UN Special Rapporteur: Despite “Encouraging Signs,” Human Rights Deteriorating in Iran

Asma Jahangir, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In presenting her semi-annual 2017 report on Iran to the United Nations General Assembly, UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir noted positive developments in the country while describing the ongoing deterioration of human rights.

“The current human rights situation in Iran is deeply concerning in many respects, but I also believe that there are some encouraging signs which I hope will be realized in the near future,” said Jahangir in presenting a full report to the UN General Assembly on October 25, 2017.

“I continue to hope that the human rights situation will improve in the country through the efforts of the government. This will require an enabling political environment both at the national and at the global level,” she added.

Jahangir said positive developments included a high turnout in presidential and local elections, positive statements on human rights made by President Hassan Rouhani, and the Charter on Citizen’s Rightsunveiled by the president last December.

However, she noted numerous other concerns over civil and political rights, including restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, opinion, information.

People working in the media, including journalists working abroad for BBC Persian, reported being interrogated, placed under surveillance, and other forms of harassment and intimidation, she said. Human rights defenders were suffering “harassment, intimidation, and prosecutions, some prisoners of conscience were on hunger strike, and some dual nationals had been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.

“In the course of this year, I have met with numerous journalists, including some working in the Persian Service of the British Broadcasting Company during a short visit to the United Kingdom,” she said. “They described how they have been harassed and intimidated by agents of the State. In some cases, I understand that those targeted did not return back to work. I have also received reports of family members being called in for questioning and warned of dire consequences if their relatives continued to work for the BBC Persian Service, and the imposition of asset freezes preventing the journalists, for example, from being able to sell property.”

Jahangir called for progress to protect the rights of women “in practice, and in legislation”, to ensure the independence of the judiciary, and to ensure remedy, reparation and truth for victims of rights abuses.

Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities continued to face challenges including the unabated discrimination against and targeting of the Baha’i community which threatened their right to a livelihood, she added.

Jahangir said Iran’s use of the death penalty was another cause of concern. A new anti-narcotics lawcould reduce its use and some delay executions, but she highlighted the execution of four juvenile offenders over the past year.

“I urge the Iranian authorities to urgently abolish the sentencing of children to death, and to engage in a comprehensive process of commutation of all death sentences issued against children, in line with juvenile justice standards,” she said.

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