February 4, 2011

Independent UN Experts Call for Moratorium on Death Penalty in Iran


UN Human Rights CouncilWashington, DC – Two independent UN experts called for Iran to halt executions on Wednesday, warning that there had been a dramatic surge in death sentences carried out in the absence of internationally recognized safeguards for fair trails.

“We call on the Iranian Government to immediately declare a moratorium on the death penalty in view of the gravity of the situation and the regular disregard of due process guarantees,” urged the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul.

Heyns emphasized that “any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a Government’s international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution.” 83 Iranians were executed in January alone, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, including at least three political activists.

Special Rapporteur Knaul also pointed out that “in many cases, people sentenced to death do not have access to legal representation and their families and lawyers are not even informed of the execution.”

Both thematic rapporteurs called on the Iranian Government to comply with its international obligations, including a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in December that called on the Iranian government to abolish halt the execution of prisoners who have had their fair trial guarantees violated.

UN thematic rapporteurs such as Heyns and Knaul are responsible for monitoring specific issues in all parts of the world.

Although there are currently country-specific UN monitors for eight countries with poor human rights records, there has not been a UN Human Rights Monitor for Iran since 2002, despite calls for one from the human rights community. NIAC and international human rights organizations have urged that the United States work with the international community to ensure that a mandate for an independent UN human rights monitor on Iran is established during the upcoming March session of the UN Human Rights Council.




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