Iran: Urgent international action needed to ensure accountability for Mahsa Amini’s death in custody

The death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini (whose Kurdish name is Zhina) on 16 September 2022, days after she was violently arrested by Iran’s “morality” police amid credible reports of torture and other ill-treatment, must be independently, impartially and effectively investigated and those suspected of responsibility brought to justice in fair trials.

The Iranian authorities must also urgently repeal laws that impose compulsory veiling on women and girls, perpetuate violence against them and strip them of their right to dignity and bodily autonomy, and abolish the “morality” police which enforces these abusive and discriminatory laws.

Two weeks after Mahsa Amini’s arbitrary arrest in Tehran, and 10 days following her death, the Iranian authorities have failed to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding her death in custody and take steps to bring those responsible to justice. Instead, they have repeatedly denied responsibility for her death, concealed vital evidence, and threatened her family and others questioning the official narrative and calling for justice.

Given the persistent refusal of the Iranian authorities to effectively investigate and provide accountability for the most serious crimes under international law, UN member states must urgently support the establishment of an international investigative and accountability mechanism by the UN Human Rights Council to address the prevailing crisis of impunity in Iran. Support for such a mechanism would send a message to the Iranian authorities that the most serious crimes under international law and other human rights violations, such as unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, including against women for not complying with compulsory veiling laws, will not be tolerated.

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