British-Pakistani Javaid Rehman appointed UN special rapporteur on human rights

British-Pakistani Javaid Rehman has been appointed as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.

A legal scholar, Rehman obtained his initial education from Pakistan but continued his law studies in the United Kingdom where he became a professor of law and led Brunel’s Law School. He is also a scholar of international and Islamic law and considered an expert on terrorism. He has previously worked with the UN for protecting minorities and banning torture.

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On the last day of its 38th session, the UN Human Rights Council selected Rehman as the successor for late Asma Jahangir, the renowned human rights activist who passed away in February due to a cardiac arrest. The council selected Rehman from among 14 applicants for the position. None of the council members objected to his appointment, reported Radio Farda‘s Mahtab Vahidi Rad from Geneva.

In 2011, two years after the brutal suppression of protests against the controversial re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president, the UNHRC established the position of a special rapporteur to monitor the human rights situation in Iran and report back to the council.

Maldivian diplomat Ahmed Shahid was the first appointee, succeeded by Jahangir, and now Rehman occupies the seat. Iran was opposed to the appointment of a special rapporteur from the beginning and never allowed them to travel to the country. Tehran has been arguing that the human rights situation in Iran is normal and does not need special international attention.

However, the previous rapporteurs have submitted several critical reports on systematic human rights violations by the Iranian regime. Three years after the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president, Jahangir wrote in her report in 2017: “The Special Rapporteur regrets that the information she received did not reveal any notable improvement in the situation of human rights in the country.”

“The situation relating to the independence of judges and lawyers, freedom of expression and use of arbitrary detention continue to be a matter of serious concern,” she added. Jahangir said that “profound legal and structural changes are required for any significant improvement of the human rights situation to take place” in Iran.

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Iran always denounced the special rapporteur’s reports as ‘biased’, ‘falsified’ and ‘full of errors’. In April 2017, Iranian state media even accused Jahangir of receiving bribes from Saudi Arabia to make reports against Iran. Jahangir denied the accusations vehemently and said: “I am appalled by this fabricated and malicious news story which is clearly aimed at compromising my integrity and independence, both of which are recognised internationally.”

This article originally appeared in Radio Farda.

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