A UN special rapporteur has accused Iran of misleading denials and inadequate investigations after the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport in January 2020.
Agnes Callamard, a special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, said in a 45-page letter on the findings of a six-month inquiry on February 23 that “Iran committed multiple human rights violations in shooting down Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 and in the aftermath of the deadly attack.”
“The inconsistencies in the official explanations seem designed to create a maximum of confusion and a minimum of clarity,” Callamard said in the text, which was reportedly delivered to Iranian officials two months ago. “They seem contrived to mislead and bewilder.”
After days of official denials following the crash, Iran admitted that its forces had inadvertently shot down the Kyiv-bound plane, killing all 176 people on board, after firing two missiles amid heightened tensions with the United States.
But Iran’s civilian aviation authority in its final report from July 2020 cited “human error,” saying a broken radar system created communication problems with a military unit.
“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 are left unresolved,” the UN rapporteur said.
The majority of the victims were Iranians and Canadians, but Afghans, Britons, Swedes, and Ukrainians were also among the dead.
Ukraine said last month in connection with the first anniversary of the tragedy that all five of those governments would “hold Iran to account to deliver justice and make sure Iran makes full reparations to the families of the victims and affected countries.”
Iran announced in December 2020 that the government had allocated $150,000 for the families of each of the victims — an offer rejected by the Ukrainian and Canadian governments, as well as some of the families of the victims, who see it as an attempt to close the case and escape accountability.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) marked the anniversary of the crash by accusing Iranian authorities of harassing and intimidating the victims’ families instead of conducting a “transparent and credible” investigation.
Flight 752 was downed the same night that Iran launched a ballistic-missile attack that targeted U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Tehran’s air defenses were on high alert in case of retaliation.
Iran’s missile attack was in response to a U.S. drone strike that killed the powerful commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Major General Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad five days earlier.