House lawmakers call for U.N. Human Rights Council special session on Iran

A bipartisan group of 17 House members urged the State Department to support convening a special session of the U.N. on Iranian human rights abuses

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) attends the House Education and Labor Committee hearing titled Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor, in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Nearly 20 House lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to support calling a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate Iran’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on nationwide protests and broader violations of women’s rights.

Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) led 15 colleagues on a communique, which was set to be sent to Secretary of State Tony Blinken and U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Thursday, calling on the “U.S., the UN, and the international community” “to work together to shine a light on serious human rights violations in Iran.”

“A dedicated special session, which the Council has convened for other human rights emergencies but not yet for Iran, could gather independent information and reports on serious violations of human rights in Iran, and highlight abuses by security forces,” the lawmakers added. 

A special session could also create an independent investigative body to investigate Iran’s human rights abuses, the lawmakers argued, following a recommendation from the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman. 

“Current investigative and domestic accountability channels have failed to meet the minimum standards of transparency, objectivity, and impartiality,” the lawmakers argue.

“It is critical that the U.S., the international community, and the institutions intended to promote and protect human rights around the world not only continue to condemn the dire human rights situation in Iran, but also promote accountability and justice,” the letter continues.

The letter was co-signed by Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV), Grace Meng (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL).

Several of the signatories have criticized the U.N. Human Rights Council on other issues, particularly its treatment of Israel, and signed on earlier this year to legislation or letters urging the administration to work to shut down the council’s ongoing Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Holding the Tehran regime accountable for its brutal maltreatment of Iranians must be a priority for the principal UN body dedicated to defending human rights. Bipartisan House support for U.S. leadership in convening a special session of the Human Rights Council is an important reflection of the concerns of the American people for brutalized Iranians,” said Julie Fishman Rayman, AJC’s senior director, for policy and political affairs.

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