UN rights council launches Iran probe

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[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] adopted a resolution [text, pdf] on Thursday, appointing a Special Rapporteur to investigate human rights violations in Iran. The resolution was adopted [press release] by a vote of 22 in favor, 7 against and 14 abstentions. The Special Rapporteur is required to present an interim report to the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly and to the nineteenth session of the UNHRC. The US and two additional co-sponsors drafted the resolution, due to concerns expressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] in an interim report [pdf] on the situation of human rights in Iran. The interim report expressed concerns over alleged increase in executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, and possible ill-treatment of human rights opposition activists. Iran spoke at the session as a concerned country and drew attention to Iran’s cooperation with the UN and US on human rights issues:

The approach of Iran to the promotion and protection of human rights was based and emanated from its religious and cultural background and its international commitments. The Government of Iran had worked wholeheartedly to ensure the human rights of its people. At the international level, Iran had extended full cooperation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and had extended invitations to Special Rapporteurs and had received them on six different occasions. Providing true and timely communications at the request of Special Procedures had been a constant. The Human Rights Council had reviewed and adopted the Universal Periodic Review Outcome on the Islamic Republic of Iran and they had already extended an invitation to the High Commissioner to visit the country this year…Whatever the result of the action would be, Iran would continue its efforts to the promotion and protection of human rights which were inherent, genuine and deeply rooted in its values.

Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Russia voted against the resolution. Pakistan, Cuba, Uruguay, China , Brazil and Mauritania spoke in general comments and explanations of the vote before the vote. They expressed a preference for dealing with the issue through dialogue and expressed confidence in Iran’s continued cooperation with the UN human rights system. Also on Thursday, the Council renewed the mandate of its special investigator on the situation in the North Korea.

Iran has been heavily criticized due to alleged human rights abuses. In January, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran [official website] claimed that Iran is on an “execution binge” [JURIST report], killing one prisoner every eight hours. Earlier in January, prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced [JURIST report] to 11 years in prison. Sotoudeh was found guilty [Guardian report] of “acting against national security” and “making propaganda against the system” for which she will serve five and one years, respectively. She was the lawyer for Arash Rahmanipour, who was arrested for his role in the post-election protests on charges of moharebeh, or being an enemy of God. Rahmanipour was executed [JURIST report] in January 2010. Also, in January, Iranian chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi delivered a speech at Tehran University indicating that he would prosecute opposition leaders [JURIST report] for political unrest that took place after the country’s 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive].

Read more detail on JURIST – Paper Chase

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