BERLIN - A leading US expert on Iran said a report authored by Human Rights Watch claiming economic sanctions should be lifted on Tehran, which has been cited in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, should be dismissed because of its slipshod research.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, wrote in the Washington Examiner last week that “anyone still citing Human Rights Watch should look at the report’s methodology section: “Human Rights Watch requested permission to travel to Iran to conduct this research. Iranian authorities did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request to visit Iran or subsequent requests for information.”’
He continued, “Accordingly, over the course of a year, the group ‘interviewed six Iranian medical professionals,’ either from afar or while they traveled abroad. It also spoke with ‘four other experts on US government policymaking on Iran.’”
Rubin said “Given that such policymaking has been the subject of great partisan debate for four decades, it might be useful to know with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, in this case, as none would face jeopardy for talking. Did they represent an ideological spectrum?”
The HRW October 2019 report titled “’Maximum Pressure’: US Economic Sanctions Harm Iranians’ Right to Health,” has been cited, wrote Rubin, “to show that the United States should lift its sanctions to help Iran fight the coronavirus crisis.”
He noted that the report was published before the start of the Swiss humanitarian channel in February that permits Tehran to import medicine and humanitarian supplies. France, the UK and Germany invoked a second humanitarian channel - the Paris-based INSTEX financial mechanism - last week to send Iran $548,000 worth of German medical technology to the mullah regime.
Rubin wrote that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that “sanctions do not hamper the import of medicine, but they [Iran] don’t want to let a good crisis go to waste. And also put aside that the report itself is bare bones and does not do much to support its demands for the lifting of sanctions.”
When confronted with Rubin’s findings, Emma Daly, a spokeswoman for HRW, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that “Human Rights Watch stands by our reporting on Iran and sanctions and will publish a new report on the human rights issues soon.”
The US imposed sanctions on Iran’s regime because of its alleged nulcear weapons program, Tehran’s support of international terrorism and its ballistic missiles apparatus.
Human Rights Watch has been embroiled in a series of Mideast scandals over the years that critics, including its late founder, say has tarnished the organization’s reputation. Last month, it was revealed that HRW executive director Ken Roth accepted nearly $500,000 from a Saudi real estate tycoon for promising not to support advocacy of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Roth later said he regretted his decision. The LGBT community is one of the most repressed minority groups in the Islamic heartland and in North Africa.