Human rights violations continue in Iran despite official pledges for reform

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President Hassan Rouhani of Iran

The new Iranian government is yet to live up to its pledges to strengthen and promote the respect for human rights, according to a report tabled before the UN Human Rights Council.

The report cites widespread human rights violations including discrimination, the right to life, a clamp down on the enjoyment of the freedom of expression, association and assembly.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed, says the government has released 80 prisoners since September last year, some of whom appear to have been prosecuted for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights to expression, belief, association or assembly.

He says despite international appeal for a moratorium on the death penalty, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of executions in Iran this year, some of which were in violation of international legal provisions limiting the permissibility of capital punishment to the 'most serious' crimes.

The Iranian government has not granted Mr Shaheed permission to visit the country.

"In spite of modest attempts to take steps towards reform, the situation of human rights in Iran remains of serious concern. Hundreds of political prisoners continue to languish in detention, often for nothing more than alleged crime of expressing an opinion or belief. Members of ethnic, religious and sexual minority groups face harassment and persecution for advocating for group rights, worship or communal heritage. Such advocacy deviates from officially sanctioned positions. While some cabinate members have indicated a preference for increased freedom of the press, in practice the authorities continue to shut down publications or prevent their re-opening. 16 IT professionals and cyber activists were arrested in December 2013 for allegedly co-operating with foreign media and at least 5 of them and 40 journalists remain in detention."

The Special Rapporteur is calling on Iran to strengthen fair trial safeguards by ensuring prisoners have access to legal counsel of their choice and to investigate all allegations of prisoner mistreatment or psychological and physical torture, and to prosecute the parties responsible.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2.20″

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