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UN Secretary-General urges Iran to address continued human rights problems

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] wrote in a report [text, PDF] issued Monday that the Iranian government has made limited progress in some areas of human rights but that other areas such as basic freedoms, minority rights and the justice system still need to be improved. The report noted that there have been marked improvements in per capita income, children's nutrition, education, life expectancy, and technical aspects of the justice system, including legislation that bolsters constitutional protections. These improvements, though, vary drastically by region. Additionally, Ban noted that many areas of human rights are still a cause for concern, such as in amputations and corporal punishment, the death penalty for both adults and juveniles, and the lack of women's rights, minority rights, freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and due process rights. He wrote:

Some negative trends have also been reported, including an increase in rights violations targeting women, university students, teachers, workers and other activist groups. Ongoing harassment against human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists, has been reported. The independent media have also experienced tightened restrictions, with numerous publications suspended. While two Iranian- American dual nationals detained in 2007 have been released on bail, there were further high-profile arrests of members of the Baha’i community.
Ban encouraged the Iranian government to continue improvements and to ratify international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [texts]. The UN News Centre has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

The Iranian government has drawn particular criticism lately for its use of the death penalty. In July, Iran hanged 29 people [JURIST report] in Tehran in a move that human rights groups suggested was intended to challenge international criticism [JURIST report] of its death penalty policies. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has said [HRW press release] that Iran leads the world in executing the most people for crimes committed as children and advocacy campaign Stop Child Executions keeps a list [advocacy materials] of those juveniles facing execution. Last April, an Amnesty International report [text; JURIST report] named Iran as having one of the three highest execution rates in the world, along with China and Pakistan. This past August, Iran commuted the sentences [JURIST report] of four people scheduled to be executed by stoning and suspended the use of the punishment, after nine people were given the sentence [BBC report] in July for adultery and sexual offenses despite an Iranian moratorium on the practice [JURIST report].

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