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Iran Must Not Be Sole Investigator In Downing Of Plane: UN Rapporteur

On the anniversary of the shooting down of the Ukrainian flight PS752 by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard demanded reform of international conventions for the protection of civilian planes, saying the government that has targeted a plane should not be the sole investigator.

“The downing of Flight PS752 sadly highlights the insufficiencies of the international conventions related to air safety, both in preventing military actions against civilian planes, and in ensuring proper investigations should they occur,” Callamard said in a statement she released on Thursday, January 7.

She was referring to the Islamic Republic’s investigation process about the IRGC shooting down a Ukrainian airliner on January 8, 2020, hours after Iran fired missiles at US bases in Iraq but failed to close civilian air traffic in war-like circumstances. The plane had just taken off from Tehran's international airport with 176 people on board. There were no survivors.

Callamard also emphasized the importance of closing the airspace during military conflicts: “The international community must establish clear, explicit and unambiguous standards on when States should close airspace under their jurisdiction.”

Callamard continued: “If States are not acting responsibly to close the airspace under their jurisdiction, or restrict flights, then it is incumbent upon other States and airlines to take immediate action to restrict carriers from flying over or near a conflict zone.” 

Last year’ Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of IRGC Aerospace said he had asked “several times” for closing the airspace on civilian planes, but “due to some considerations” it never happened.

Javad Soleimani, who lost his wife on the plane, says one government official told him that the reason for not closing down the airspace to civilian planes was the IRGC officials’ concerns that it would expose the operation (the attack on American base).

Passengers and flight crew cannot be left at the mercy of States and airlines who put revenue and other motives ahead of safety. In a world of heightened military and political tensions, with a resurgence of conflicts and access to a multiplication of military-grade weapons, the current international system responsible for civilian air safety is not fit for purpose. We must act now to prevent future incidents and save lives,” she added.

Callamard recommended that when a civilian aircraft is attacked militarily, the “state that launched the military attack is not solely in charge of the investigation” and countries with civilians involved in an incident “should have full status as participants in the investigation, because of their obvious State interest.”

After the attack last year, the state media and some officials initially claimed that the crash was due to a technical malfunction and rejected the US claim about the IRGC shooting down the plane as delusional and a propaganda war.

Days later the IRGC was forced to take responsibility for shooting down the plane with two missiles.


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