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Statement from U.N. General Assembly addresses deteriorating human rights situation in Iran

Informal Meeting of the Plenary of the General Assembly to Hear a Briefing by the Secretary-General on His Priorities for 2015.

The U.N. General Assembly has released a statement addressing different aspects of the human rights situation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which as deteriorated in recent years as a new wave of oppression has taken place.

After the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who ran on a reformist platform, many human rights watchdog groups and analysts had hoped that the human rights situation of Iran would see an improvement.

However, since the conclusion of the 2015 “Iran Deal”, in which Iran agreed to end its plutonium enrichment program in exchange for the elimination of international trade restrictions, Iran has seen a wave of increased oppression.

Iran, the country with the world’s highest death penalty per capita, has not reduced its use of corporal punishment. The use of the death penalty on political and religious dissidents, particularly those belonging to religious minorities, has continued unabated.

“At least 966 people were reportedly executed in 2015,” said the 2016 report, “the highest such number in over two decades, in continuation of an upward trend that began in 2008. During the first half of 2016, at least 200 people were executed.”

“Executions are often carried out following trials that fall short of the international fair trial standards guaranteed in article 14 of the Covenant, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a State party.”

The report also noted that execution of women, foreign nationals, and minors had also continued in 2015. Public hangings, flagellation, and mutilation are also still common.

Regarding freedom of expression, the report noted that “there has been little progress…and far more erosion of freedom of expression and opinion”, despite hopes for the opposite. Oppression in journalism, artistic expression, and social media activity has also increased.

The report also expressed disappointment about the state of refugee rights in Iran.

“In 2015, the Government signed a tripartite agreement with the Iran Health Insurance Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to bring about the inclusion of nearly 1 million Iraqi and Afghan refugees in the government-sponsored universal public health insurance scheme. It provides access to health-care services in all public hospitals affiliated with the Ministry of Health.”

“However, refugees continue to face inequality, discrimination and mistreatment…Only refugees with work permits issued through the Amayesh system are able to work. The majority of provinces have imposed residency restrictions on refugees.”

“The forced deportation of refugees remains of concern. Between March 2014 and March 2015, 216,923 individuals, including 1,772 children, were reportedly forcibly deported from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“There are also concerns about the recruitment and deployment of Afghan refugees and migrants, including minors, by Iranian authorities to fight in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Significant attention has been paid to the situation of women in Iran by the international community. Regarding women’s rights in Iran, the report stated that despite Iranian authorities claiming significant progress had been made, “the Islamic Republic of Iran has made little progress towards gender equality and has yet to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The crackdown on women’s rights activists, female journalists and lawyers has continued during the reporting period. Many have faced intimidation and harassment and, in some cases, detention or travel bans.”

Concerning the treatement of religious and ethnic minorities, the report also stated that Iran had seen significant reversals, particularly regarding the treatment of the Baha’i religious minority, which has been called a “populist sect” by Iranian authorities and prevented from participating in economic life in Iran.

Summarizing its findings, the report urged the Iranian government to issue a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iran. It also urged a reduction in laws and activities which restrict civil society actors from working in safety and freedom, and to promote the well-being of ethnic and religious minorities.

It also pressed for Iran to join international protocols for the upholding of such rights, and to promote international cooperation.

It noted, however, that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights has not been allowed access to the country.

The recent wave of oppression in Iran has been seen by some analysts as a sign of its inherent weakness as it faces economic crises and internal ideological divisions. While the human rights situation in Iran is bleak, many hope that Iran is on the verge of a tipping point where the status quo becomes impossible to sustain.

 

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