December 11, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Human Rights Activists (HRA) with the legal support of UpRights conclude there are reasonable grounds to believe the crime against humanity of gender and political persecution has taken place in the Islamic Republic of Iran since at least 16 September 2022

Washington D.C., – 12/11/2023 – Human Rights Activists (HRA) with the legal support of Uprights, has filed a joint 60 page submission to the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFMI).  The submission argues that the facts provided to the FFMI by HRA and two partner organizations should lead the FFMI to conclude that crimes against humanity, and in particular persecution on political and gender grounds, have taken place in the Islamic Republic of Iran since at least 16 September 2022. The submission has been presented in five parts: 1.) Methodology on the collection and verification of the information presented. 2.) The background against which the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests took place, highlighting the existence of a discriminatory legal framework against women, girls and LGBTQI+ individuals, as well as relevant structural issues in the relationship between the Iranian State and its population 3.) The facts surrounding the protests, shedding light on the increased restrictions imposed on women and girls, and the violent response of Iranian authorities to these otherwise peaceful protests 4.) A legal analysis of the facts focussing on the crime against humanity of persecution on gender and political grounds 5.) Recommendations in light of the facts presented.  


The submission demonstrates that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the crackdown by the Iranian authorities on the peaceful protests that followed the death of Mahsa Zhina Amini, and other violations related to the protests since September 2022, constitute a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population. The submission delves into specific acts of violence by the Iranian government’s repression of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests, such as arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, and murder, qualifying them as underlying acts of crimes against humanity and severe deprivations of fundamental rights. The submission then shows that agents of the Iranian government intended to discriminate against women and girls especially on the basis of gender, having been singled out for persecutory treatment such as the use of derogatory language, and acts of sexual violence including rape. At the same time, the submission recognises that others have been targeted on political grounds.

The entirety of the submission has not been made public at this time however an executive summary, including the facts and analysis, is available for download in PDF format or can be read in the plain text version here.

Recommendations to the FFMI:

On the crime against humanity of gender and political persecution:

  • Given the legal analysis of the facts presented, HRA urges the FFMI to recognise the potential commission of crimes against humanity, specifically that the crime of persecution on political and gender grounds has taken place in the Islamic Republic of Iran since at least 16 September 2022, in relation to the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests. HRA suggests that based on the information and analysis submitted, these findings should be an integral part of the FFMI’s report to the HRC in March 2024. The FFMI’s conclusions should emphasize that women, girls and LGBTQI+ individuals perceived as not conforming with or opposing the established gender norms and discriminatory policies have been specifically targeted by the Iranian authorities, their agents and security forces.
  • Recognising the political and gender dimension of the persecutory acts that have taken place in the context of the 2022-2023 protests, HRA encourages the FFMI to conduct further analysis on the participation of men and boys in the protests, and the perception and intent of the perpetrators for targeting them. HRA emphasizes the importance of applying a gender lens to such analysis.
  • Acknowledging the inherent challenges and security constraints in documenting violations taking place in Iran, HRA urges the FFMI to continue investigating alleged violations against LGBTQI+ individuals in the context of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests. These instances, while more difficult to document extensively, do exist, and lend to the discriminatory intent on the part of the perpetrators. 

On documentation and accountability:

  • The commission of international crimes by the Iranian authorities triggers individual criminal responsibility going beyond State responsibility under the international human rights law framework. While the present submission does not focus on the conduct of specific individuals, HRA submits that the FFMI should ensure that its March 2024 report includes a section on the lack of accountability for widespread and systematic violations that have taken place in Iran since at least 16 September 2022, as well as the need for redress and ensuring that justice is achieved for women, girls and LGBTQI+ victims.
  • Given the FFMI’s mandate to collect and preserve potential evidence with a view to cooperate with legal proceedings, the FFMI should ensure that, following its March 2024 report, where possible, and where consent has been given, it cooperates with investigators, prosecutors, and relevant national jurisdictions building case files against alleged Iranian perpetrators across the globe with a view to closing the accountability gap.
  • Given the current uncertainty surrounding the renewal of the mandate of the FFMI mandate beyond March 2024, the FFMI should, while finalizing and preparing its March report, continue to receive submissions of information and maintain open lines of communication with those individuals and members of civil society documenting ongoing violations in relation to its mandate.   

Recommendations to the international community:
On the mandate of the FFMI beyond March 2024 

  • In light of the vast violations that have occurred in the context of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests in Iran, and continuing through the end of 2023, Member States must vow to vote in favor of a renewal of the mandate of the FFMI beyond March 2024 to ensure that the FFMI has sufficient time and resources to document the ongoing human rights violations and potential violations of international law that have and continue to occur. 
  • Further, Member States at the HRC should consider expanding the mandate of the FFMI to include violations that have occurred prior to the current temporal scope. Expansion of the current mandate will allow the proper analysis needed to understand the structural issues and the backdrop against not only current violations that are taking place, but also those dating back decades. An expanded mandate could also allow investigators to delve into individual responsibility for serious violations with a view to closing the expanding accountability gap in the Islamic Republic of Iran within the framework of international law. 


 Read the Executive Summary of the Submission here


For more information please contact Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability at Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) [email protected]
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