Iran protests
Iran protestsYing Tang via Reuters Connect

A fact-finding mission mandated by the United Nations said on Monday that the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran's morality police was unlawful and caused by violence, Reuters reports.

The death of 22-year-old Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, in September 2022 while in custody for allegedly flouting Iran's Islamic dress code unleashed months of protests in Iran.

"Our investigation established that her death was unlawful and caused by physical violence in the custody of state authorities," Sara Hossain, chairperson of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, as quoted by Reuters.

The fact-finding mission found the protests that followed were marked by extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and ill-treatment, as well as rape and sexual violence.

"These acts were conducted in the context of a widespread and systematic attack against women and girls, and other persons expressing support for human rights," Hossain said.

"Some of these serious violations of human rights thus rose to the level of crimes against humanity."

In response, Kazem Gharib Abadi, secretary general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, accused the fact-finding mission of a "glaring lack of independence and impartiality".

The government crackdown on the demonstrations that followed Amini’s death resulted in hundreds of people being killed, including dozens of security personnel, and thousands arrested.

Since Amini’s death, a growing number of Iranian women have been seen in public without hijab head scarves or observing the rules against clothes that are deemed too tight-fitting or otherwise revealing.

This past September, a year after Amini’s death, Iran passed new legislation stipulating that Iranian women who flout the strict Islamic dress code mandating head coverings and modest clothing would face up to 10 years' prison.

Previously, Iranian authorities announced a new campaign to force women to wear the Islamic headscarf. Following the announcement, morality police returned to the streets.