The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed [official website], on Tuesday expressed concern [press release] over current human rights situations in Iran [OHCHR backgrounder]. In his report [text PDF], Shaheed found continued widespread systemic violations of human rights in Iran, with reports from NGOs, human rights defenders and individuals presenting a situation where civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are undermined and violated in law and practice. Shaheed also noted a lack of government investigation and redress which he said generally fosters a culture of impunity and further weakens the human rights instruments Iran has already ratified. Among the most serious concerns, Shaheed noted the increasingly high rate of executions for crimes that do not meet the international standards of being most serious crimes. The report also notes discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, denial of political and civil rights such as the freedom of expression and assembly and practices that amount to torture, cruel or degrading treatment. Presenting his report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], Shaheed said:
The Government of Iran should adhere to their international obligations and protect the civil and political rights, notably the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression. ... Such rights are essential components of democracy and are all the more relevant in the context of Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, to be held next June. ... [R]estriction on freedom of expression and of association could potentially undermine the inclusiveness and fairness of the presidential elections.Special Rapporteurs hold unpaid honorary positions apart from UN staff, and are appointed by the UNHRC to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme.
Iran has come under increased scrutiny in recent years over its record on human rights. Shaheed and El Hadji Malick Sow recently joined the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders [official websites] to urge Iran to end its recent crackdown on journalists [JURIST report] and release those who have been already been detained. The group called the recent arrests of journalists a "flagrant violation of Iran's obligations under international human rights law." In January a group of independent UN human rights experts urged Iran to stop the execution [JURIST report] of five Ahwazi activists. Shaheed reasoned that these individuals should not be sentenced to death "for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, opinion and expression, and affiliation to minority groups and to cultural institutions." In October the UN Special Rapporteur for Iran accused the Iranian government of torturing human rights activists [JURIST report]. That same month the UN urged Iran to stop all executions [JURIST report] because the government had failed to comply with fair trial and due process guarantees.