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Human Rights Rapporteur On Iran

Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, attends a meeting of the General Assembly’s Third Committee on the promotion and protection of human rights, October 19, 2011

The U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, has filed his first report to the General Assembly.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, has filed his first report to the General Assembly. First-hand testimonies from individuals and organizations, he wrote, reveal "a pattern of systemic violations of... fundamental human rights."

They include severe deficits in the administration of justice; practices amounting to torture, the imposition of the death penalty without proper judicial safeguards; the unequal 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."

The report highlights the house arrest and forced isolation of opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives –- with all forms of communications removed from the places where they are detained. Mr. Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard have no control over their health care, access to publications, privacy, or ability to live a normal life.

According to Dr. Shaheed, Mrs. Karroubi is reportedly no longer under house arrest, but Mehdi Karroubi is now detained in a two room office and has had no contact with his family since July 16. Reports indicate that he is surrounded by security agents and a team of psychiatrists who are trying to coerce him into a televised confession.

The dramatic increase in executions in Iran is also spotlighted. Dr. Shaheed notes that the death penalty is regularly used in cases where due process rights are denied, and for offenses that do not meet the international standards for serious crimes. Secret group executions occur in prisons, with no notification of families or lawyers; public executions, purportedly to deter crime, continue.

U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner welcomed the report by the Special Rapporteur. He noted that "under international law and its own constitution, Iran has committed itself to protect and defend the rights of its people.

"But officials continue to stifle all forms of dissent, persecute religious and ethnic minorities, harass and intimidate human rights defenders, and engage in the torture of detainees. The United States stands by the Iranian people, who wish nothing more than to make their voices heard and hold their government accountable for its actions.

"We call upon the international community to use this occasion," said Mr. Toner, "to redouble its condemnation of Iran's disgraceful abuse of human rights of all its citizens and demand a change."