UN Human Rights Council extends mandate of Iran monitor

March 23, 2012

GENEVA, Switzerland — The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted by an overwhelming margin for a continuing investigation into human rights violations in Iran.

Yesterday's vote of 22 to 5 with 20 abstentions came after two major UN reports sharply criticized Iranian authorities.

"This result is a clear indication of the Council's concern over Iran's abysmal record on human rights," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

The vote extended for a year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed. Last week, Dr. Shaheed delivered his first report to the Council, condemning the failure of Iran's justice system to protect the rights of citizens. He also expressed concern over a rise in executions, the increased detention of journalists and lawyers, and continuing persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, including Baha'is.

In another report released yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon documented a long list of new or recent violations, including allegations of the use of torture, summary executions, and the persecution of religious minorities.

"The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by reports of increased numbers of executions including in public, executions of juvenile offenders, amputations, flogging, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment, and the crackdown on media professionals, film makers, human rights defenders, lawyers and opposition activists," the report said.

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The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre.

Mr. Ban also expressed concern over Iran's failure to cooperate with UN investigators. He reported that Iran had last year responded only once to 17 communications sent by Special Procedures mandate holders such as Dr. Shaheed.

Diane Ala'i noted how Iran's ambassador had told the Council that his country has been wrongly accused of human rights violations, and that it only seeks to cooperate with the international community.

"This vote and these reports should be a wake-up call for Iran," she said. "Very few countries would now dare to say there are not serious violations of human rights in Iran. What the world wants is real answers from the Iranian authorities – not lip service about cooperation or baseless attacks against the Special Rapporteur."