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September 29, 2022

Congressman Schiff Introduces Legislation to End Iran’s Human Rights Violations Against Political Prisoners

Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the Support for Iranian Political Prisoners Act, legislation demanding Iran end its human rights violations and immediately release all arbitrarily detained individuals – including peaceful protestors, political prisoners, and prisoners of conscience.

“The deaths of Mahsa Amini, Hadis Najafi, and more than 50 protestors this month in Iran are, tragically, only the most recent example of how Iran systematically retaliates and commits human rights abuses against its citizens – people who are merely exercising their fundamental freedoms as citizens of a nation bound by the United Nations and other international conventions,” said Schiff. “I have long called for these gross violations to be investigated, and it is now clear that the United States must take immediate action by holding Iran accountable, and continuing to assist organizations that are helping political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. As Americans, we must fight for freedoms at home and abroad.”

On September 13, Iran’s “Morality Police” detained 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly having visible hair under her headscarf. Amini died, following reports that she had been tortured and killed in police custody. Her death has sparked ongoing protests across Iran which have been met by violent crackdowns – more than 50 people have died, and more than a thousand have been arrested.

Schiff introduced a previous version of this bill as an amendment to the 2023 national defense funding legislation, which the House passed in July.

Specifically, the bill sets forth that:

  • Iran should allow the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran access to the country in fulfillment of its mandate;
  • Iran should immediately end violations of human rights of arbitrarily detained individuals, including peaceful protesters, and political prisoners, including torture, denial of access to health care, and denial of a fair trial;
  • All arbitrarily detained individuals, prisoners of conscience and political prisoners should be immediately released, and all diplomatic tools should be used to expedite this process;
  • Any Iranian officials who are responsible for human rights abuses related to politically motivated imprisonment should be held to account, including with sanctions.

The bill would further authorize the Secretary of State to continue to provide assistance to civil society organizations that support arbitrarily detained individuals, political prisoners, and prisoners of conscience.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

To read the full bill text, click here.