Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been repeatedly imprisoned in Iran (File)

Forty civil society organizations have published a letter urging UN members to adopt a resolution on human rights in Iran.

Canada will present the resolution to the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

The groups say in the letter, drafted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch:

By supporting [the] resolution, the UN General Assembly will send a strong signal to the Iranian authorities that the promotion and respect of human rights is a priority, and that genuine and tangible improvements to the situation are expected to ensure the dignity inherent to all persons in Iran.

They noted the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur and Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ concern that 2018 has been “marked by an intensified crackdown on protesters, journalists, and social media users”, amid period protests and nationwide demonstrations in January.

The organization says hundreds of people have been detained on vague “national security” charges. Targets include journalists, online media staff, lawyers, students, filmmakers, musicians, writers, trade unionists and activists over women’s and minority rights, the environment, and the death penalty. Detainees are denied a lawyer of their choice.

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The UN resolution does note the Government’s amendment of Iran’s drug law, reducing executions, but the groups summarize that the Islamic Republic continues to impose capital punishment for “enmity against God” and “spreading corruption on earth” as well as for some consensual same-sex and extra-marital relationships. Those under the age of 18 at the time of their crime can still be executed, with at least five hanged in 2018 and at least 85 on death row.

The signatories argue:

The UN’s ongoing engagement is necessary in order to press Iran to undertake long-overdue reforms and respect the human rights of all in the country. The Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur have repeatedly stressed that various laws, policies and practices in Iran continue to seriously undermine the fundamental rights of the people of Iran, including their rights to life; freedom from torture and other ill-treatment; fair trial; freedom of religion or belief; peaceful exercise of the freedom of expression (online and offline), association and assembly; and equal enjoyment of all to education, to health and to work.

They note ongoing discrimination against women; religious minorities, such as Baha’i followers; and ethnic minority activists, including Arabs, Baloch, Kurds, and Azerbaijani Turks.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights has not been allowed to visit Iran since 2005.