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Iran lawmakers approve bill to sue US for role in 1953 coup

Iran's Parliament [official website, in Persian] on Wednesday approved a bill that would direct the government to sue the US for its involvement during the 1953 coup. The recent decision came amid the release of newly declassified documents [National Security Archive] by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] earlier this month. The documents officially revealed that the CIA was involved in overthrowing then-prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh [profile]. During Wednesday's session, 167 out of 196 lawmakers voted for the bill while five voted against it. Under the new bill, a special committee will review and file a report within six months. After the report, the government is planning to take legal action against the US in an international court. Proponents argued that the US government has to take responsibility for its violating Iran's rights. On the other hand, critics claimed that a legal action would merely be a waste of time without any tangible benefits.

Iran has come under increased scrutiny in recent years over its record on human rights. In March the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed [official website] reported continued widespread systemic violations [JURIST report] 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 and El Hadji Malick Sow joined the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to urge Iran to end its 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.

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