UN hears report of harassment of BBC journalists
13 March 2018
The NUJ and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the UN report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the government to respect freedom of expression and association.
The report was presented during the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
During the mission to Iran, the Special Rapporteur observed several limitations to access to information in the country, in particular online. “During the past three years, the government reportedly closed seven million web addresses. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the websites of human rights and political opposition groups, amongst others.”
The Special Rapporteur also received reports of the arbitrary arrests, detention and harassment of journalists, media workers and their families, including individuals working for the Persian Service of the BBC.
In a joint statement issued at the Interactive Dialogue with ECPM, a French NGO campaigning for the abolition of death penalty in the world, the IFJ drew attention to the situation of Iranian journalists and their families, including BBC Persian staff in London, and called on the international community to urge Iranian authorities to respect their rights.The statement said:
“Journalists and their families have been subjected to an escalating campaign of persecution and harassment by the Iranian authorities. The UN Special Rapporteurs David Kaye and Asma Jahangir condemned these actions and the international community must support them.”
Between 2009 and 2012, more than 30 journalists were detained, including four Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ) board members who served various prison terms, and more than 200 journalists were forced to flee the country. The office of the IFJ affiliate, the AoIJ, was closed in August 2009 on the order of the country’s prosecutor general. Families have been torn apart and the voices of critical journalists were silenced. Others who dared visit their loved ones were arrested and jailed.
After the debate, the IFJ, the NUJ and the BBC held a press conference moderated by IFJ deputy general secretary Jeremy Dear. He said:
"BBC Persian Service journalists and their families are the latest victims of Iran's attempt to silence the media. Today we are making a stand for media freedom for all those journalists detained, jailed, forced in to exile and harassed. We do so not just to fight for the rights of BBC journalists, not just for journalists in Iran but because such attempts to stifle media and attack the messenger are crucial for media freedom across the world."