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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN

12 March 2018

The Human Rights Council today held a discussion on the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, the late Asma Jahangir. 

Presenting the report in the name of Ms. Jahangir, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Chair of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, paid tribute to the late Ms. Jahangir and called on Iran to implement the recommendations of her report, and to extend its full cooperation by allowing visits to the country if a new mandate holder was appointed.  She reminded of the report’s references to reprisals, particularly against individuals sharing information with the Special Rapporteur or publicly reporting on the situation of human rights in the country.  Ms. Devandas Aguilar urged the Government to take all necessary measures to put an end to acts of intimidation against those cooperating with the United Nations and to ensure protection against reprisals.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary of the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, objected to the method of collecting and assessing the allegations concerning the human rights situation in Iran.  He noted that the United Nations and the Human Rights Council should decide whether to condone and tolerate the shameful selective human rights position.  Those sitting in Washington or in Europe had committed enormous atrocities in Yemen and other places, but at the same time they considered themselves leaders in human rights.  Why were Western liberal values the only way to live?  Human rights should rely on the honest to God dignity of man, and not on the model dictated in Washington, Europe and other places, Mr. Larijani stressed. 

In the discussion speakers drew attention to the practice of double standards and the use of human rights for political purposes.  They opposed the non-legitimate appeal for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, noting that the Universal Periodic Review was the right place to discuss that situation.  They advocated constructive dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights in order to appropriately address differences, noting that country mandates did not leave great space for genuine dialogue and cooperation.  Other speakers voiced deep concern about the rate of executions of juvenile offenders, treatment of minorities, arbitrary arrests, harassment, use of torture, and crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran.  Some warned of the negative effect of the unilateral coercive measures against Iran on peoples’ health.

Speaking were European Union, Israel, Russian Federation, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, United States, Australia, Cuba, Syria, China, Venezuela, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Canada, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ireland, Belarus, Iceland, Algeria, Norway, United Kingdom and France.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH), Minority Rights Group, Amnesty International, Baha’i International Community, Women’s Human Rights International Association (in joint statement with France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand), Family Health Association of Iran, and Together against the death penalty (in joint statement with International Federation of Journalists).

The Council will next take up the oral update by the Fact-finding Mission on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee.

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of theSpecial Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/HRC/37/68) Presentation by the Chair of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures

CATALINA DEVANDAS AGUILAR, Chair of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, presented the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the late ASMA JAHANGIR.  She expressed heartfelt appreciation for Ms. Jahangir’s work and engagement for human rights.  Having served as a Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief, and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, she had been a courageous and tireless advocate for human rights and an inspiring colleague.

The Government of Iran was called on to implement the recommendations of Ms. Jahangir and if a new mandate holder was appointed, the Government was urged to extend its full cooperation by allowing visits in the country.  In the report, concern was expressed about reports of reprisals that Ms. Jahangir had experienced, in particular against individuals sharing information with her or publicly reporting on the situation of human rights in the country.  All mandate holders were concerned about reprisals faced by people who cooperated with the United Nations.  In line with recommendations, the Government of Iran was called on to take all necessary measures to put an end to acts of intimidations against those cooperating with the United Nations and to ensure protection against reprisals.

Statement by the Concerned Country

MOHAMMAD JAVAD LARIJANI, Secretary of the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, noted that even though the Government of Iran had objected to the mandate created on Iran, it had held constructive meetings with the late Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir.  Mr. Larijani objected to the method of collecting and assessing the allegations concerning the human rights situation in Iran.  The report did not contain the positions of the Government of Iran on each issue.  There were two views of human rights.  In one view, human rights depended on race, culture, religion and political leanings.  The other view was a genuine one that considered human dignity.  The United Nations and the Human Rights Council should decide whether to condone and tolerate the shameful selective human rights position.  The United Nations documents and mechanisms had been greatly manipulated by selective human rights slogans.  Those sitting in Washington or in Europe had committed enormous atrocities in Yemen and other places, but at the same time they considered themselves leaders in human rights.  Yes, they were the leaders of the corrupt American type of human rights.  Why were Western liberal values the only way to live?  Human rights should rely on the honest to God dignity of man, and not on the model dictated in Washington, Europe and other places, Mr. Larijani stressed.

Interactive Dialogue

European Union welcomed legislative reforms in Iran to reduce the application of the death penalty.  The European Union urged the Government to revise policies and actions on human rights, particularly on detentions and the protection of minorities.  Israel said Iran’s rampant use of the death penalty was a clear indication of the dismal human rights situation in the country.  As a country facing threats from Iran, Israel reminded Member States of human rights violations resulting from Iran’s involvement in the Syrian crisis.  Russian Federation said the report was a blatant example of the politicization of human rights issues.  Accusations made against Iran were elements of a targeted strategy counterproductive to advancing human rights issues.

Germany expressed concern over restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly.  Germany called on Iran to respect the Iranian people’s bid for political and economic participation.  Denmark reiterated its concern over the continued discrimination against religious minorities in Iran.  Pointing to recent advances on civil rights issues, Denmark called on Iran to fully implement legislation aiming to improve the human rights situation in the country.  Belgium remained concerned over reports of a large number of executions in Iran and joined calls to introduce a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and to prohibit and refrain from the execution of juvenile offenders.

Spain welcomed the 2014 moratorium in Iran which limited the death penalty and could reduce the charge for about 5,000 prisoners.  It urged Iran to continue its reforms in response to its international obligations and to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  Switzerland congratulated Iran on its honest exchanges with the late Special Rapporteur, and welcomed the recent legislation on narcotics.  It was, however, alarmed at the continued application of the death penalty on juveniles on this issue, and denounced the ongoing detention of a large number of human rights defenders, including as related to recent demonstrations.

United States said the human rights situation in Iran remained dire.  It condemned the Iranian Government’s crackdown on protests beginning on 28 December, saying that the authorities had forcefully repressed peaceful protestors and arrested thousands, with reports of 20 deaths among the protesters.  Australia welcomed Iran’s amendment of its drug-trafficking laws in November 2017, to remove the death penalty as punishment for some drug-related offences, however, it remained deeply concerned about the continued use of the mandatory death sentence for a wide range of drug-related offences.  Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Baha’is, Balochs, Christians, and Kurds remained persistent.  Cuba said the existence of a Special Procedure on the human rights situation in Iran was a clear example of the politicized practices and double standards that had become habitual in the Human Rights Council.  Noting that the Universal Periodic Review was the right place to discuss human rights violations in all countries, it said that imposed mandates for certain countries were destined to fail and did not contribute to a climate of dialogue which was necessary in this Council.

Syria drew attention to the practice of double standards and the use of human rights for political purposes.  It opposed the non-legitimate appeal for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.  The Universal Periodic Review was the place to discuss that situation.  China advocated constructive dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights in order to appropriately address differences.  It understood the challenges faced by Iran as a developing country.  Venezuela stated that country mandates did not leave great space for genuine dialogue and cooperation.  Imposing such mandates seriously undermined the legitimacy of the Human Rights Council. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected all attempts to use human rights issues as a tool for interference in internal affairs and to sabotage the systems of other countries.  The report on Iran was far from reality, with distorted information, and it disregarded positive developments on the ground.  New Zealand stated that it strongly supported the historic Iran nuclear deal, adding that the dialogue was complimentary to the bilateral discussions with Iran on human rights.  Nevertheless, it was deeply concerned about the rate of executions of juvenile offenders, treatment of minorities, arbitrary arrests, harassment and detention.  Canada welcomed Iran’s changes in the law on trafficking of drugs, which could reduce the number of executions for drug-related crimes.  It remained concerned about the poor detention conditions, especially the rate of suicide in prisons, as well as arbitrary arrests and restrictions on freedom of expression. 

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said the report noted that human rights restrictions persisted in Iran for minority groups.  The application of the death penalty continued at a high rate and the Government had to work actively to pursue the abolition of the death penalty.  Ireland welcomed Iran’s increased engagement on human rights issues, particularly on drug trafficking.  Ireland supported the Special Rapporteur’s call to review the cases of persons in death row for crimes committed as minors.  Belarus said human rights matters must be looked at in keeping with respect for national sovereignty.  Iran was seeking to improve its human rights system.  Unfortunately, the report on the situation in Iran did not provide objective information.

Iceland remained concerned over the harassment of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran and called on the Government to repeal laws criminalizing consensual sexual conduct between same-sex adults.  Algeria said the report noted that the lifting of economic sanctions could have positive effects on the human rights situation in Iran.  Tehran was taking positive steps to promote and protect human rights.  Norway noted its principled stance against the death penalty, adding that Iran continued executing individuals convicted of crimes committed before the age of 18.  Concerns remained over the status of freedom of expression and the media.

United Kingdom noted with alarm the number of executions reported in the Secretary-General’s report, in particular the five executions of juvenile offenders in 2017.  It remained deeply concerned about the persecution and discrimination of religious minorities Iran, as well as about the freedom of the press, noting in particular, the harassment of the BBC Persian staff.  France said the practice of the death penalty remained at an alarmingly high level in Iran, with executions of minors continuing.  It noted the changes to the drug-trafficking law reducing the number of executions, but stated that the situation of persons in detention was very worrying, as was the discrimination against minorities, in particular the Baha’is.

Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims said Special Rapporteurs were crucial for the protection of human rights, however, the regulation of their roles lacked a clear content agenda for their framework.  Some examples of cases of ambiguity were their obligations of reporting, which sometimes jeopardized human rights situations in the country.  Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH) said unilateral coercive measures affected various aspects of the Iranian economy, including through the lack of access to the banking system, which stopped the export of highly crucial medication.  This had dramatically affected peoples’ health, leading to oncological diseases, and other health issues, in particular on children, in blatant violation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.  Minority Rights Group International said the report had rightly drawn attention to the harassment, targeting and socio-economic marginalization faced by minorities such as Baha’is.  These people were routinely denied access to justice, education, employment and political participation.  Minority Rights Group called on the Council to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran.

Amnesty International said the report had detailed many concerns that Amnesty had also raised, including the use of the death penalty, torture, denial of freedom of expression, and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, as well as gender-based discrimination.  Iran continued to use the death penalty against individuals who had been minors when sentenced, and continued to discriminate against women as it had for decades, in compelling them to cover their hair.  Baha’i International Community said the report had disclosed information on the closure of shops, arbitrary arrests, and discrimination while studying at university of Baha’is.  Previously, 25 professors, lawyers and judges had addressed the Human Rights Council, revealing proof of the relentless persecution.  How many more interviews had to be conducted in order for the Council to address the grave violations going on in Iran?  Women’s Human Rights International Association (in joint statement with France Libertes: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand) said the report had expressed concern about the deaths of detainees who had recently peacefully manifested.  The families of the 1988 massacre had the right to reparation and to know the truth about the fate of those who had died.  Far from being a subject of the past, the impunity enjoyed by the Iranian politicians continued.

Family Health Association of Iran reminded that the sanctions imposed against Iran had caused disruption in the provision of healthcare services, as well as serious implications for food security and air pollution.  In addition, non-governmental organizations had not been able to implement various projects.  Together against the death penalty (in joint statement with International Federation of Journalists), stated that the Kurdish community remained one of the most persecuted groups in Iran.  The Kurdish people endured some of the highest execution rates in the country.  Concluding Remarks

MOHAMMAD JAVAD LARIJANI, Secretary of the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, reiterated his opposition to the establishment of the country mandate for Iran based on politically motivated actions, and orchestrated by a few members of the Human Rights Council.  Iran’s cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms was exhibited by the fact that the Government of Iran had replied to all the questions.  There was a need for the improvement of human rights situations in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries.  The United States and the United Kingdom had committed enormous crimes against women and children in the Middle East, but at the same time they expressed outrage because of the executions in Iran.

For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC18/036E

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