UN rights expert: Iran should emphasize human rights in response to social challenges
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UN rights expert: Iran should emphasize human rights in response to social challenges

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran on Wednesday urged Iran to respond to social challenges in the country by putting international human rights law at the center of a government response.

Javaid Rehman was appointed Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran in July. He recently presented his report to the General Assembly and noted several issues.

Rehman embraced the Iranian government’s change to its drug enforcement laws that have resulted in a reduced number executions for drug related crimes. However, he criticized the government’s allowance of capital punishment for minors, denouncing the execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand in early October. Rehman called for the Iranian government to halt its sentencing of children to death as international law dictates.

Rehman also discussed the potential impact of economic sanctions on Iran following the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which could result in reduced access to medical supplies, raising death rates and affecting the economic and social rights of the citizens. On this point, the International Court of Justice ruled earlier in October that the US must lift sanctions on Iran that affect humanitarian goods.

The Special Rapporteur commented on the large number of protests relating to unemployment rates and rising living costs that saw violent response from authorities and government bans on certain social media. Rehman called for the government to allow for freedom of assembly and expression.

Lastly, Rehman discussed the treatment of women and ethnic and religious minorities in the nation. He noticed an effort by the government by introducing a bill regarding protecting women against violence. Rehman stated his intention to analyze legislation in its relation to inequality in “rights in marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance” and monitor potential violations of freedom of expression of women who have spoken out against compulsory veiling.  The Special Rapporteur expressed his concern for violation of rights of religious and ethnic minorities, especially treatment of the Baha’i community. Rehman called upon the government to “ensure that all those who reside in the country have equal protection before the law, regardless of ethnicity, religion or belief.”