An independent investigation into ongoing human rights violations in Iran is essential to ensure the people abused, killed, and detained during recent protests in the country see justice, the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) said.
As Iran enters its third month of civilian protests, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is preparing to vote on whether to establish an independent international investigation to gather evidence of human rights violations in the country. It would be the first UN body of its kind on Iran and an essential step towards ensuring perpetrators are held responsible for their abuses.
The HRC’s decision to hold a Special Session on November 24 to address “the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran” is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be followed by concrete steps towards accountability, CFJ said.
“The girls who are taking to the streets in Iran have inspired the world with their courage,” said Amal Clooney, co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice. “States should now establish an independent international investigative body to gather evidence of the abuses they have suffered, so that justice will one day be possible”.
“We’ve learned time and time again that accountability can’t wait. “The protesters in Iran, led by women and girls, have shown incredible bravery in their resolve to secure their basic human rights. Now HRC member states must pass this resolution to investigate the daily violence Iranian civilians are enduring and collect, analyze, and preserve evidence of these violations. Gathering and preserving evidence in real-time will help support future legal proceedings against perpetrators of human rights abuses in the country,” said Yasmine Chubin, Legal Advocacy Director of CFJ’s Docket initiative.
The protests in Iran were sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict hijab rules. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic’s forces are reportedly continuing a campaign of unlawful killings, including of children, sexual violence against women and girls and arbitrary arrests of thousands of protesters.
“Today, [we are] watching on our screens what’s happening in Iran … a protest movement being led by girls in school uniforms who are facing off against a regime that is using force to torture and kill,” said Amal Clooney, speaking earlier this month at an event hosted by The Obama Foundation.
“And they’re still determined, because if they’re not the ones on the front lines, they can’t rely on others for change. I think that’s incredible. [And] I think it gives us perspective. If girls like that can risk everything to just be free to show their hair and have … basic freedoms, then we can all do more from where we’re sitting,” said Amal.
What founders say about Clooney Foundation?
We founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice because we believe in creating a world where human rights are protected and no one is above the law. We believe that justice, like war, must be waged; it doesn’t just happen on its own. So we gather evidence of mass human rights abuses, provide free legal support to victims and work to ensure that perpetrators are held to account.
The fight for justice has some difficult foes and that we are staring down some alarming global trends. Since it was founded CFJ has grown every year, and we now operate in more than 40 countries. We are actively investigating war crimes in Ukraine, monitoring sham trials targeting women and journalists, and fighting back against a global trend of authoritarianism that seeks to punish those who speak truth to power.
For many of the causes we take on, it can be years before we see a clear path to justice – but CFJ continues to work on issues that have long faded from the headlines. This includes representing Yazidi women who were raped and enslaved by ISIS, supporting survivors of atrocities in Congo and Sudan, and battling the epidemic of discrimination and violence against women and girls worldwide.
We are in the fight for justice it for the long haul, no matter how difficult the journey.
At CFJ, we provide free legal support to victims of abuses of power. Each of our programs aims to fight systemic injustice against vulnerable communities: journalists, women and girls, democracy-defenders, LGBTQ persons and minorities.
When journalists are locked up just for doing their job, we try to get them out of prison.
Our TrialWatch program monitors criminal trials in over 40 countries by placing individuals who are trained using our TrialWatch app in courtrooms across the globe. The world’s leading legal experts use the data gathered by these monitors to grade the trials and expose those that are a sham. We then work with local lawyers to free those who are unjustly imprisoned. And we are building Global Justice Rankings to expose countries’ performance and advocate for systemic change.
When minorities are targeted for genocide, we help to trigger trials against the perpetrators.
Our Docket program gathers evidence of war crimes and genocide, from Ukraine to the Congo, Darfur, to Venezuela and Iraq, shares it with prosecutors, and represents survivors in trials once perpetrators are in the dock.
When young girls are denied the right to study, work, or marry when they want, we help them fight for their rights through the courts.
Our Waging Justice for Women initiative works hand-in-hand with young women in Africa to pursue their rights through the courts and run ‘women for women’ legal aid clinics that provide free legal support to women and girls who are victims of discrimination.