Human rights reform in Iran an irreversible trend: UN
Web Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2000
Swizterland, GENEVA - Reform of Iran's human rights situation is an
irreversible trend and is expected to pick up speed, while a sense of
accountability is also emerging, a UN rapporteur said Thursday.But
resistance to change in Iran still exists, a fact made clear by press
reports, in themselves a reflection of freedom of expression, special
representative Maurice Danby Copithorne told journalists.
"I believe the trend to change, to reform is now in effect
irreversible. The question will be more at what speed it progresses," he
said, adding his own expectation was for an acceleration over the next
"There is resistance to this change. It is very
evident from press reports we all see and that itself is a reflection of
the freedom of expression that is to a very wide degree now felt,
reflected, respected in Iran," Copithorne added.
"I believe out
of this new freedom of expression the sense of accountability is now
emerging and I think this is very significant for civil society," he
Copithorne has presented a report, dated January and
covering the second half of last year, to the UN Human Rights Commission
currently holding its six-week annual session here.
says Iran's law on human rights needs significant improvement, adding
that the government has been neither thorough nor prompt in dealing with
disappearances and suspicious deaths or in its handling of last July's
It also noted press reports in Iran of
sentences where fingers were amputated, a prisoner received 100 lashes
before being sentenced to death and stoning for adultery.
Copithorne told reporters: "It is undeniable that human rights
violations are continuing to occur in Iran. But they now are in a little
different environment because they face the prospect of the glare of
public attention through the press."
"What we are seeing in the
press with regard to human rights violations would not, in my view, have
got into the press three years ago," he said.
highlighted a recent change for religious and ethnic minorities.
Couples wanting to register their marriage are no longer required to
state their religion, he said, as is still the case in Iran in applying
for university or a passport for example.
"The Baha'is in
particular were faced with a dilemma by this because if they put in
Baha'i, the form was likely to be rejected saying that as a government
form we cannot accept any non-recognised religion," he added.
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