UN / CALLAMARD IRAN PS752 FLIGHT ATTACK

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23-Feb-2021 00:04:18
Iran committed multiple human rights violations in shooting down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 that killed all of the 176 passengers and crew onboard, as well as in the aftermath of the deadly attack, according to a UN Human Rights expert. UNIFEED

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UN / CALLAMARD IRAN PS752 FLIGHT ATTACK
TRT: 4:18
SOURCE: UNIFEED
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 23 FEBRUARY 2021, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE

1. Exterior shot, UN Headquarters

23 FEBRUARY 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room
SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:
“Inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and gaps in the official explanation create a maximum of confusion and thus seem to be contrived to mislead in one or more ways. As for the admitted mistake, this indicate a reckless, if not criminal disregard for standard procedures, and a principle of precaution, which should have been implemented to the fullest, given the circumstances, and the location of the unit.”
3. Wide shot, press room
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:
“The IRPG, and the Iranian state more generally, were, or should have been aware that its airspace was not safe for civil aviation. In view of the context, the failure to close Iran’s airspace, in my opinion, amount to a failure to protect under international human rights law.”
5. Wide shot, press room
6.SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:
“I undertook six months long inquiry into the killings of those onboard PS752. And in December last year, I wrote to the Iranian government detailing my observation and posing questions about the strike. I have yet to receive a response.”
7. Multiscreen with reporters
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:
“The authorities failed to investigate the strike in line with international standards. The investigation was not prompt. For three days after the killings, the government of Iran continued to deny that the flight had been shut down and insisted instead that the crash was caused by fire. However, information as to us as being provided that high level officials, knew within a matter of hours that the flight had been hit by a missile fired by an Iranian crew. It also appears that evidence was destroyed and not protected well as it could have been. There are allegations that bulldozers were used at the site, and that the crash loan was not protected from looters.”
9. Wide shot, press room
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:
“The investigation itself has not been thorough or effective. It thus far as failed to consider the chain of command to explain why the airport was not closed to explain why a no no-flight notice to air traffic was issued. Why adequate measures were not put in place to ensure that civil aviation was protected. Even investigation reports, only provide limited and selected information regarding the tragic event.”
11. Wide shot, press room
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:
“I have found no concrete evidence that the targeting of that particular civilian plane was intentional and premeditated. However, the inconsistencies in the official explanation and the reckless nature of the mistakes have led many including myself to question whether the downing of flight PS752 was intentional. The information released, thus far makes it impossible to answer many basic questions and clarify conjectures. Without answers, suspicion that civilians were intentionally targeted will remain. The question of intentionality does need to be further investigated including by the Iranian themselves, and they have not proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the plan was not intentionally targeted.”
13. Wide shot, press room

STORYLINE:

Iran committed multiple human rights violations in shooting down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 that killed all of the 176 passengers and crew onboard, as well as in the aftermath of the deadly attack, according to a UN Human Rights expert.

“Inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and gaps in the official explanation create a maximum of confusion and thus seem to be contrived to mislead in one or more ways,” Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday (23 Feb).

“As for the admitted mistakes, these indicate a reckless, if not criminal disregard for standard procedures, and a principle of precaution, which should have been implemented to the fullest, given the circumstances, and the location of the unit,” Callamard said.

On 8 January 2020, an Iran Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) air defence TOR unit fired two missiles at the Ukrainian plane en route from Tehran to Kiev, killing all those on board. The strike took place in the context of heightened tensions following the United States' targeted killing of Iran's General Soleimani a few days earlier in Iraq and Iran's subsequent retaliations on US bases in that country.

“I undertook six months long inquiry into the killings of those onboard PS752. And in December last year, I wrote to the Iranian government detailing my observation and posing questions about the strike. I have yet to receive a response.”
Callamard said.

The 45-page letter, highlighting multiple violations of international law by the Iranian authorities, most crucially violations of the right to life of the 176 passengers and crew, remained confidential for 60 days in accordance with Human Rights Council policy for such communications to States.

“The authorities failed to investigate the strike in line with international standards. The investigation was not prompt. For three days after the killings, the government of Iran continued to deny that the flight had been shut down and insisted instead that the crash was caused by fire,” Callamard said.

According to the Iranian investigation, flight PS752 was intentionally but mistakenly targeted by IRGC military personnel, who mistook the civilian aircraft for an incoming US missile that posed an imminent threat.

However, Callamard’s report suggests that “high level officials, knew within a matter of hours that the flight had been hit by a missile fired by an Iranian crew. It also appears that evidence was destroyed and not protected well as it could have been. There are allegations that bulldozers were used at the site, and that the crash loan was not protected from looters.”

Callamard's letter detailed a large number of contradictions with Iran's explanations, including the fact that 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 also 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. Those failures were further compounded by the Iranian Government's refusal, over three days, to admit that the plane had been shot down by its military, even though high placed authorities knew almost immediately what had occurred.

“The investigation itself has not been thorough or effective,” Callamard said. “It thus far as failed to consider the chain of command to explain why the airport was not closed to explain why a no no-flight notice to air traffic was issued. Why adequate measures were not put in place to ensure that civil aviation was protected. Even investigation reports, only provide limited and selected information regarding the tragic event.”

"The Iranian Government claims it has nothing to hide, yet it has failed to carry out a full and transparent investigation in line with its international obligations. As a result, many questions, including the “question of intentionality” are left unresolved.

“I have found no concrete evidence that the targeting of that particular civilian plane was intentional and premeditated,” Callamard said. “However, the inconsistencies in the official explanation and the reckless nature of the mistakes have led many including myself to question whether the downing of flight PS752 was intentional.”

In her opinion, the Iranian authorities “have not proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the plan was not intentionally targeted.”

Independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council also wrote to the Iranian authorities in February 2020 raising their concerns about Iran's response to protests against the attack, which were met by excessive use of force and arbitrary detention. Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 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.

Callamard previously issued a statement detailing a range of recommendations to the international community to strengthen the safety of civilian aircraft in conflict zones.
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