Thursday, June 22, 2006

Human Rights Watch calls for the removal of Iranian torturer from U.N. delegation

Human Rights Watch-Iran should immediately remove Tehran’s notoriously abusive prosecutor general from its delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Human Rights Watch said today. The prosecutor general, Saeed Mortazavi has been implicated in torture, illegal detention, and coercing false confessions by numerous former prisoners.

...In April 2000, Mortazavi, then the judge of Public Court Branch 1410, led a massive crackdown to silence growing dissent in Iran. He ordered the closure of more than 100 newspapers and journals. In 2003, he was promoted to the post of Tehran’s prosecutor general. In 2002, a human rights expert appointed by the old U.N. Commission on Human Rights to monitor the human rights situation in Iran took the extraordinary step of naming Mortazavi publicly in his report and calling for him to be suspended from the bench.

Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in June 2003 while in the custody of judiciary and security agents led by Mortazavi. Lawyers representing Kazemi’s family have alleged that her body showed signs of torture, including blows to her head, and that Mortazavi participated directly in her interrogation.

In 2004, Mortazavi orchestrated the arbitrary detention of more than 20 webloggers and internet journalists, who were held in secret prisons. Human Rights Watch collected testimonies from several of these detainees who implicated Mortazavi in their ordeal, which included lengthy solitary confinement and coercion to make false televised confessions.

For further information on Mortazavi, please see: Essential Background:

Overview of human rights issues in Iran http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/iran12214.htm

"Like the Dead in Their Coffins: Torture, Detention, and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran
http://hrw.org/reports/2004/iran0604

False Freedom: Online Censorship in the Middle East and North Africa
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/mena1105

Iran: Judiciary Uses Coercion to Cover Up Torture
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/12/17/iran9913.htm

Iran: Journalists Receive Death Threats After Testifying http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/06/iran9948.htm

More...