UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed on Wednesday urged [press release] Iran to comply with his mandate seeking cooperation from Iranian officials. The mandate allows Iran to discuss and implement measures to meet its international human rights obligations, Shaheed said. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] adopted a resolution [text, PDF] in March, appointing a Special Rapporteur to investigate human rights violations in Iran [JURIST report]. The resolution was drafted in response to concerns expressed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] in an interim report [text, PDF] alleging increases in executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials and possible ill-treatment of human rights opposition activists. Shaheed expressed optimism that Iran's government would comply with the mandate:
It is my hope that the Iranian authorities will view my mandate as a secure and legitimate space in which to take steps to comply with its international human rights obligations, as well as an opportunity to address the areas of concern communicated to Iran during its interactions with the international community on human rights issues.Shaheed plans to submit his initial report at the sixty-sixth UN General Assembly [official website] in September.
Iran has been heavily criticized for its alleged human rights abuses. Jailed Iranian journalist Isa Saharkhiz [Iran Press profile] in July urged [letter, DOC, in Persian] Shaheed to investigate prison conditions in Iran [JURIST report]. Saharkhiz alleged that the treatment of both political and general prisoners in Iran amounts to crimes against humanity [RFE/RL report], and compared the conduct of prison authorities to that of Joseph Stalin in Soviet-era concentration camps. In May, rights groups decried [JURIST report] Iran's persecution of lawyers. In January, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran [official website] claimed that Iran is on an "execution binge" [JURIST report], killing one prisoner every eight hours. In January, prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced [JURIST report] to 11 years in prison. Sotoudeh was found guilty [Guardian report] of "acting against national security" and "making propaganda against the system" for which she will serve five and one years, respectively. She was the lawyer for Arash Rahmanipour, who was arrested for his role in the post-election protests on charges of moharebeh, or being an enemy of God. Rahmanipour was executed [JURIST report] in January 2010. Also, in January, Iranian chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi delivered a speech at Tehran University indicating that he would prosecute opposition leaders [JURIST report] for political unrest that took place after the country's 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive].