UN Members Strongly Criticize Executions and Lack of Basic Freedoms in Iran
At Monday’s meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed presented his report on the situation of human rights in Iran. Following his presentation, representatives of member countries, NGOs, and the Iranian delegation offered their responses.
In the 10-minute presentation of his statement, Shaheed said he had made several requests to travel to Iran but had never received permission, despite having contacts with Iranian judiciary and foreign ministry officials.
The UN Special Rapporteur condemned the high number of executions, including many that were carried out against international law, and dismissed explanations by Iranian officials that capital punishment justifiably applied to drug-related crimes and possession.
Shaheed said the Citizenship Rights Charter proposed by the Hassan Rouhani administration was a step in the right direction but it still does not recognize the rights of all citizens. The charter also does not ban capital punishment for youth or those found guilty of less serious crimes, he added.
Statement by the Iranian representative
An Iranian diplomat official replied to Shaheed’s statements.
The Iranian diplomat said the world was facing a time of crisis and yet the Islamic Republic of Iran was still committed to carrying out its obligations with regards to UN human rights mechanisms.
He accused the UN Special Rapporteur of putting together a biased report which he wholly dismissed as “baseless” without addressing any of the documented cases of abuse.
Iran’s representative went on to criticize Shaheed for not acknowledging Iran’s achievements, including that many women are educated and present in all aspects of society.
Iran had shown its commitment to constructive dialogue, the Iranian diplomat claimed, by responding to the Human Rights Committees’ reports and setting up meetings with Shaheed in Geneva and New York despite Iran’s strong opposition to his positions.
He also accused Shaheed of bias for not paying enough attention to Iran’s recommendations and responses.
In response to criticism of the number of executions, the official said capital punishment was “only” applied to very serious crimes including murder, terrorism, kidnapping, and drug-related cases.
Statements by member countries
After the presentation by the Islamic Republic of Iran, representatives of 29 countries gave their views about Shaheed’s report.
The EU representative, as well as diplomats from Germany, Australia, Norway, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, France, Ireland, Maldives, Macedonia, UK, Italy, US, Czech Republic, Botswana, and Switzerland supported the Special Rapporteur’s mission and expressed concern about Iran’s human rights situation described in the report.
But representatives of Syria, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, China, Vietnam, Belarus, Pakistan, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea, and Burma challenged Shaheed’s country-specific mandate and insisted that Iran had made improvements in human rights.
Meanwhile the Russian representative, without taking a specific position on the report, called for greater cooperation between Iranian and UN officials.
The UNICEF representative also made a statement expressing his organizations concern about the execution of juveniles and treatment of imprisoned mothers with young children.
NGO representatives of the Baha’i community, Sudwind, and the European Center for Law and Justice, described Iran’s human rights record as seriously alarming and backed Shaheed’s mission. Meanwhile, members of several Iranian organizations accompanying the Iranian delegation criticised the UN Special Rapporteur’s report.
Finally, Shaheed responded to the questions raised concerning his report, and reiterated his concern about the lack of space for civil society, especially human rights defenders, within Iran.
He said his methodology did not encompass activities solely outside Iran. He noted that many of the victims of abuse interviewed for the report were inside Iran.
Shaheed said there was an increased spirit of cooperation in contacts with the Iranian government in recent months but the fact remains that UN officials have been barred from visiting Iran during the past nine years.