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e-2530 (Civil and human rights)

Initiated by Najmieh Rad from Waterloo, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • In November 2019, nationwide protests were sparked in Iran after the government announced a huge rise in petrol prices;
  • Security forces crushed the protests using lethal force, shooting and probably killing hundreds of people, and injuring thousands of others;
  • The authorities have arrested thousands of protesters as well as journalists, students and human rights defenders to stop them from speaking out about Iran’s ruthless repression;
  • Detainees have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Many are being denied access to their families and lawyers;
  • Mass arrests across the country are a warning sign; and
  • They point to the imminent risk of further violations of due process and fair trial standards.
We, the undersigned, residents of province of Ontario, call upon the Government of Canada to urge the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to convene a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) with the aim of conducting an independent inquiry into the allegations of grave human rights violations against prisoners, detainees, and others, including unlawful killings, torture and enforced disappearances, that have taken place in the Islamic Republic of Iran since 15 November 15, 2019.
This inquiry requires Iran to give unrestricted access to detainees, prisoners, and other affected parties and to allow the inquiry to monitor trials. Based on these findings, the Human Rights Council should apply pressure on Iran to ensure Iran upholds its international human rights obligations and bring those responsible for serious human rights violations to justice.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

Canada is a strong supporter of the international human rights system and of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), which promotes and protects human rights around the globe. Through dedicated resolutions, the HRC has urged Iran to uphold its international and domestic obligations to protect and promote the fundamental human rights of its people. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, who is mandated by the HRC, submitted his latest report on Iran on July 21, 2020. In the report, the Special Rapporteur detailed observations concerning patterns, trends and progress made in the protection of human rights, including the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association and assembly. In particular, the report included a section on the November 2019 protests, highlighting the excessive use of force by Iranian security forces; lack of investigation and accountability; and human rights violations in the arrest and detention of protesters. The report also detailed human rights concerns related to general conditions of detention in the country.

Additionally, on October 6, 2020, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed deep concern at the deteriorating situation of human rights defenders, lawyers and political prisoners held in Iran's prisons, and called on the authorities to release them in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The High Commissioner expressed her concern about the persistent and systematic targeting of individuals who express any dissenting view, and the criminalization of the exercise of fundamental rights. She compellingly stated: "I urge the Iranian Government to review, in light of Iran's international legal obligations -- including the right to a fair trial -- all sentences of people detained without sufficient legal basis. And I call for the unconditional release of human rights defenders, lawyers, political prisoners, peaceful protesters and all other individuals deprived of their liberty for expressing their views or otherwise exercising their rights.”

In addition to its three regular annual sessions, the HRC can hold special sessions to address specific situations regarding gross violations of human rights. In order to do so, one third of the Member States of the HRC must be in agreement. As Canada is not currently a member of the HRC, it could not vote on this decision. However, with the HRC and in additional forums, Canada is a strong advocate for accountability and the protection and promotion of all human rights remains a central feature of Canada’s foreign policy.

At the 45th session of the HRC (14 September to 7 October 2020), Canada joined a statement on Iran that was supported by 47 delegations. The statement highlighted concerns about the persistent human rights violations in Iran especially related to the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The statement also noted concerns of arbitrary detentions, unfair trials, forced confessions and practices of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the context of the recent protests. The delegations also called on Iran to immediately release those who are arbitrarily detained and to ensure the independence of the judicial system, the rules of fair trial, the right to defense and access to a freely chosen lawyer. 

In December 2019, in advance of the 43rd session of the HRC, the Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva hosted a briefing session with presenters from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Impact Iran on human rights violations in Iran.

Additionally, in November 2019 Canada provided an intervention at the third cycle of Iran’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR, led by the HRC, is a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States and provides an opportunity for all States to declare actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. Among its recommendations, Canada recommended that Iran ensure freedom from torture for those in detention.

Canada is strongly committed to upholding respect for human rights and is deeply concerned by the violent crackdown on protestors by the Iranian security forces in November 2019. Global Affairs Canada issued a statement on November 26, 2019, condemning the violent crackdown by Iranian authorities, including threats made by Iranian officials and the deliberate use of excessive force by Iranian security forces, and urged authorities to exercise restraint. Canada will continue to work with international partners to hold Iran accountable and leads the annual resolution on human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly since 2003. It voices support for the people of Iran in their struggle to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which they are entitled. The UN General Assembly Third Committee adopted the latest resolution in December 2019, and for the 18th time, Canada is again leading on the Resolution for 2020. Among the recommendations made, the resolution calls on Iran to release persons detained for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those who have been detained solely for taking part in peaceful protests. It also calls on Iran to launch a comprehensive accountability process in response to all cases of serious human rights violations, including allegations of excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, and to end impunity for such violations.

Canada also routinely speaks out on specific cases by drawing international attention to them to indicate that Canada and the global community are monitoring the cases. For example, Canada has issued the following tweets through the Canadian Foreign Policy account (@CanadaFP) and the account of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau).

  • September 20, 2020: Canada strongly condemns the imprisonment of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer and women’s rights leader. Her sentence and treatment are unacceptable, and we call on Iran to release her immediately - defending human rights is not a crime. (via @JustinTrudeau).
  • September 14, 2020: Canada strongly condemns the execution of Navid Afkari in Iran. The death penalty is a cruel form of punishment that violates #HumanRights, and Canada opposes it in all forms and under all circumstances. (via @CanadaFP).
  • July 23, 2020: Canada welcomes confirmation that the analysis of Flight #PS752’s recorders is now complete. We expect #Iran to conduct a full, credible and transparent investigation. (@CanadaFP).

Mar 19, 2018: Iran must allow Maryam Mombeini to leave the country and travel to Canada to be with her family - and the regime must provide answers in the death of her husband, Kavous Seyed-Emami, in Evin prison. (via @JustinTrudeau).

Open for signature
April 30, 2020, at 2:10 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 28, 2020, at 2:10 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Marwan Tabbara (Kitchener South—Hespeler)
October 1, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00049)
Government response tabled
November 16, 2020
Photo - Marwan Tabbara
Kitchener South—Hespeler
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