Selection of Avaei Shows Culture of Impunity For Human Rights Violators Will Continue in Iran
February 27, 2018—The Iranian government’s decision to name Minister of Justice Seyyed Alireza Avaei as its representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council—a man with an appalling human rights record that spans decades—reflects the Iranian government’s complete disregard for human rights violations.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) urges the Member States of the Human Rights Council to register their profound concern at Iran’s selection of an individual who is on the European Union’s (EU) list of individuals sanctioned for gross violations of human rights.
According to the Council of the European Union, Avaei was “responsible for human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, denials of prisoners’ rights and an increase of executions.”
“With the selection of Avaei as their rep to the UN Human Rights Council, Iran is telling the world that human rights violators can not only commit their abuses with impunity in Iran, they will be rewarded,” said Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI’s executive director.
Avaei, a prosecutor in 1988, was a member of the so-called Death Committee in Khuzestan Province. Such committees were established throughout the country and sent thousands of political prisoners to their death by hanging after Inquisition-type judicial proceedings.
In 2009, when millions took to the streets in Tehran to peacefully dispute the results of Iran’s presidential election, Avaei was Tehran’s chief justice as the state launched a brutal crackdown, arresting thousands of protesters. CHRI documented the systematic denial of due process in the ensuing judicial proceedings—violations that were condemned by many other human rights organizations.
During this time, numerous detainees were held at the Kahrizak Detention Center, where at least three people died. CHRI documented via eyewitness reports and interviews with released detainees that torture was rampant in the facility and those who died did so due to beatings. Yet when questioned, Avaei defended the integrity of the system.
CHRI calls on EU member states to condemn the appointment of an individual to a UN Human Rights body whom the EU has assessed to be a major human rights violator.
The Iranian Judiciary, which reports directly to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which reports to President Hassan Rouhani, share responsibility for the selection of Avaei as minister of justice, and his appointment to head the UN’s Human Rights Council.
CHRI urges the authorities in Iran to select individuals for human rights positions who are not themselves internationally designated as “major human rights violators.”
“At a time when we are seeing egregious human rights violations in Iran, with no judicial oversight, investigation or remedy, the appointment of Avaei bodes poorly for any progress toward accountability,” Ghaemi added.