UN Committee challenges Iran’s “systematic and widespread use of arbitrary detention”
The UN General Assembly has again passed a resolution criticizing Iran over its human rights record.
The resolution, on the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur, was passed 83-30 by the Third Committee of the Assembly. Other countries abstained, explaining that they wanted to encourage Iranian cooperation with the UN.
Last year, a similar resolution passed 85-35.
The Committee welcomed some progress, including legislation this month to remove the death penalty for some drug offenses.
But the resolution expressed “serious concern” at the alarming number of death penalty verdicts, including execution of minors, based on forced confessions.
The statement criticized Iran’s “systematic and widespread use of arbitrary detention, including the use of such practices to target dual and foreign nationals, and to uphold, in law and in practice, procedural guarantees to ensure fair trial standards, including timely access to legal representation of one’s choice from the time of arrest through all stages of trial and all appeals”.
It urged Iran to improve its prison conditions and to provide adequate medical treatment. The resolution also cited the strict house arrest, imposed in February 2011, on Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — both candidates in the disputed 2009 Presidential election “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and Mousavi’s wife, activist, academic, and artist Zahra Rahnavard..
The Committee noted ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. It called for Iran to end “the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents, human rights defenders, women’s and minority rights activists, labor leaders, students’ rights activists, academics, film-makers, journalists, bloggers, social media users and social media page administrators, media workers, religious leaders, artists, [and] lawyers”.
The resolution also urged the Islamic Republic to release more than 90 members of the persecuted Baha’i religious community.
Iran: It’s All the Work of Our Enemies
Iran’s head of judiciary Sadeq Larijani had tried to pre-empt the criticism on October 30, insisting that the Special Rapporteur’s findings reflected the views of Iranian enemies, and the Foreign Ministry repeated the line on Wednesday.
Spokesman Bahram Qassemi insisted, “The instrumental, selective and political use of human rights by Western states against the world’s independent countries is condemned and is a wrong move that will have no result but to undermine the lofty status of human rights.”
Qassemi claimed that, as the Islamic Republic was founded on the basis of religious democracy, it has always been serious about promoting human rights and fulfilling its international obligations.
Following Quake, Rouhani Criticizes Corruption Over Housing
President Hassan Rouhani has criticized corruption in Iranian public services following Sunday night’s earthquake in western Iran that killed more than 500 people and wounded almost 9,400.
Rouhani, who toured the stricken area in Kermanshah Province on Tuesday, told his cabinet yesterday, “The houses built by people in the earthquake-stricken Sarpol-e Zahab region have remained standing while the government-built residential complexes next to them have easily collapsed. That indicates corruption in constructing residential buildings under the government supervision.”
The administration of Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, put up thousands of apartments in the region — part of a nationwide program of tens of thousands of “Mehr” public housing units — to provide cheap accommodation for low-income residents.
Rouhani said almost 30,000 demolished residential units in Kermanshah should be repaired or rebuilt: “The ease with which some state-built homes collapsed in Sunday’s earthquake in western Iran showed corrupt practices during construction….It’s clear there has been corruption in construction contracts.”
He promised, “We should find the culprits and people are waiting for us to introduce the culprits. We will do that, we will do that.”
Mohammad Hossein Sadeghi, the prosecutor general in Kermanshah city, said the quality of government construction will be investigated and charges may be brought against anyone deemed responsible.
There are reports that an arrest warrant has been issued for a contractor responsible for a recently-built hospital which was heavily damaged.