20 October 2011 An independent United Nations human rights expert on Iran today stressed the need for constructive dialogue with the country’s authorities, adding that he was encouraged by Tehran’s stated willingness to cooperate with him as he carries out his mandate.
“I believe that we will be able to have a constructive dialogue, especially since the delegation of Iran here in New York indicated Iran’s willingness to cooperate with my mandate by providing me with the information that would be relevant to the reports that I subsequently produce,” Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, told reporters at UN Headquarters a day after he presented his first report to the General Assembly’s third committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs.
He said he hoped that Iran’s cooperation with his mandate will include a full-access visit to the country to enable him to travel to places of interest and meet with people he decides to speak with to gather information.
Mr. Shaheed emphasized, however, that he will not be deterred in the event that Iranian authorities do not engage with him.
“I will continue in a very transparent manner to speak to reputable NGOs [non-governmental organizations], speak to a wide range of Iranian nationals, as I have already done, and continue to gather information about the human rights situation in Iran,” he said.
“My conviction is that Iran cares [and] needs to be seen in a better light,” said Mr. Shaheed, adding that he believed that the most effective way to influence Iran to improve its human rights record is to engage with the authorities there.
In his report to the General Assembly third committee, Mr. Shaheed voiced concern over reported violations in Iran’s judicial system, citing practices such as torture, cruel or degrading treatment of detainees, and the imposition of the death penalty without proper safeguards.
He also identified denial of access to legal counsel and medical treatment, and widespread use of secret and public executions, as other issues of concern. He cited reports of capital punishment in juvenile cases, and the use of the death penalty for cases that do not meet the level of serious crimes by international standards, he said.
He said Iran’s record seems to have gained particular attention because of the country’s “lack substantive cooperation with the UN human rights system and because of the existence of frequent reports of suppression of those self-correcting mechanisms that deprive Iranians from freely seeking redress or reform within the parameters of their human rights.”
The “self-correction mechanisms” that are suppressed include free and fair elections, denial of freedom of expression and assembly, allegations of depravation of the right to education, harassment and intimidation of religious and ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and civil society and religious actors.
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