UN Report on Human Rights in Iran

October 7, 2016

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a new report critical of Iran’s human rights record. Executions were down in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. But Tehran “has not taken any measures to halt executions or instituted a moratorium on the death penalty,” the secretary general noted. He also expressed particular concern over the pattern of arbitrary arrests and convictions of journalists and online activists.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi, however, said the findings were “invalid.” He said that such reports “have fundamental problems principally and in nature and therefore, are invalid in the Islamic Republic of Iran's view,” according to Fars News Agency. The following are excerpts from the report presented to the 71st session of the U.N. General Assembly.

 

Overview of the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Death penalty

On 19 October 2015, the Secretary-General expressed serious concerns about the alarming rate of executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, He reiterated his call upon the Government to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. That call was echoed on several occasions by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and special procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Secretary-General regrets that the Government has not taken any measures to halt executions or instituted a moratorium on the death penalty.

At least 966 people were reportedly executed in 2015, the highest such number in over two decades, in continuation of an upward trend that began in 2008. During the first half of 2016, at least 200 people were executed. While that number is very high, it represents a decrease in the rate of executions compared with the first half of 2015 and may be partly related to the parliamentary elections held in February 2016. Indeed, since 2009, there has been a pattern of executions dropping significantly before polling day then dramatically increasing afterwards. …

Execution of minors

The Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, special procedures mandate holders and treaty bodies have consistently expressed concerns about the execution of juvenile offenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran. On 14 April 2016, the High Commissioner expressed serious concerns about the large number of juvenile offenders reported to be on death row. He urged the authorities to ensure that no one be executed for offences committed when under the age of 18, recalling the strict prohibition on the execution of juveniles in international human rights law. …

Torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment

Despite the entry into force, in June 2015, of some safeguards in the form of a revised Code of Criminal Procedure, protections against torture still do not meet international standards. The Code does not define a specific crime of torture, leaving prisoners at risk of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In addition, the exclusion of statements obtained through torture from admissible evidence is not supported by detailed provisions in the Code. …

Freedom of expression

The Secretary-General notes the commitment by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran to loosening restrictions on freedom of expression and his acknowledgment of freedom of speech as a basic human right. During the reporting period there has been little progress, however, and far more erosion of freedom of expression and opinion.

The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about the persistent pattern of arbitrary arrests and convictions of journalists and online activists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Islamic Republic of Iran has imprisoned the third greatest number of journalists of any country in the world13 and is the seventh most censored country in the world.14 As of March 2016, at least 47 journalists and Internet users were reportedly imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran. …

Treatment of refugees

The Secretary-General appreciates that the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to host 951,000 refugees, one of the largest refugee communities in the world, the majority of whom come from Afghanistan. The authorities have taken important measures to ensure access to education and health care for refugees. According to the Ministry of Education, 360,693 Afghan and 8,586 Iraqi students were enrolled in the education system of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 2014-2015 school year. In May 2015, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced that all Afghans, regardless of their status, should have access to school. Previously, children of unregistered refugees had been barred from attending school. …
 

However, refugees continue to face inequality, discrimination and mistreatment. Only refugees with work permits issued through the Amayesh system are able to work. Many barriers to marriage between Iranians and undocumented refugees remain, with women being unable to transmit citizenship to their children and their non-citizen spouses. Children born out of wedlock cannot obtain birth certificates or travel documents and are automatically barred from accessing public services. …

Situation of civil society actors

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders expressed serious concerns about the continuing pattern of arbitrary arrest, detention and prosecution of human rights defenders as an attempt to prevent them from engaging in legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. Human rights activists and lawyers are routinely subjected to ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement, degrading conditions in detention, psychological and physical torture and denial of urgent medical treatment. …

The situation of women

Although it is a member of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made little progress towards gender equality and has yet to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The crackdown on women’s rights activists, female journalists and lawyers has continued during the reporting period. Many have faced intimidation and harassment and, in some cases, detention or travel bans. …

Treatment of individuals belonging to religious and ethnic minorities

The special procedures mandate holders and treaty bodies have referred to the Baha’i as the most severely persecuted religious minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its members subjected to multiple forms of discrimination that affect their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. …

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