U.N. Expert: “Worsening” Human Rights in Iran
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, reported an increase in the degree of human rights violations in Iran. Three months away from the country’s next presidential election, Shaheed noted the “continued arrest, detention, and prosecution of dozens of journalists and netizens,” expressed alarm with “government action targeting lawyers,” and stated concern with “actions that undermine the full enjoyment of human rights by women, religious and ethnic minorities,” among many other observations. When presenting his findings to the U.N. council, Shaheed expressed specific concerns with the treatment of journalists, rights activists, and lawyers defending politically sensitive cases or working with organizations promoting human rights. He said they “continue to be subjected to harassment, arrest, interrogation and torture, and are frequently charged with vaguely defined national security crimes, which is seemingly meant to erode the front line of human rights defense in the country.”
Shaheed’s report called on the Iranian government to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur’s mandate by facilitating his visit to the country and engaging in substantive and constructive dialogue. He also encouraged Iran to “desist from actions designed to injure or intimidate those who work to identify human rights violations,” and to “consider the immediate and unconditional release civil society actors and human rights defenders,” along with other recommendations focused on improving the human rights situation in the country.
While Shaheed has been unable to visit Iran, his report was based on 169 interviews, two-thirds of them inside Iran with the help of independent sources. He stated, “I think I established beyond reasonable doubt that my information is valid.” Iran, however, is unlikely to respond positively to Shaheed’s requests as they have already said his report is ”baseless” and called it “a propaganda theater choreographed, orchestrated, and funded by the US and its European allies to destabilize Iran ahead of June presidential elections.” Shaheed acknowledged the upcoming elections in his report, specifically stating, “restriction on freedom of expression and of association could potentially undermine the inclusiveness and fairness of the presidential elections.”