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Amnesty International

UN bodies shine light on ongoing degradation of human rights situation

Amnesty International
November 7, 2011
Official document

Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to fully implement the recent

recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the body charged with

overseeing implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to

which Iran is a state party. The Concluding Observations follow two recent UN reports highlighting

human rights violations in Iran: the report by the UN Secretary General to the UN General

Assembly published on 15 September 2011(1) and the interim report of the newly-appointed

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, published on

23 September(2).

These three documents give compelling evidence of the gravity of the human rights situation and

contradict the Iranian authorities’ frequent denials – including in its report to the Human Rights

Committee - that there are any human rights violations in the country and that claims to the

contrary are politically motivated. As all three documents highlight, there is an urgent need for

judicial, legal and policy reform to reverse the ongoing rapid downward spiral of the human rights

situation.

Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to demonstrate that they are fully committed

to cooperating with the international community in improving the human rights situation in Iran by

implementing the recommendations and meeting the requests of all three bodies as a matter of

urgency. The organization warned that one appearance before the Human Rights Committee –

coming as it does after a break of 18 years and where the delegates failed to acknowledge the

gravity of the problem - and the planned visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

does not constitute full cooperation. In fact, none of the thematic UN human rights mechanisms

has been permitted to visit the country since 2005, despite a standing invitation issued to the

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Iranian authorities have also publicly stated

that the Special Rapporteur on Iran – appointed in February 2011 - will not be granted access to

the country.

Amnesty International is also calling on the international community not to allow such patchy

cooperation to deflect attention from the need to press the Iranian authorities to make visible

improvements in the human rights record of the country. This comes at a time when the Iranian

authorities are not only discussing several pieces of new legislation which will further restrict basic

freedoms, but are also continuing to arrest, imprison and flog lawyers, human and women’s rights

activists, students, journalists, bloggers, political activists, members of ethnic and religious

minorities, trade unionists and film industry workers for the peaceful exercise of their human

rights. Regular reporting by the Secretary General and the Special Rapporteur on Iran to the UN

General Assembly and the Human Rights Council must be maintained and pressure placed upon

the Iranian authorities to grant access to the Special Rapporteur on Iran and other relevant

thematic mechanisms which have requested visits. Regular international monitoring is essential

as a first step towards concrete improvements on the ground.

Background

The Human Rights Committee’s Concluding Observations were published on 3 November 2011

following the Committee’s review of Iran’s implementation of the ICCPR at a meeting with

representatives of the Iranian Government held in Geneva on 17 and 18 October 2011. Members

of the Committee afterwards stated that the Iranian delegation had failed to fully engage in the

process and had avoided responding to the Committee’s questioning.

In its Concluding Observations, the Committee raised concern at the failure of the Iranian

authorities to comply with the ICCPR in several areas, including in relation to discrimination

against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and ethnic and religious

minorities; domestic violence; the ongoing high level of executions, including of juvenile offenders

and in public, as well as executions by stoning; torture and other ill-treatment, including cruel

punishments such as flogging and amputation; arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, and

other shortcomings in the administration of justice resulting in unfair trials, including a lack of

independence of the judiciary; violations of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities; and

undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

The Committee also made many specific recommendations to the Iranian authorities to address

these concerns, which, if implemented, would do much to improve the human rights situation in

the country.

For example, on the death penalty, the Committee recommended:

• That the authorities should consider abolishing the death penalty, and that they should end

public executions, the use of stoning and the execution of juvenile offenders – those convicted

of an offence while under the age of 18.

On torture and other ill-treatment:

• That the authorities should open an inquiry into each case of alleged torture and or other illtreatment and bring perpetrators to justice,

• That a system of regular and genuinely independent monitoring of all places of detention be

set up.

On discrimination:

• That legislation and policies should be amended which discriminate against, or allow the

persecution of, women, the LGBT community and members of religious and ethnic minorities.

On freedom of expression, association and assembly

• That journalists, students, teachers, human rights defenders (including women’s rights

activists), lawyers and trade unionists imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of these rights be

released,

• that independent media can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion and that

monitoring the internet does not unduly restrict freedom of expression and privacy, • that the draft Bill on the Establishment and Supervision of Non-Governmental Organizations’

Activities – which would eliminate independent NGOs if passed by parliament - be withdrawn,

• That freedom of assembly is guaranteed to all without discrimination.

The Committee’s concluding observations are available at:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/CCPR.C.IRN.CO.3.doc.

Ahead of the Committee’s review of Iran, Amnesty International submitted a comprehensive

briefing to the Committee detailing some of the organization’s concerns regarding the human

rights situation in the country. See: Iran: Submission to the Human Rights Committee for the

103rd session of the Human Rights Committee, 17 October – 4 November 2011, (Index: MDE

13/081/2011), 21 September 2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/081/2011/en.

In his report to the General Assembly, the UN Secretary General said that he had been “deeply

troubled by reports of increased numbers of executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and

detention, unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment and, in particular, the crackdown on human rights

activists, lawyers, journalists and opposition activists”. He presented information on a wide range

of human rights violations relating to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or

punishment, including flogging and amputation; the death penalty including public executions,

the execution of juvenile offenders and stoning; women’s rights; the rights of minorities; and

undue restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion and

expression; and lack of due process rights. He encouraged the Iranian Government to address his

concerns and the specific calls for action found in previous resolutions of the General Assembly

and in the Universal Periodic Review process, particularly with respect to human rights lawyers

and activists; on the use of the death penalty; and cooperation with international human rights

mechanisms.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran’s interim report to the General Assembly pointed to a “pattern

of systemic violations of … human rights [including] multifarious deficits in relation to the

administration of justice, certain practices that amount to torture, cruel, or degrading treatment of

detainees, the imposition of the death penalty in the absence of proper judicial safeguards, the

status of women, the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, and the erosion of civil and

political rights, in particular, the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and civil

society actors”. He highlighted numerous cases of political activists, journalists, student activists,

artists, lawyers, environmental activists, women’s rights activists and members of religious and

ethnic minorities detained or imprisoned for their peaceful activities, including many on whose

behalf Amnesty International has campaigned. He urged the Iranian authorities to open up the

space for civil society activism, to launch investigations into the situation of the individuals

mentioned as well as reiterating his request to visit the country.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is due to begin the consideration of

Iran’s second periodic report of its implementation of the International Covenant on Economic,

Social and Cultural Rights in May 2012.

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1) The situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Report of the Secretary-General, UN Document A/66/361, 15 September 2011,

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/66/361

2) Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, UN Document A/66/374, 23 September 2011,

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/66/374

Public Document

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