First Published: 2018-02-22

Iranian ministers presence at UN rights meeting angers critics
Avaie figures among some 100 government ministers, other dignitaries invited to address opening of UN Human Rights Councils main annual session.
Middle East Online

Avaie (L) "bears responsibility for the brutal suppression of recent protests"

GENEVA - Critics voiced outrage Thursday that Iran's justice minister will travel to Geneva next week to address the UN's top human rights body despite facing Swiss and EU sanctions over rights violations.

Alireza Avaie figures among some 100 government ministers and other dignitaries from around the world due to address the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Council's main annual session.

Brussels and Bern have slapped sanctions on him, maintaining that as Tehran's former top prosecutor he was "responsible for human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, denials of prisoners' rights and an increase in executions."

According to exiled members of the Iranian opposition, he played a key role in a 1988 massacre of political prisoners.

Amnesty International has said nearly 5,000 prisoners were executed in a matter of months, while Iranian opposition groups put the figure closer to 30,000.

"Allowing Avaie to address the Human Rights Council is disgraceful and would make a mockery of the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms," said Shahin Gobadi, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

"This must not happen," he said in an email, also insisting that as the current justice minister of Iran, Avaie "bears responsibility for the brutal suppression of recent protests" in the country.

He said a protest was planned in front of the UN headquarters in Geneva next Tuesday, when Avaie is due to speak.

- 'Exceptions exist in the EU' -

The EU sanctions bar Avaie from travel to the EU and freeze any assets he might hold in the bloc, while Swiss authorities said Thursday their sanctions against him were only financial.

"Against this background, Mr. Avaie would be allowed to travel to Switzerland to participate in a UN conference without restrictions," Isabel Herkommer, an economic affairs ministry spokeswoman, said in an email.

She added though that even if he had been facing harsher sanctions, "the competent authorities in Switzerland can grant exceptions from travel bans to allow sanctioned persons to participate in international conferences. Such exceptions equally exist in the EU."

Avaie is not on the Security Council's sanctions list, a UN spokeswoman said.

Asked for comment about his participation in such a high-profile UN human rights event, a council spokesman said the body had no role in inviting the speakers.

"We do not invite states to speak, however we do encourage wide participation from states to hear their views," Rolando Gomez said in an email.

He said Iran had requested a speaking slot during the high-level segment next week, "which we provided, and they designated the minister to speak."


Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker