Two UN experts stated that Iran committed numerous violations of human rights by downing PS752 flight of Ukraine International Airlines and after the deadly crash as the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reported.
“The inconsistencies in the official explanations seem designed to create a maximum of confusion and a minimum of clarity. They seem contrived to mislead and bewilder," Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard stated in her 45-page official letter to Iran.
Talking about the mistakes admitted by Iran, she mentioned reckless disregard for standard procedures and for the principles of precaution, which should have been implemented to the fullest given the circumstances and the location of the missile unit in the proximity of a civilian airfield.
“Following a six months-long inquiry into the killing of the 176 persons on board the flight, in December 2020 I sent the Iranian Government detailed observations and questions about the circumstances of the strike. I have not yet received a response," Callamard said.
Moreover, her letter to Tehran states numerous violations of the international law from the side of the Iranian authorities, first of all, violation of the right for life of 176 passengers and crew members of the downed plane.
“In situations of high military tension, the most effective means to prevent attacks on civil aviation is to close the airspace. Had Iran, knowing full well that hostilities with the US could readily escalate, closed its airspace for civilian traffic that evening, 176 human beings would not have been killed,” the UN expert underlined.
According to her, there are many inconsistencies in the explanations of the Iranian authorities on how IRGC TOR Unit struck the civilian flight.
The letter describes the inconsistencies in detail:
- Iran alleges that an error in the alignment of the mobile missile unit contributed to the mistaken targeting, but it has not provided any explanation as to why this radar miscalibration occurred, why it had not been detected, and how it led to the targeting.
- Iran did not explain why the IRGC failed to follow the most basic standard procedures, such as monitoring altitude, climb or descent rate and airspeed to evaluate unknown radar tracks, evaluating the target's size, or checking the target visually.
- Even without an Identification Friend or Foe system in the unit itself, failsafe measures should have been instituted to ensure that transponder or other tracking data was accurately and promptly provided to the mobile missile system crew. Iran failed to explain how information about cleared civilian flights was communicated to IRGC units, a critical step to ensure the safety of civilian aircraft and one that clearly failed.
- Contrary to the IRGC Aerospace Force Commander allegation that the unit had only 10 seconds to decide to fire, it would appear that the unit had at least a 45-second decision window and possibly more time to evaluate the target.
- No information is provided on why other flights that took off that night, before PS752, were not targeted.
It was compounded by the Iranian Government's refusal, over three days, to admit that the plane had been shot down by its military; however, high-level officials were urgently informed about the incident.
"Instead of opening a proper investigation, the authorities allowed the crash site to be looted and then bulldozed, hampering the collection of evidence and depriving families of irreplaceable mementoes of those whom they had lost," Callamard said.
The investigation of the Iranian authorities also disregarded the responsibility of high-level officials. The government of Iran states that it has nothing to conceal but it did not held comprehensive and transparent investigation in accordance with its international commitments. As a result of it, many issues are not solved.
It is still unclear why this flight became the target, while other planes at this route avoided the attack.
Moreover, the Iranian government did not fulfill its commitments toward the respect for the remains of the deceased, including by its disrespectful handling of the crash site, its efforts to obstruct family wishes to repatriate remains; by its interference with private burials.
All this is compounded by entirely unacceptable harassment and threats against some family members.
The independent experts appointed by the UN Council on Human Rights also wrote letters in February 2020 to the Iranian authorities and expressed concern over Iran’s response to protests that appeared after the air crash. The authorities of Iran held extra force use and deliberate detentions.
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Javaid Rehman raised the issue in his report to the General Assembly in October 2020. He also raised his concerns regarding harassment, including death threats, of the families seeking justice for the victims of Flight PS752 in his latest report to the Human Rights Council.
As we reported earlier, on January 8, Boeing 737 of Ukraine's International Airlines (PS 752 flight) with 176 passengers aboard crashed in Tehran, not far from Imam Khomeini airport.
11 citizens of Ukraine died in the crash. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported that the passenger plane crash in the Iranian capital had left no survivors.
On the morning of Saturday, January 11, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces announced that a missile launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards military center hit the Ukrainian Boeing 737 plane.
The results of the decryption of information from the aircraft's flight recorders carried out in France confirmed that the disaster was the result of a missile attack.
On February 20, the Iranian Military Prosecutor's Office announced the completion of the investigation into the downing of Ukraine International Airlines plane.