Europe calls for UNHRC debate on Iran protests, human rights violations

Germany and Iceland submitted a request on Friday on behalf of dozens of countries to hold a special session at the UN Human Rights Council on the ongoing protests in Iran.

 Overview of the session of the Human Rights Council during the speech of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE/FILE PHOTO)
Overview of the session of the Human Rights Council during the speech of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 27, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE/FILE PHOTO)

Germany and Iceland submitted a request on Friday on behalf of dozens of countries to hold a special session at the UN Human Rights Council on the ongoing protests in Iran later this month, a document showed.

The request called for the session "to address the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially with respect to women and children," according to the letter signed by the two countries' ambassadors.

Anti-government demonstrations began in September after the death of a Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by morality police for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic's strict dress code imposed on women. They have since grown into a popular revolt and rights groups say hundreds of protesters have been killed in the government crackdown. The government has blamed Amini's death on preexisting medical problems.

At least one-third of the UN Human Rights Council's voting members supported the proposal, as is required for meetings outside of the body's normal agenda, meaning its convening is a formality.

Dozens of others also signed up, the German diplomatic mission in Geneva said, bringing the total number of backers to 44. It did not immediately provide the list.

 Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. expulsion from Iran, in Tehran, Iran November 4, 2022 (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS) Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. expulsion from Iran, in Tehran, Iran November 4, 2022 (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The letter requested the meeting take place on November 24.

Iran's opposition to the request

Iran has opposed the convening of the meeting in private meetings, diplomats told Reuters. Its diplomatic mission in Geneva did not respond to an emailed response for comment on the planned debate on Friday.

The rights council has no legal powers in itself but its debates boost scrutiny of alleged abuses and sometimes the evidence gleaned from its investigations is later used in international court cases.