedures, I have repeatedly called for accountability for the summary executions and enforced disappearances of 1988 and sought to engage with authorities in this regard,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“However, the events continue to be denied by Iranian authorities. I hope this verdict is a first step towards full truth, justice and compensation for victims, their families and civil society organisations that persist in their demands for justice”.

Mr. Javaid Rehman was appointed as the third Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran since re-establishment of the mandate in July 2018. Mr. Rehman is a Professor of International Human Rights Law and Muslim Constitutionalism at Brunel University, London. Mr Rehman teaches human rights law and Islamic law and continues to publish extensively in the subjects of international human rights law, Islamic law and constitutional practices of Muslim majority States.

The Special Rapporteurs 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 organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Iran

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