UN member states express ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s human rights abuses

UN member states express ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s human rights abuses

Forty-seven UN member states signed a joint statement read out at the Human Rights Council in Geneva last week, condemning Iran’s human rights abuses.

The statement, read out by the German representative on 25 September, expressed “deep concern” about violations of freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as lack of fair-trial provisions, ill-treatment of detainees, and the continued use of the death penalty. 

The 47 countries commended the “unwavering courage” of human rights defenders in Iran, including lawyers, and called for the release of those who have been detained, and of all other prisoners of conscience.

The statement also called on Iran to allow the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, access to the country.

Mr Rehman, in his latest report, released ahead of this latest session of the Council, called on Iran to “immediately and unconditionally” release all prisoners of conscience, including “those imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief”.

He noted the recent removal of the “other religion” category from Iran’s national ID card, which he said “raised fears” that non-recognised religious groups including Christian converts would not be able to obtain an ID unless they were willing to lie about their beliefs.

Mr Rehman also called on Iran to “protect the rights of all persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities” and “address all forms of discrimination against them”.

He welcomed Iran’s release of as many as 120,000 prisoners at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in February, but noted that the mass release did not include “most human rights defenders, lawyers, dual and foreign nationals, conversationists, religious and ethnic minorities and prisoners of conscience imprisoned on national security charges” – including most Christian prisoners.

The rapporteur also called for “prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all acts of violence … including deaths and injuries of protesters and ill-treatment in custody”.

Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi was among the many arrested for taking part in the protests in January following Iran’s admission of guilt in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane, and she reported severe mistreatment and abuse at the hands of those who detained her.

Mary was later given a suspended prison sentence and lashes for her participation in the protests.

Mr Rehman called for the release of all those detained for exercising their “rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly” in this way.

His report also called on Iran to:

  • Abolish the death penalty.
  • Ensure fair trial provisions, including access to a lawyer of one’s choosing.
  • Release all foreign and dual nationals held on questionable charges.
  • Improve hygiene in prisons to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
  • Protect women and girls against discrimination and inequality.