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UN COMMISSION EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN IRAN
Also Adopts Measure on Protecting Rights of Children The Commission on Human Rights expressed concern this afternoon over a wide range of human rights violations in Iran in a resolution adopted by roll-call vote after last-minute negotiations failed to achieve consensus.
The resolution cites abuses involving administration of justice, torture, discriminatory treatment of religious minorities -- notably the Baha'is, whose existence as a viable religious community in the Islamic Republic of Iran was termed "threatened" -- violations of the right to peaceful assembly and restrictions on the freedom of expression, thought, opinion, and the press. The text also welcomes the invitation extended by the Government of Iran to the Commission's Special Representative on the situation of human rights in the country to visit Iran, as well as an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression and association.
The representative of Iran said there had been substantial progress in negotiations on the resolution, but due mainly to the politically motivated inflexibility of a few western States, consensus had not been reached. The measure was infused with fingerpointing, name calling, and politicization, did not recognize that the situation had changed, he added.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran (E/CN.4/1996/L.42), the Commission expressed its concern at the continuation of violations in the country, in particular the failure to meet international standards with regard to the administration of justice, notably with respect to pre-trial detention and the right of accused persons to defense lawyers, subsequent executions in the absence of guarantees of due process of law and cases of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment; the discriminatory treatment of minorities by reason of their religious beliefs, notably the Baha'is, whose existence as a viable religious community in the Islamic Republic was threatened; lack of adequate protection for some Christian minorities, some members of which had been the target of intimidation and assassinations; and violations of the right to peaceful assembly and restrictions on the freedom of expression, thought, opinion, and the press, including the intimidation and harassment of journalists.
The Commission called upon the Government of Iran to implement fully the conclusions and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance relating to the Baha'is, and to other minority religious groups, including Christians, to the human rights of women, and in relation to the imposition of the death penalty; expressed grave concern that there were continuing threats to the life of Salman Rushdie, as well as to individuals associated with his work, which had the support of the Government of Iran; urged the Government to refrain from activities against members of the Iranian opposition living abroad; urged the Government to abide by its obligations as a party to the International Covenants on Human Rights and related instruments; called upon it to continue to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Commission, including by allowing him continued free access to the country; and decided to extend the mandate of the Special Representative for another year.
The above resolution was carried by a roll-call vote of 24 in favour to 7 against, with 20 abstentions. The vote was as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.
Against: Bangladesh, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan.
Abstentions: Angola, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Cameroon, C'te d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
SIROUS NASSERI (Iran) said that for the last few days intensive negotiations had been held with the European Union with the aim of arriving at an understanding at how the Commission could respond to the full understanding extended by the Republic of Iran. There had been substantial progress in many areas, but due mainly to the politically motivated inflexibility of a few western States, consensus had not been reached. The existing practice of the European Union, where draft resolutions were worked up, consulted on, and agreed upon before presentation to the parties concerned, had been an obstacle. The resolution seemed to be intended for discontinuation of cooperation on the situation in Iran. The Special Representative and the special rapporteurs who had visited Iran had recommended continued cooperation, but the resolution was infused with fingerpointing, name calling, and politicization; it was based on language from older resolutions and did not recognize that the situation had changed. Iran was prepared to respond positively to constructive measures of the Commission. The Commission should, instead of adopting this resolution, adopt a measure that would truly promote human rights in Iran.
GERALDINE A. FERRARO (United States) said the grave violation of human rights in Iran continued to give cause for concern, particularly the persecution of the Baha'i community. The latest example of this was the decision of the Iranian Supreme Court to condemn to death two members of the Baha'i faith arrested without charge seven years ago for practising their religion. The United States called upon Iran to release them and generally to emancipate the Baha'i people.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the resolution on Iran had become a hardy perennial at the Commission. The Government of Iran had extended cooperation to the Commission, and the reports submitted to the forum reflected improvements in the situation in Iran. It was unfortunate that the draft resolution did not reflect adequately the progress that had been made and the cooperative attitude of the Government. Pakistan was most unhappy that consultations aimed at reaching a consensus resolution had failed and hoped Iran would continue its cooperative approach on the issue, despite the resolution. Pakistan would vote against the measure. HEMANT KRISHAN SINGH (India) said extensive consultations had been held between the co-sponsors of the draft resolution and Iran in order to achieve consensus, but they had not been successful in resolving all areas of conflict. India urged that greater efforts continue to be made in this regard, particularly in the light of the cooperation shown by Iran. It was important for resolutions of this nature to be adopted by consensus in order to avoid confrontation. India would not support the resolution.
©Copyright 1996, Democracy Network of Iran (DNI)