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Iran impeaches labor minister over controversial appointment

The Iranian Parliament [official website, in Persian] on Sunday voted 192-56 to impeach the country's labor minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, because he appointed an official who was implicated in the deaths of anti-government prisoners in 2010. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [JURIST news archive] said that this constituted an abuse of power [AP report] by parliament speaker Ali Larijana. Larijana is the leader of the conservative party in the parliament, which has been in a power struggle against Ahmadinejad. Lawmakers sought to impeach Sheikholeslami after he appointed former chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi to the head of the Social Security Organization. Mortazavi had been suspended [JURIST report] from his post as chief prosecutor in 2010 after a parliamentary inquiry found that he was responsible for the deaths of three prisoners who were arrested during anti-government protests after the country's disputed presidential election [JURIST report].

Despite this move by the parliament against Mortazavi, Iran's government has been criticized for human rights abuses recently, specifically against prisoners and detainees. Last week, the UN urged Iran to stop the execution [JURIST report] of five activists who were sentenced to enmity against God, corruption on earth and propaganda against the government. That same day, a US pastor was sentenced to eight years [JURIST report] in prison in Iran on charges of threatening national security for leadership in Christian houses. The pastor had been beaten and tortured while being held on these charges. The UN in October also released a report [JURIST report] showing that the Iranian government was torturing human rights activists and threatening their families with rape or death.

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