Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
A/HRC/25/55/Add.3 para 2017
Full recommendation:
The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Iran to take immediate steps to ensure that
human rights defenders are able to carry out their work in a safe and enabling environment
without fear of detention, harassment and prosecution.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), adopted by consensus by the UN
General Assembly in 1998, recognises the role of HRDs in the advancement of human rights and
requires specific measures for their protection due to their exposure to additional and specific
risks. While the Declaration is not a binding document, it articulates existing international human
rights in a context applicable to the work of HRDs. Notably, the Declaration reiterates the State’s
duty to protect the rights to freedom of expression,2 assembly3 and association4 for all, and
specifically calls on States to guarantee these rights as they are crucial for any type of human
rights work.5
Article 27 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran6 ostensibly protects the right to
freedom of peaceful assembly, so long as it is not “in violation of the fundamental principles of
Islam”. There is no clear definition or criteria that define what constitutes “fundamental
principles of Islam”, granting the State significant discretion to restrict the right of peaceful
assembly when it is considered to be in violation of these fundamental principles. Similar
restrictions can also be found under Article 2 of the Law on Political Crimes, adopted in 2016,
which stipulates that participation in an unauthorised assembly, even if it is peaceful, can
effectively be considered a political offence.7
Similarly, the right to freedom of expression, recognised under Article 24 of the Constitution is
restricted if “deemed harmful to the principles of Islam or the rights of the public”. Article 40 of
the Constitution further allows for restrictions of rights, including peaceful assembly, if their
exercise is deemed “injurious to others” or “detrimental to public interests”. Similar provisions

1

CCPR.19.2.S.1; CCPR.19.3.S.1; CCPR.21.1.S.1; CCPR.22.1.S.2
CCPR.21.1.P.1; CCPR.21.1.P.2;
CCPR.19.2.O.2; CCPR.19.2.O.5; CPPR.21.1.O.2 ; CCPR.21.1.O.3; CCPR.22.1.O.1
2
Article 19, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
3
Article 21, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
4
Article 22, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
5
OHCHR, https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/srhrdefenders/pages/declaration.aspx
6
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/constitutionenglish-1368.pdf
7
The 2016 Law on Political Crimes, available at: https://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/show/968421

1

Select target paragraph3