U.N. Report: Iran Repressing Dissent

March 11, 2013

            Iran’s crackdown on journalists and detainment of opposition leaders “does not bode well for the prospect of a free and fair” presidential election in June, said Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. investigator on human rights in Iran. In his brief to U.N. Human Rights Council on March 12, Shaheed expressed concern over the nearly 500 executions allegedly carried out by Iran during the last year. He said journalists, rights activists and lawyers “continue to be subjected to harassment, arrest, interrogation, and torture…” Iran has denied Shaheed entry to conduct research. The new report is based on interviews with 169 people, many of whom still live in Iran.

            Iran's Human Rights Council Secretary Mohammad Javad Larijani said the report was “baseless” and used a “totally unacceptable methodology,” according to Iranian media. Larijani called the report “the product of an unhealthy, nonobjective and counterproductive exercise initiated by the United States of America and its European allies.” The Islamic Republic submitted a detailed reply to the report. The following are excerpts from the U.N. report and the Iranian response, with links to the full documents at the end.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Free and Fair Elections
           … On 11 February 2013, the Special Rapporteur joined the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association in a statement urging the Iranian government to immediately and unconditionally release former 2009 Presidential candidates Mr. Mehdi Karoubi and Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and hundreds of other prisoners of conscience who remain in prison for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, or freedom of association and assembly during protests following the 2009 Presidential election. The Special Rapporteurs underscored the fact that the two opposition leaders have not been charged with a crime since their arrest, and that in its August 2012 Opinion, the Working Group on arbitrary detention confirmed that Mr Mousavi and Mr Karoubi, are subject to arbitrary detention by the Iranian Government
contrary to article 9 of the ICCPR…
Freedom of expression, association, assembly
            The Special Rapporteur remains concerned over the continued arrest, detention, and
prosecution of dozens of journalists and netizens under provisions in Iran’s 1986 Press Law, which contains 17 categories of “impermissible” content. The Special Rapporteur joined the independent expert on freedom of opinion and expression, human rights defenders, and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention on 4 February 2013 in calling on Iran to immediately halt the recent spate of arrests of journalists and to release those already detained following the arrest of at least 17 journalists, the majority of whom work for independent news outlets. The group of human rights experts underscored their fear that the 17 arrests carried-out were part of a broader
campaign to crack-down on independent journalists and media outlets, under the accusation that they have collaborated with ‘anti-revolutionary’ foreign media outlets and human rights organisations…
            The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about reports of widespread use of torture in his report to the 67th session of the General Assembly. He further reported that 78% of individuals who reported violations of their due process rights also reported that they were beaten during interrogations for the purpose of soliciting confessions, that their reports of torture and ill-treatment were ignored by judicial authorities, and that their coerced confessions were used against them despite these complaints…
            The Special Rapporteur continues to be alarmed by the escalating rate of executions,
especially in the absence of fair trial standards, and the application of capital punishment
for offences that do not meet “most serious crimes” standards, in accordance with
international law. This includes alcohol consumption, adultery, and drug-trafficking. It has
been reported that some 297 executions were officially announced by the Government, and
that approximately 200 “secret executions” have been acknowledged by family members,
prison officials, and/or members of the Judiciary, making a likely total of between 489 and
497 executions during 2012…
Click here for the full U.N. report.
Detailed Reply of the Islamic Republic
            ...The Islamic Republic of Iran has constantly taken steps toward promotion of human rights at national and international levels. Our efforts to promote human rights have been based on our religious obligations and adherence to the constitutional and ordinary laws of the country and our commitments under international treaties. We are committed to promotion of human rights both in our deeds and words. Submission of national report under the UPR mechanism, cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner, invitation of the High commissioner for Human Rights to visit the Country and visit by the OHCHR to Iran in December 2011 to facilitate the visit of the High Commissioner to Iran are examples of our cooperation [sic]…
III. Capital punishment
            Use of phrase "execution of individuals in lack of fair standards" in this paragraph indicates draft writer's lack of knowledge towards Islamic Republic of Iran judicial system. Having said that in most of countries including Iran capital punishment is anticipated and there is no global consensus on it's elimination. Capital punishment in Islamic Republic of Iran for the most serious crimes is legally executable which is also ratified by international documents. [sic]
            In accordance with Islamic Republic of Iran law, capital punishment is only applied for the most serious crimes and even for premeditated murder there is no capital punishment in the law unless the owners of the blood request for retribution in kind and the highest pertinent judicial authority (or his representative) agrees with the demand (Article 219 of the Islamic penal code). [sic]
            There are many countries who have capital punishment for serious drug offenders. For Islamic Republic of Iran that lies next to the largest producer of opium and heroin in the world, it is very natural to have capital punishment for drug traffickers. Moreover, the Islamic Republic of Iran seizes narcotics shipments of tens of times more than other countries altogether, and thousands of our border guards have been martyred or injured in this fight. This matter has become particularly serious for Islamic Republic of Iran since the number of abusers of new types of synthetic drugs has been on the rise, leading to serious consequences for the families and the economy of the nation. Recently many of these drug abusers have lost their lives and many others have suffered from psychosis and incurable illnesses that ends in their death raised from destruction of body tissues…
V. Torture and other inhumane, cruel and humiliating punishments  
            Islamic Republic of Iran strongly rejects biased allegations on widespread use of torture for confessions. Because according to Islamic Republic of Iran constitution, ordinary laws specially citizenship rights and regulations pertinent to respect to legitimate rights, perpetrator of torture shall be held accountable and shall stand trial. Therefore there is no room for impunity of torture perpetrator in Islamic Republic of Iran current laws [sic].
            In accordance with Articles 20 and 22 of Islamic Republic of Iran constitution, all individuals of the nation are under protection of law and their soul, dignity, wealth, rights, house and occupation are all immune from any kind of offensive.
            In a glance, status and value of people and their dignity are of the greatest importance. Parallel to this, Article 32 of constitution has reiterated that "no one shall be arrested unless by law and through a certain legal procedure. In case of arrest, he/she should be notified about his/her charges in writing (Articles 112 and 113 of code of criminal procedure)…
Click here for the full Iranian response.