October 20, 2011

UN Human Rights Report on Iran Spotlights “Increasing Trend” of Violations

Ahmed ShaheedWashington, DC – Ahmed Shaheed, the UN human rights monitor on Iran, reported to the 66th session of the United Nations’ General Assembly on Wednesday that Iran has “an increasing trend of alleged violations of the fundamental rights of the people, guaranteed under international law.”

Shaheed’s  interim report highlights the arrests of political activists, journalists, lawyers, artists, students, environmentalists, juveniles, women rights activists, and members of religious minorities. 

“Reports of the continued detention of political leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, as well as their wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi, are deeply disturbing,” reads the report.

Shaheed also highlights the issue of capital punishment in Iran, stating that over 200 executions took place in 2011, with nearly half of these death sentences taking place in the month of January. Authorities also reported that officials at Vakilabad prison violated Iranian law carrying out executions without the knowledge of the prisoners’ lawyers or families, with 146 “secret executions” in 2011 thus far. 

Shaheed, who was appointed June of this year, has been denied access by Iranian officials to enter the country as part of his investigation of Iran’s human rights situation.  In the interim report to the U.N. General Assembly, Shaheed said the Islamic Republic’s inability to cooperate with his office on this issue “will continue to heighten the concern of the international community and will reduce the potential for a positive and constructive dialogue on these issues.”

The findings in Shaheed’s report are based on information obtained from various human rights organizations, first-hand accounts from witnesses, and families of detainees in Iran.  

Shaheed has met with representatives in Geneva, including the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as various international NGOs and country delegations, but has not succeeded in meeting with Ambassador Seyed Mohammad Reza Sajjadi, Iran’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The UN human rights monitor post was reestablished in March of this year.  The post had been in place since 1986, but the mandate for the position failed to be renewed in 2002.  The reestablishment of the human rights monitor was supported by a broad coalition of states at the Human Rights Council, and was strongly advocated by international human rights organizations including the Democracy Coalition Project and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and groups including the National Iranian American Council.

The human rights monitor will continue to press for permission to enter Iran’s borders to conduct a firsthand examination of the human rights situation in order to “order to develop his dialogue with the authorities and either substantiate or lay to rest, allegations of human rights violations committed within its sovereign territory.” 

The UN General Assembly is expected to act on an annual human rights resolution on Iran by the end of this year, and Shaheed will deliver his final report at the spring 2012 session of the Human Rights Council.




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