UN Investigator Finds Iran Responsible for 'Egregious' Human Rights Abuses

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images
March 10, 2021

A United Nations investigator on Wednesday said Iran has committed "egregious" human rights violations.

U.N. special rapporteur Javaid Rehman told members of the U.N. Human Rights Council that Iran has overseen a brutal crackdown on political and religious freedom since protests in 2019 and urged member states to hold Tehran accountable, according to Voice of America. Rehman said that Iran killed at least 304 Iranians during the 2019 demonstrations, which protested against the hardline regime.

"It is beyond belief that almost 18 months since the deadly crackdown against the November 2019 protests in Iran, the government has still not conducted a proper investigation nor held anyone accountable for the lethal force used against protesters," Rehman said. 

The U.N. investigator also noted that Iran oversaw the execution of at least 267 Iranians last year, including children and political activists. Beyond its own citizens, Iran also detains four Americans in the country's prisons. 

The Trump administration pushed Iran to release American hostages and improve its human rights record as part of a larger "maximum pressure" campaign, which imposed unprecedented sanctions on the regime. The sanctions, along with Tehran's mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, significantly weakened Iran's economy throughout 2020.

President Joe Biden, however, has pursued an Iran policy resembling his Democratic predecessor, former president Barack Obama. Last month, the Biden administration announced it will rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council, an institution long panned by critics for its anti-Israel bias. Biden also tapped Obama alum Robert Malley, who helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, to spearhead his Iran policy as special envoy. The Biden administration has said it wants to join Iran at the bargaining table to reenter the nuclear deal. Congressional Republicans remain opposed to any efforts from the Biden administration to lift sanctions ahead of negotiations.