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.
Insight Iran joined a group of 36 NGOs calling on the member states of the UN Human Rights Council to support the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.
March 12, 2015
To: Member States of the UN Human Rights Council
We, the undersigned human rights and civil society groups, write to you to urge your government to support the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (“the Council”).
The situation in Iran remains one of systemic human rights violations that are deeply rooted in laws, policies, and practices that require the sustained attention of the Council. Renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate will ensure that human rights in Iran remain a priority globally and for the Council. As a member of the Council, your government is entrusted with the responsibility to promote and protect human rights. This responsibility includes pressing the Iranian authorities to ensure that the people of Iran enjoy the human rights enshrined in the human rights treaties to which the country is party and to which they are entitled. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur provides an effective and constructive means for the Council to promote and protect these rights.
As your government is aware, the Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran has issued credible, thoroughly researched and well-sourced reports, although the Iranian government continues to deny him access to Iran. The reports include testimonies and other first-hand information gathered from sources inside Iran using modern technologies and information gathered from credible non-governmental organizations located outside the country. The Special Rapporteur has produced concrete recommendations for action by the Iranian government to meet its legal obligations and respect Iran’s international human rights commitments. On the international stage, these reports focus attention on a range of ongoing human rights challenges in Iran, including some of those enumerated in the enclosed Facts and Figures sheet.
The Special Rapporteur’s active engagement has encouraged and helped galvanize Iranian civil society inside and outside the country. His actions in pursuance of his mandate have contributed to the domestic debate on human rights in Iran. Most importantly, the Special Rapporteur has also provided crucial support for the work, safety and, in many cases, release of human rights defenders, lawyers and prisoners of conscience. In his reports and joint press statements with other Special Procedures, the Special Rapporteur has raised concerns over many individual cases, some of which have thereafter seen tangible improvements in state behavior. Renewing the Special Rapporteur’s mandate would send a strong message to people inside Iran that the international community continues to have concern for their rights.
Iran’s most recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which took place on 31 October 2014 and saw the international community largely reiterate recommendations that it had made to the Iranian government during the previous UPR in 2010, also underscored the value of the Special Rapporteur’s work and the importance of renewing his mandate.
We urge your government to actively participate in the upcoming interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to encourage the Iranian authorities to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, and to strongly support the renewal of his mandate as a means to contribute concretely to the promotion and the protection of human rights in Iran.
Roya Boroumand, Executive Director
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
Robin Phillips, Executive Director
The Advocates for Human Rights
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Middle East North Africa Programme
Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director
Md. Ashrafuzzaman, Liaison Officer
Asian Legal Resource Center
Alirza Quluncu, Representative
The Association for Defence of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran
Duman Radmehr, Executive Director
Association for Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran
Taimoor Aliassi, UN Representative
Association pour les Droits Humains au Kurdistan d’Iran-Genève (KMMK-G)
Diane Ala’i, Representative to the United Nations
Bahá’í International Community
Mansoor Bibak, Co-Director
Balochistan Human Rights Group
Renate Bloem, UN Geneva Representative
Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Joel Simon, Executive Director
Committee to Protect Journalists
Juana Kweitel, Program Director
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Founder and President
Center for Supporters of Human Rights
Hassan Shire, Executive Director
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director
Ensemble Contre La Peine de Mort (ECPM)
Ibrahim Al Arabi, Executive Director
European Ahwazi Human Rights Organisation
Keyvan Rafiee, Executive Director
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division
Human Rights Watch
Mani Mostofi, Director
Mohammad Nayyeri, Director
Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
Jessica Stern, Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Phil Lynch, Director
International Service for Human Rights
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Executive Director
Iran Human Rights
Saghi Ghahraman, President
Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)
Shadi Sadr, Co-Director
Justice for Iran
Tara Fatehi, Spokesperson
The Kurdistan Human Rights Network
Mehrangiz Kar, Chairperson
Siamak Pourzand Foundation
Mahmood Enayat, Director
Hassan Nayeb Hashem, Representative to the Human Rights Council in Geneva
Südwind: All Human Rights for All in Iran
Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director
United for Iran
Mohammad Mostafaei, Directeur
Shadi Amin, Coordinator
6Rang: Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network