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Rights Groups Demand Withdrawal Of New Iran Cabinet Nominee Implicated In Abuses

A number of human rights groups have called on Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, to immediately withdraw his nomination of Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi for the post of Justice Minister. He is in the list of Cabinet nominees Rouhani presented to the Iranian parliament during his inauguration ceremony on August 4.

Pour-Mohammadi served as interior minister during former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first term, from 2005 until 2008. He was deputy intelligence minister from 1990 to 1999, and a deputy intelligence minister from 1990 to 1999. Rights groups have implicated him in abuses that may constitute crimes against humanity, including the executions of thousands of political dissidents in 1988 and the assassinations of several prominent dissident intellectuals in 1998. As justice minister he could play a role in influencing investigations into human rights abuses, Reporters Without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement on Thursday.

"Throughout his election campaign, Rouhani repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of the Iranian people and to address serious rights violations," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. He urged the authorities to abide by their international obligations and investigate Pour-Mohammadi's role in committing egregious rights abuses instead of installing him as justice minister. He called on the parliament to refuse to confirm him if the nomination goes forward."

Human Rights Watch, in a 2005 report, "Ministers of Murder," documented Pour-Mohammadi's direct role in the extra-judicial executions of thousands of political prisoners.

"Pour-Mohammadi's nomination would be not only a blow to all those who fight against impunity in Iran, but also one more act of humiliation for the families of the journalists and dissidents killed or tortured while he was in office,"said Lucie Morillon, head of the research department at Reporters Without Borders.

"The choice of Pour-Mohammadi for justice minister sends a terrible message regarding the new president's commitment to respecting Iran's international legal obligations," according to Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

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