The BBC has appealed to the United Nations to protect the rights of its Iran-based journalists, who allegedly face harassment and intimidation.
BBC News has appealed to the United Nations to protect its journalists’ rights in Iran.
The complaints to the United Nations follow years of allegations of harassment and persecution by the Iranian authorities of journalists as well as their families. In 2017, the complaints had intensified compared to previous years.
The Iranian authorities opened a criminal investigation against BBC Persian Service journalists. Their alleged crime was opposition to the national security of Iran. The BBC World Service owns the foreign language services and received funds from the Foreign Office until 2014.
These facts have been questionable to the Iranian authorities. The BBC has listed a number of complaints about Iran, including arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists’ family members, passport confiscations, bans on travel and especially out of Iran, and the surveillance of the journalists’ families and the journalists themselves.
All of them connected to even further spreading of defamation and fake news. The targets, interestingly, have been female journalists. Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, explained:
…because our own attempts to persuade the Iranian authorities to end their harassment have been completely ignored…
…In fact, during the past nine years, the collective punishment of BBC Persian Service journalists and their families has worsened. This is not just about the BBC – we are not the only media organisation to have been harassed or forced to compromise when dealing with Iran.
In truth, this story is much wider: it is a story about fundamental human rights. We are now asking the community of nations at the UN to support the BBC and uphold the right to freedom of expression.
The Deputy General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, Jeremy Dear, explained that the Iranian journalists, for several years, have been suffering and forced into exile and hiding to escape punishments, even being caught and arrest, jailed and then given intimidation, routine harassment, and violence.
“Iranians now increasingly turn to the international media to find out what is happening in their own country,” Dear said, “Targeting family members in Iran in an attempt to silence journalists working in London must be stopped. The international community must act now.”
David Kaye and Asma Jahangir, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, received an urgent appeal from the BBC World Service last October. The appeal noted that the corporation’s journalists would address the Human Rights Council in a session in Geneva this week with a call for United Nations member states to act to protect the rights of BBC staff to report freely.