Today, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) Dr. Ahmed Shaheed formally presented his latest report to the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Dr. Shaheed expressed deep concerns over the alarmingly high rate of executions, gender inequality and governmental plans affecting women’s rights, independence of the legal practice, situation of ethnic and religious minorities, and suppression of activists, journalists, and internet users.
Dr. Shaheed indicated that at least 753 people were believed to have been executed in Iran last year, the highest number since 2002, around half of them for drug-related crimes. He also indicated that 13 juveniles had been executed in 2014 alone.
He urged Iranian authorities to rescind capital punishment for drug offences and juveniles in line with international law, and to uphold fair trial standards. He also pointed out that he had been barred from visiting Iran during the past four years. He reiterated his request for a visit to Iran. Dr. Shaheed’s full report can be read here.
Dr. Shaheed’s presentation was welcomed quite a few number of member states in the inter-active dialogue that followed, including by the European Union (EU), France, Italy, the United States, and United Kingdom, among others.
Member states shared concerns regarding the status of political activists and prisoners of conscience (Australia), human rights defenders and drug related executions (Norway), unclear fate of child offender Saman Nasim (Ntherlands) and women’s right and reproductive plans (UK).
Furthermore, several member states including France, Denmark, and Germany joined Dr. Shaheed in expressing concern regarding the conditions faced by religious minorities including Baha’is.
The IRI and a number of states including Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela criticized the UN special procedures in general and the mandate of the Special rapporteur on Iran in particular. Syria called for the Council not to renew the mandate and Belarus urged the council to turn their back to this process.
The IRI expressed the belief that the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate was motivated by the political goals and that the Special Rapporteur should have looked at the half full of the glass.
NGO representatives of the Baha’i community, Sudwind, and International Educational Development described Iran’s human rights record as alarming and backed Dr. Shaheed’s report.
Meanwhile, members of two Iranian organizations accompanying the Iranian delegation criticised the UN Special Rapporteur’s report and suggested, for example, that drug offences should be recognized as serious crimes under international law. This in itself implied an agreement that under current international standards, drug offences do not meet the standard of the most serious crimes and the IRI violates international law by imposing the death penalty for this category of crimes.
Finally, Dr. Shaheed responded to the questions raised concerning his report, and reiterated his concern about high rate of executions particularly for drug related offences which has proved ineffective, including in reducing the number of drug addicts in Iran.
The report comes at a time when the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran will be decided only three days later on Thursday, 19th March.
On 27th March member states will vote on a resolution calling for the renewal of Dr. Shaheed’s mandate for a fifth consecutive year. 36 NGOs have called on the member states of the UN Human Rights Council to support the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. Read the joint letter here.