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UN calls for probe into Mahsa Amini death

September 20, 2022

Amini was arrested by the morality police for not wearing a hijab. The acting UN high commissioner for human rights, Nada Al-Nashif, called on Iranian authorities to stop policing what women wear in public.

A portrait of Mahsa Amini
The death of Mahsa Amini while in custody has sparked global outcryImage: Social Networks/ZUMA/picture alliance

A top United Nations official has called for an independent investigation into the death of an Iranian woman who died while in the custody of the country's controversial morality police.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from Saqez in western Iran, collapsed in a police station last week after she had been detained by the country's morality police who enforce a strict dress code for women. Her family alleges she had been mistreated by law enforcement officers.

"Mahsa Amini's tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth,'' said Nada Al-Nashif, the acting UN high commissioner for human rights.

"The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules," Nashif added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke with Amini's family on Sunday and has ordered a full investigation into her death.

Calls for more footage to be released

The incident sparked outrage and protests across the country, including in Tehran

Authorities released security camera footage on Friday which appears to show Amini arguing with another woman about her clothes before collapsing inside the police station — which officials blamed on a heart attack.

Her family said she had no history of illness. Relatives said witnesses saw her being shoved inside a police car. 

"I asked for access to [videos] from cameras inside the car as well as the courtyard of the police station, but they gave no answer," her father Amjad Amini told a local news website.

Iranians protest death of woman in custody

US says Iran should allow protests

The death of Amini and the ensuing global outcry come as the United States and other powers attempt to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Amini "should be alive today.''

"Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her," he said in a tweet on Tuesday. "We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protest."

zc/wmr (AP, AFP, Reuters)