UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Presents First Report at UN Human Rights Council

Mar 14, 20120 comments

UN member states including Iran’s allies call on government to cooperate with Shaheed 

On March 12-13, 2012, UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed presented his report on the situation of human rights in Iran at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The Special Rapporteur’s 36-page report requests the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, as well as independent investigations into the violence following Iran’s disputed 2009 election and into the numerous allegations of violence against prisoners and of detainee deaths. The Rapporteur noted that “to date, a full, impartial, and independent investigation had not been conducted into allegations made during and following the presidential elections of 12 June 2009” and described violations of due process rights as “chronic, reducing the likelihood of a fair trial.” He further stated that allegations of mass executions and torture during the 1980s – raised by the Special Representative of the Commission of Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1989 – deserve to be the subject of a comprehensive international investigation. In his presentation to the Council on March 12, Dr. Shaheed highlighted three areas of concern regarding Iran’s human rights situation, namely violations dealing with due process, discriminatory practices against various segments of Iran’s population, and the right to life. He further noted that despite ongoing attempts to engage the Iranian government, authorities have yet to allow him access to the country, to engage in dialogue, or to offer meaningful cooperation. A number of UN Human Rights Council members and observer states then took the floor during an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur to share their views, concerns, and criticisms regarding the situation of human rights in Iran and the Special Rapporteur’s report. Almost 30 states shared concerns and views during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur. Well over two-thirds of the states that spoke during the interactive dialogue, including Western states and such regional powerhouses as Japan and Brazil, raised concerns about Iran’s human rights situation. Issues related to Iran’s systematic oppression of ethnic and religious minorities, discrimination against women, crackdown on human rights defenders and journalists, impunity for those complicit in rights abuses, and excessive use of the death penalty. Many concerned states also expressed regret that Iran had yet to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and urged it to do so. A smaller number of speaking states, including Pakistan, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Belarus, and Syria – all states with poor human rights records – expressed support for Iran and denounced country-specific mandates as a policy of politicization of human rights. In a welcomed development, a number of countries with strong ties to Iran encouraged the government of Iran to cooperate with Dr. Shaheed’s mandate. Ecuador, though having voted against the establishment of the mandate in 2011, appealed to Iran to cooperate with UN mechanisms. Most significantly, the Chinese delegation encouraged dialogue and cooperation between the Special Rapporteur and the Iranian government, expressing hope that Dr. Shaheed could play a constructive role in the protection and promotion of human rights in Iran. A number of key democratic states that maintain close ties with Iran withheld comment during the interactive dialogue, including India, Indonesia, Turkey, and South Korea. Most notably absent was the traditionally vocal Russia, which – like Turkey and Indonesia – withheld comment during Iran’s interactive dialogue despite speaking during discussion of the situation in Syria. UN Human Rights Council President, Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, closed this session of the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur by echoing states’ calls for Iran to cooperate. The full report is available for download here (PDF). A webcast of the Special Rapporteur’s presentation can be viewed below.

Sources http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/c/un-human-rights-council.html  http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2012/03/final-remarks-sr-id-on-situation-in-iran-31st-meeting.html  https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/hrc/HRCSessions/RegularSessions/19thSession/Pages/OralStatement.aspx?MeetingNumber=31&MeetingDate=12/03/2012