The U.N. Special Rapporteur charged with examining human rights conditions in Iran has presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council findings from the first eight months of his investigation.
Ahmed Shaheed, former foreign minister of the Maldives, catalogued a “striking pattern of violations” of Iranians’ human rights. The right to life and due process is ignored with impunity by government authorities; discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, women, and other groups, is rampant; journalists, human rights defenders, union members, women’s rights activists and opposition leaders are persecuted.
The Special Rapporteur also noted the “alarming increase” in executions taking place in Iran, from fewer than 100 in 2003, to 670 in 2011, many occurring after little or no due process. Iranian authorities claim that 80 percent of capital cases last year were drug-related. But Special Rapporteur Shaheed said the regime has at times used the accusation of drug-related activities as “a pretext for other activities” it seeks to repress, like political dissent.
Although the Iranian government refused to work with the Special Rapporteur or allow him to visit Iran, Mr. Shaheed reviewed dozens of reports by non-governmental organizations and interviewed more than 160 people during his investigation. He met with members of the diplomatic corps, NGOs and the Iranian diaspora. His interviews included victims and witnesses of human rights violations in Iran, who told him of arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, and widespread use of torture, including rape.
U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner commended Mr. Shaheed’s investigation and report:
“We welcome and support the work of the Special Rapporteur, who concluded that the Iranian government is engaged in a quote, “striking pattern of violations,” end quote, of its citizens’ human rights under international law.”
“We continue to call upon Iran’s government to end its human rights abuses, grant Dr. Shaheed access to Iran, and cooperate with his future investigations.”