Viviana Krsticevic, UN investigator: “Iran's laws seek to educate women and girls” | International

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Some human rights are not extinguished by death. Like those that protect memory and identity. Perhaps for this reason, lawyer Viviana Krsticevic (born in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina), member of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran—established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in November 2022—always refers to Mahsa Amini. also because of the first name that her family chose for her: Yina (Life), the nickname she could not legally carry in Iran because she was Kurdish. Krsticevic, a human rights expert, and two other jurists are investigating the circumstances of Amini's death in police custody, the lawyer explained last week in a telephone conversation from the Czech Republic.

The three researchers also investigate the fate of the victims of the protests against the regime, triggered by the fateful end that the 22-year-old Kurdish girl met, three days after being arrested for wearing her veil incorrectly. Iran has not yet authorized the UN mission to enter its territory when, on September 16, one year passed since the death of Yina Mahsa Amini. The Iranian Parliament approved a rule that toughens penalties for women who do not cover their hair, the hijab law and chastity, last Wednesday, days after this interview was conducted.

Ask. What information do you have about Amini's death?

Answer. As analyzed so far by the mission [del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU]the State has not guaranteed the right to truth, justice and reparation of the relatives of Yina Mahsa Amini with the answers it has given. [Las autoridades atribuyeron su muerte a causas naturales]. We continue to gather evidence, but the official explanations have been unsatisfactory. Added to this are the harassment of her family, journalists and others, which adds to our concerns regarding the Government's response to the young woman's death.

Q. Has there been impunity?

R. In the case of Yina Mahsa Amini, we can confirm this. Regarding the rest of the cases that we are investigating, with the information we have, most of the victims have not yet obtained justice.

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Q. What figures do you have about those who died during the protests? NGOs estimate more than 500.

R. Part of these figures arise from official information that reports at least 22,000 pardoned, so at least 22,000 people were detained. Later, hundreds of people died in the context of the protests and seven were given the death penalty, after trials without guarantees. The mission had asked that people linked to the protests not be executed, and yet the State continued. We cannot yet give an exact death toll, but the allegations we have received indicate that there could be more than 500 people.

Q. How did the State agents act?

R. We are studying allegations of serious human rights violations with a special focus on women and girls, which include the disproportionate use of force, injuries and homicides, arbitrary arrests and specific repression against groups of individuals and associations such as human rights defenders. , lawyers and journalists. We are also looking at detention conditions, including possible torture, sexual and gender-based violence. We have placed emphasis on the study of online violence against women, the right to protest and freedom of expression.

Q. What are your conclusions?

R. Our investigation is not over. We draw attention to the violations of rights linked to discriminatory legal frameworks for the exercise of the rights of women and girls, such as the mandatory use of the veil and various manifestations of freedom of expression. The mission is studying legislative proposals to increase penalties for those who exercise their right to choose whether to wear a veil or not. The penalties for certain acts are already chilling. People who for dancing, for singing, for expressing solidarity with the women's movement are being criminally prosecuted, were sentenced to prison, have had their cars confiscated, have been banned from leaving the country, using social networks, or exercising. certain professions.

Q. Are there figures?

R. Yes, and they are shocking. According to police figures, between April 15 and June 15, 991,176 text messages were sent to women for not observing the mandatory headscarf law. In that same period, 2,000 vehicles were confiscated. Since the beginning of the Iranian New Year [el 21 de marzo] As of August 2, 2,251 cases had been initiated to challenge the headscarf law, of which 825 concluded with a ruling. We have received information about the increase in repressive and retaliatory actions against women who exercise their freedom of expression in the face of the mandatory veil. For example, Yina Mahsa's relatives, who have been subjected to very serious harassment, including her father and uncle [detenido y en paradero desconocido desde el 5 de septiembre] and those who have investigated the case. These allegations have increased as the anniversary of Yina Mahsa's death approached.

Q. What do these sentences consist of?

R. We are still studying both the processes and their results. It is very difficult to obtain such information, but it is important to look at legislation in light of structural patterns of discrimination in law and practice against women and girls, identified by international human rights law. The laws seem to indicate an interest in educating women and girls, so that they understand their place in society and to what extent they can make decisions about their lives, what are the limits of their words, their own bodies and of decisions about how to dress, speak, sing or exercise the right to mourn. Some of these limits could go against the State's human rights obligations.

Q. Are you referring to the hijab and chastity bill?

A: Parliament is still considering two laws on the issue, one is the hijab and chastity law; and the other is related to discretionary punishments [categoría que se puede aplicar para castigar cualquier tipo de conducta, incluso si no está penada por otras leyes] that toughen prison sentences, which can reach up to 10 years in prison, and also corporal punishment, prohibited by International Law.

Q. The Iranian penal code already provides for 74 lashes for not wearing a veil if there is a repeat offense.

R. According to the studies carried out by the mission, if these new laws are issued, this punishment can be applied without recidivism. In the current penal code, failure to comply with that rule [del velo] It was not generally punished with lashes or such high prison sentences. The reform would strengthen penalties so that women and girls are subject to longer prison terms for mere non-compliance. They also include a series of limitations, such as a woman being placed under supervision for six months, being imposed with community service, financial penalties or being prohibited from using a vehicle or a checkbook. Therefore, we appeal for a deeper study of these legislative proposals in light of the obligations assumed by the Islamic Republic of Iran under international human rights law. From the mission we consider that there is a universal aspiration for dignity and rights that must be addressed by the Government [iraní] and the international community.

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