Asma Jahangir, the last UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, died in February. (Flickr/ Jean-Marc Ferré / CC)
Asma Jahangir, the last UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, died in February. (Flickr/ Jean-Marc Ferré / CC)

Forty-six Iranian and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called for the renewal of the mandate of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

The NGOs addressed a joint letter to all diplomatic missions attending the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, as the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran reports.

The letter comes just a month after the death of the Pakistani woman most recently in the role, Asma Jahangir. During her tenure, Jahangir criticised the long jail sentences given to several Iranian converts to Christianity, and the lack of healthcare provision for those detained.

The letter said Jahangir’s mandate “had proved vital for the advancement of human rights in Iran and yielded important gains”.

It said the Iranian authorities have “consistently failed” to implement reforms for women, children, minorities and the LGBT community. No action has been taken, it said, to improve the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, religion or belief, nor protection from torture and other ill-treatment.

The letter also called into question the government’s response to the recent protests, when its use of firearms resulted in at least 25 deaths. Thousands of protesters were arrested, many of whom still remain in prison, it noted.

It also noted that since December, more than 35 women have been arrested in the capital, Tehran, alone for protesting against the compulsory Islamic dress code, while hundreds of journalists, political dissidents, artists, members of religious and ethnic minorities, and human rights activists are currently imprisoned for practising their right to freedom of expression.

The letter noted that Iran is among the top executioners in the world and continues to use the death penalty for individuals who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were convicted. At least five such executions took place in 2017, it noted.

The letter said that the role of the rapporteur has attracted the attention of the international community to the situation of human right in Iran, amplified the voices of victims of human rights abuses, and stimulated debate within Iran.

By voting for the continuation of the mandate, the governments of those diplomatic missions will send a “strong signal” to the Iranian authorities that the international community requires “tangible improvements” on human rights issues, the statement concluded.

The 46 organisations that signed the letter include Amnesty International, Article 18, the Center for Human Rights in Iran, Freedom House, and Human Rights Watch.

Full list of signatories:

Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

The Advocates for Human Rights

All Human Rights for All in Iran

Amnesty International

Arseh Sevom

Article 18



Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran (AHRAZ)

Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)

Balochistan Human Rights Group

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Center for Supporters of Human Rights

Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)

European Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation (EAHRO)

Freedom from Torture

Freedom House

Freedom Now

Gulf Center for Human Rights

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI)

Human Rights Watch

Impact Iran

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Iran Human Rights

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)

Justice for Iran

Kurdistan Human Rights Network

Minority Rights Group International

OutRight Action International


Siamak Pourzand Foundation

Small Media

United for Iran

West African Human Rights Defenders’ Network

World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

6Rang – Iranian Lesbian & Transgender Network