GENEVA, Dec. 19, 2016 – Though proponents of the Iran nuclear deal promised it would not affect their scrutiny of Iran’s human rights record, today’s Western-drafted UN General Assembly resolution criticizing Iran’s human rights record added an unprecedented amount of praise for the fundamentalist regime (see list of praise below), reported the Geneva-based independent monitoring group UN Watch.
“We welcome the annual resolution’s traditional criticism of Iran’s gross and systematic human rights abuses, but are profoundly disappointed that the UN compromised its message by lavishing false and undue praise on Tehran’s radical and murderous regime, prompting obvious concerns that politics are infecting human rights,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
“Canada as the main sponsor of the resolution, and the U.S. and the EU states as key co-sponsors, must explain their actions, because nothing in Iran’s human rights record on the ground explains why UN praise should have dramatically increased, going from zero praise in 2010 to 2012, to three paragraphs in 2013 and 2014, five in 2015, and now seven this year,” said Neuer.
Moreover, said Neuer, “there is a striking contrast between the praise in the Iran resolution, and the complete absence thereof in the three other human rights resolutions adopted today by the UN General Assembly on Syria, North Korea, and Russian-occupied Crimea.”
Today’s resolution on Iran “welcomes” pledges by Iranian President Rouhani on “eliminating discrimination against women,” against “members of ethnic minorities” and on creating “greater space for freedom of expression and opinion.”
In fact, noted Neuer, the evidence is the opposite:
- Women’s Rights: Since 2014 the Iranian Parliament has adopted four bills further restricting women’s rights by limiting access to health and family planning services, employment, or by undermining protections against gender-based violence.Similarly, the Comprehensive Population and Family Excellence Bill, still before Iran’s parliament, mandates employment discrimination against women and unmarried persons, makes divorce more difficult, and discourages police and judicial intervention in family conflicts.”By acknowledging and dignifying the regime’s propaganda of promises, Western states have blunted their overall criticism of Iran’s systematic discrimination and violence against women in law and practice,’ said Neuer.
In Iran, married women cannot obtain a passport without the permission of their husband. A husband can prevent his spouse obtaining an occupation he deems to be against family values or harmful to his or her reputation. While women occupy about half of all university student slots, their economic participation in Iran is five times lower than men, according to government figures.
- Human Rights: Iran continues to maintain the highest per capita execution rate in the world, putting to death over 500 people so far in 2016. These executions typically take place after unfair trials, and are for crimes that do not constitute the “most serious crimes” under international law, such as drug-related offenses.Executions in Iran have included the execution of child offenders, including at least nine in the last two years; public executions; and the execution of individuals on vaguely worded offenses, such as “enmity against God” (moharebeh). In August 2016, authorities hanged 25 Sunni men, of whom 22 were from Iran’s Kurdish minority and three were Iraqi nationals, on charges of moharebeh.
- Freedom of Expression: Iran continues to harshly restrict the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association, and assembly, as noted by Amnesty International. These restrictions include widespread censorship of the press and Internet, the criminalization of peaceful dissent and protests, arbitrary restrictions on civil society, a ban on independent labor activities, and persecution for certain acts of religious worship.Iran relies on the systematic use of arbitrary detention against journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, political activists, student activists, artists and bloggers for exercising their protected rights.Ethnic minority activists, including Arabs, Baluchis, Kurds and Azerbaijani Turks, and members of minority religions, such as Baha’is, Christian converts, Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslims and the Yarasan, also face similar patterns of abuse and restriction of their rights.
False Praise of Iran in UNGA Resolution Preamble
The resolution‘s preamble includes the following seven paragraphs of false and undue praise:
- “Continues to welcome the pledges made by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to some important human rights issues, particularly on eliminating discrimination against women and members of ethnic minorities and on greater space for freedom of expression and opinion”;
- “Acknowledges legislative and administrative changes in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which, if properly implemented, would address some human rights concerns, including portions of the new Code of Criminal Procedure”;
- “Welcomes the engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran with human rights treaty bodies, including through the submission of periodic reports, and notes in particular the engagement of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its participation in the universal periodic review”;
- “Also welcomes the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran to host large numbers of Afghan refugees, granting them access to basic services, in particular access to health care and education for children”;
- “Further welcomes the decision of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to postpone the annual civil service entry exam because of concerns that it discriminates against women”;
- “Welcomes the increasing contact with and dialogue between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the invitations extended to other special procedures mandate holders”;
- “Also welcomes the recently expressed readiness of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights and other Iranian officials to engage in bilateral dialogues on human rights”;