Concern about banning of Iranian human rights organisation

[22 August 2006] - CIVICUS expresses concern about intimidating and threatening actions of the Iranian authorities that endanger the existence of civil society in the country.

Although 2006 is the 30th anniversary of Iran’s ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees freedom of association, recent government actions are in clear violation of this Covenant, as well as of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Iran’s own constitution.  

Threats to Kanoon Modafean Hogooge Bashar (the Defender of Human Rights Centre), headed by 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, are of particular concern. DHRC is one of Iran’s most active human rights organisations, providing free legal representation to prisoners of conscience and support to their families, and reporting on human rights violations occurring in detention facilities. Attempts to intimidate the Centre and its members include claims that DHRC is operating illegally, threats to prosecute its members and arbitrary detention of members. Such actions violate Iran’s international human rights obligations and must be stopped immediately.

Civil society organisations such as DHRC play a legitimate and important role in Iranian society and their work must be supported, not stifled. Authorities have claimed that DHRC has not obtained the proper permit, however the Iranian constitution states that non-governmental organisations operating peacefully and within the law are not required to obtain permission.

CIVICUS calls upon the Iranian authorities to:

  • Guarantee that the DHRC and its members can continue their work without hindrance, in compliance with the Constitution, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • Refrain from any harassment, including legal action, that stifles civic space and restrict the legitimate work of civil society activists exercising their fundamental rights to expression, assembly and association.

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