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The situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

A/64/357

          
          United Natinns A. 1 6 4 13 5 7
          General Assembly Dials.: General
          23 September 2009
          Grigmal: English
          Sixty-fourth session
          Agenda item 69 (c)
          Promotion and prnleetinn ni human rights: human
          rights situations and reports nlsperiai rappnrtenrs
          and representatives
          The situation of human rights in the Islamic Repuhlic
          of Iran
          Repnrt ni the Secretary-General
          Sammary
          The present repart, snbmitted in accordance with General Assembly resslatian
          63/191, is intended in pravide an update in the previsas repart af the Secretary-
          General as the sitnatian sfhaman rights is the Islamic Repablic af Iran (A/63/459).
          The present repart cavers develapments in the human rights sitnatian in the Islamic
          Repablic af Iran since Jane 2008, shawing braad pallems and trends md drawing
          apsn that csanIry's internalianal treaty nbligatians md the abservatians made by
          treaty manitaring badies and the special pracedares af the Haman Rights Csascil.
          The repart fscases an the special cancems identified by the Assembly iareaslatian
          63/191 bat alsa inclades an natline af haman rights develapments fallawing the
          2009 presidential electian in the Islamic Republic at Iran.
          The pemsnsespset ‘nas mbasi5sd after the dsadlins aeaeemlt at sanmltanane with the Membee
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          Contents
          Page
          I. Introduction . 3
          II. Legal and institutional framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran relevant to the promotion
          and protection of human rights 3
          III. Economic, social and cultural rights 4
          IV. Civil and political rights 6
          A. Human rights developments since the elections 6
          B. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including
          flogging and amputations 9
          C. Death penalty and public executions 10
          D. Stoning as a method of execution 11
          E. Executions of juveniles 11
          F. Women's rights 12
          G. Rights of minorities 13
          H. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion
          and expression 14
          I. Lack of due process rights and failure to respect the rights of detainees 15
          V. Cooperation with international human rights mechanisms and the Office of the United
          Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 16
          A. Cooperation with the United Nations human rights treaty system 16
          B. Cooperation with the special procedures 17
          C. Cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
          Human Rights 17
          VI. Conclusions and recommendations 18
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          I. Introduction
          1. The present report is submitted in accordance with General Assembly
          resolution 63/191, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit
          to it at its sixty-fourth session an update on the situation of human rights in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran.
          2. The report is intended to provide an update to the previous report of the
          Secretary-General (A/63/459) and show patterns and trends in the human rights
          situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran since June 2008, based on that country's
          international treaty obligations and drawing on observations made by treaty
          monitoring bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. 1 While
          the present report gives special focus to the concerns identified by the General
          Assembly in resolution 63/191,2 it also includes a section on human rights
          developments following the 2009 presidential elections.
          II. Legal and institutional framework of the Islamic Republic
          of Iran relevant to the promotion and protection of
          human rights
          3. As noted in the previous report of the Secretary-General to the General
          Assembly, the 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran guarantees a wide
          range of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In practice, however, there are a
          number of serious impediments to the full protection of human rights and the
          independent functioning of the different institutions of the State.
          4. The Iranian Constitution contains a comprehensive chapter on the rights of the
          people, which encompass civil and political rights, along with economic, social and
          cultural rights. The Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure also provide
          various procedural guarantees aimed at ensuring due process of law and fair trial
          rights, although concerns in that area are noted in section l v i below. A revised
          penal code is still being debated by the specialized commissions of the Islamic
          Consultative Assembly, or Majlis, but it includes a number of areas that would be
          incompatible with international human rights standards. According to the
          authorities, provisions providing for stoning have been removed from the draft by
          the Legal and Judiciary Committee, but the proposed law contains provisions that
          call for other forms of capital punishment, flogging and amputation of limbs. Once
          adopted by the Majlis, the new code will go to the Guardian Council for final
          review.
          1 It should be noted that some concluding observations, for instance those of the Human Rights
          Committee in 1993, are now dated, owing to the long delay in periodic reporting by the Islamic
          Republic of Iran, although the concerns cited herein remain valid.
          2 The following thematic concerns were identified in that resolution: torture and cruel, inhuman or
          degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations; the continuing high
          incidence of executions carried out in the absence of internationally recognized safeguards,
          including public executions and executions of juveniles; stoning as a method of execution;
          women's rights; rights of minorities; freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom
          of opinion and expression; and failure to uphold due process rights and to respect the rights of
          detainees.
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          5. While the Constitution provides for a separation of powers between the
          executive, legislative and judicial functions, there are a number of institutional
          constraints on their independent functioning and their ability to protect human
          rights. The Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supervises the
          executive, legislative and judicial branches and other key institutions
          (E/CN.4/2006/61/Add.3, para. 12). That is reinforced by the system of advisory
          councils provided for in the Constitution. In addition to the judiciary, described in
          the previous report, there are several other institutional mechanisms that provide
          opportunities for citizens to seek redress. Article 174 of the Constitution provides
          for a National General Inspectorate under the supervision of the head of the
          judiciary, which supervises the proper conduct of affairs and the correct
          implementation of laws by the administrative organs of the Government and
          reportedly handles individual complaints. Under article 90 of the Constitution, the
          legislature can also examine and investigate written complaints by the public against
          its own work and the work of the executive and the judicial branches. In addition,
          there are quasi-judicial institutions, including arbitration and dispute settlement
          councils, which settle large volumes of cases. Moreover, the Islamic Human Rights
          Commission, established in 1996, is a non-governmental body that monitors the
          human rights situation in the country. It has no representative status as a national
          institution nor has it been recognized by the International Coordinating Committee
          of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights as
          complying with the Paris Principles relating to the status and functioning of national
          human rights institutions. Additionally, the Islamic Republic of Iran has established
          a human rights headquarters under the judiciary to facilitate international
          cooperation and coordinate among Government bodies on human rights-related
          matters.
          II I. Economic, social and cultural rights
          6. As noted in my previous report, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made gains
          during the past decade in the area of economic, social and cultural rights, although
          significant disparities remain between urban centres and less-developed regions.
          Since the 1979 revolution, the Government has pursued socio-economic policies
          centred on Islamic values that focus very much on the redistribution of wealth and
          poverty reduction. According to the World Bank, the country's health and education
          indicators are among the best in the region. 3
          7. While the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party to the International Covenant on
          Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it has not reported to the Committee on
          Economic, Social and Cultural Rights since 1993. In that year, the Committee raised
          concerns about the treatment of minority groups, discrimination against women and
          legislation and policies on cultural freedom (E/C.12/1993/7).
          8. According to the latest available data in the 2007 human development report
          on the Islamic Republic of Iran, 4 the country's human development index rose from
          0.649 in 1991 to 0.759 in 2005. That largely reflected increases in per capita income
          World Bank, “Iran Country Brief— June 2009”.
          ‘ This report was prepared jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and
          the Islamic Republic of Iran's Management and Plaiming Organization but has yet to be
          published.
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          and the allocation of a large proportion of the public budget to social activities. A
          review of the Islamic Republic of Iran's performance in meeting the Millennium
          Development Goals found that the percentage of the population living on less than
          $1 a day had decreased from 0.9 per cent in 1999 to 0.2 per cent in 2005; the
          percentage living on less than $2 a day had also declined, from 7.3 per cent in 1999
          to 3.1 per cent in 2005.
          9. Those trends have reportedly slowed during recent years owing to high
          inflation 5 and increases in consumer prices, although those factors have been offset
          to some degree by State support. The Islamic Republic of Iran has an extensive
          social protection system that includes training and job-seeking assistance, health and
          unemployment insurance and disability and old-age pensions. Half of the poor in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran, about 4.5 million people or 1.5 million households, benefit
          from Government assistance, charity or other non-profit programmes. 3 Government
          spending and social programmes have been squeezed, however, by declining
          revenues with the drop in the price of oil; some 80 per cent of the Government's
          revenue comes from energy. 6 The World Bank also questions whether social
          programmes, particularly the provision of energy, medicine and basic staples, are
          adequately targeted at the poor. 3 It should be noted that fiscal policy and social
          programmes were the subject of active public debates among economists during the
          2009 presidential election campaign.
          10. As noted previously, the Islamic Republic of Iran has shown greatly improved
          results in the education sector. Government policies have been aimed at increasing
          enrolment ratios, extending educational opportunities to the poorest regions of the
          country and reducing gender gaps at all levels of education. Net enrolment in
          primary education steadily increased, from 85 per cent in 1990 to 98 per cent in
          2005. Primary school dropout rates decreased from 13 per cent to 6.6 per cent
          during the same period. Literacy rates in the 15- to 24-year-old age group also
          increased and progressively equalized, rising from 92.2 per cent for males and
          81.1 per cent for females in 1990 to 98.1 and 96.7 per cent, respectively, in 2005.
          Currently, women outnumber men at the university undergraduate level by a factor
          of two. 3 The Islamic Republic of Iran still faces challenges in dealing with a
          significant rise in its school-age population, providing adequate facilities in rural
          areas and ensuring the quality of education. The fourth five-year development plan
          envisages upgrading the quality of education at all levels, reforming education
          curricula and developing labour-market-oriented vocational training.
          11. Employment remains an important challenge for the Government, with the
          labour supply growing by about 4 per cent, or 800,000 job-seekers, per year.
          Unemployment among women is especially acute; it rose from 26.8 per cent in 1996
          to 40.6 per cent in 2001.
          12. In the field of health, expansion of health facilities, particularly for primary
          health care, led to a significant improvement in life expectancy, which rose from
          64.8 years for men and 65.8 years for women in 1991 to 70.5 years and 72.8 years,
          respectively, in 2004. The under-S mortality rate also decreased, from 44 per
          1,000 births in 1991 to 36 per 1,000 births in 2001. Maternal mortality resulting
          from complications in delivery was also reduced, from 54 to 37 per 100,000 live
          According to media sources, inflation reached 30 per cent in late 2008, up from 20 per cent
          earlier in the year.
          6 The Economist, “An axis in need of oiling”, 23 October 2008.
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          births during the same period. The proportion of births attended by skilled health
          personnel increased to around 97.3 per cent. As a result of prioritizing primary
          health care, health outcomes in rural areas are almost equal to those in urban areas. 3
          13. In other sectors, however, there are greater regional disparities. In terms of the
          human development index, there is a gap of more than 2 percentage points between
          the most and least developed provinces. That appears to be driven primarily by
          income disparities resulting from a lack of employment opportunities, which in turn
          are contributing to migration from rural areas to the cities. Disparities are also
          recorded along gender lines (these will be analysed in more detail in section IVF).
          Disaggregated data was not available on minority groups, although discrimination
          was reported against the Baha'i community. The Committee on Economic, Social
          and Cultural Rights, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Committee of
          Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations and the special
          procedures mandate holders have previously expressed concern in that regard.
          I V. Civil and political rights
          14. Since June 2008, there have been negative developments in the area of civil
          and political rights. Local human rights activists have continued to engage in strong
          advocacy on human rights issues, and, during the election campaign, there was
          considerable public debate and media commentary. The year also saw, however, an
          increase in human rights violations targeting women, university students, teachers,
          workers and other activist groups, particularly in the aftermath of the elections.
          Members of various ethnic and minority groups faced harassment, violence and, in
          some cases, persecution. The independent media also experienced tightened
          restrictions, with publications suspended and websites blocked. The authorities also
          imposed restrictions on mobile telephone messaging and social networking
          websites, which became an important tool in opposition protests.
          15. The death penalty continued to be widely applied, including in some cases
          involving juveniles. There were at least some cases of stoning and public execution,
          despite moves by the authorities to curb such practices. Cases of torture, amputation
          and flogging and suspicious deaths and suicides of prisoners while in custody were
          also reported. Information available on each of the thematic concerns identified in
          General Assembly resolution 63/191 is summarized in the following sections.
          A. Human rights developments since the elections
          16. On 12 June 2009, after a vigorous campaign featuring open and critical
          debates, the Iranian electorate went to the polls to elect a new president. The public
          debates before and after the election were a positive sign of vitality and dynamism
          in the civil and political life of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the handling by
          authorities of the protests that followed has raised concerns about respect for
          freedom of expression, assembly and association, the use of force in policing
          demonstrations and the treatment of and due process afforded to detainees.
          17. On 15 June 2009, following the announcement of President Mahmoud
          Ahmadinejad's victory, it was reported that tens of thousands of supporters of the
          other candidates took to the streets to protest the election result. Violence erupted at
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          the end of the demonstrations, and Iranian national television reported the death of
          seven persons. A number of reports indicated that demonstrations had taken place in
          other parts of the country. In comments to the press, the Secretary-General urged
          that the genuine will of the Iranian people should be reflected in a most transparent
          and fair and objective manner. 7 The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asked all groups and candidates to accept the results
          of the election and, if there were any objections, to use legal channels to raise
          complaints. The initial 10-day period for complaints was extended by five days for
          additional examination. The Guardian Council subsequently ruled that the election
          would not be annulled but that votes would be recounted in areas where results were
          contested by presidential candidates.
          18. On 19 June 2009, five independent United Nations experts 8 in a press
          statement voiced grave concern about the use of excessive police force, arbitrary
          arrests and killings. They noted that, while the protests had largely been peaceful,
          violent clashes with security forces had resulted in the death, injury and arrest of
          numerous individuals. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of
          the right to freedom of opinion and expression expressed grave concern that the
          recent arrests and the use of excessive police force against opposition supporters
          might be a direct attempt to stifle freedom of assembly and expression in the
          country. The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
          highlighted the obligation of the Government to take all necessary measures to
          guarantee the right of everyone not to be deprived arbitrarily of his or her liberty
          and to have fair proceedings before an independent and impartial tribunal.
          19. On 19 June 2009, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
          also issued a press statement expressing her concern about reports of an increasing
          number of arrests that might not be in conformity with the law and the possible
          illegal use of excessive force. She expressed particular concern about reported acts
          of violence by members of the Basij militia, adding that it was the responsibility of
          the Government to ensure that militia members and regular law enforcement
          agencies did not resort to illegal acts of violence.
          20. The Iranian Government responded to the concerns of the United Nations High
          Commissioner for Human Rights, stating that more than 85 per cent of those eligible
          had cast their votes in a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere in favour of their
          candidates and that all four candidates had been given opportunities to express their
          policies and plans on radio and television. The Iranian Government also noted that
          the Guardian Council had reviewed the election complaints and taken appropriate
          action for recounting 10 per cent of ballots in particular regions or at random and
          that it had finally confirmed the result of election.
          21. Despite measures taken by the security forces to prevent or break up the
          protests, tens of thousands of Iranian citizens continued to take part in various
          rallies across Tehran over several days. On 20 June, Neda Agha Soltan, a young
          http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff asp?nid1299. The Iranian authorities protested the
          Secretary-General's remarks.
          The five human rights experts were the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on
          Arbitrary Detention; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;
          the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and
          expression; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
          or punishment; and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
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          woman accompanying her teacher, was killed from a shot to the chest during a
          demonstration in Tehran. The incident received widespread international attention
          following its wide circulation via the Internet. The authorities dispute the
          circumstances under which she was killed and state that the case is being
          investigated. There is no accurate measure of the number of casualties during the
          protests, but numerous media reports have cited at least 20 people killed and many
          more injured during the demonstrations.
          22. As the protests grew, numerous foreign media outlets reported that their
          websites had been blocked and that the Iranian authorities had implemented new
          restrictions that required journalists to obtain explicit permission before leaving the
          office to cover any story. Journalists were also banned from attending any
          unauthorized demonstrations. The authorities also sought to block the use of social
          networking and other websites that had been used to broadcast information and
          visual images of the protests internationally.
          23. On 22 June, the Secretary-General issued a statement expressing dismay at the
          post-election violence, particularly the use of force against civilians, which had led
          to the loss of life and injuries. He called on the authorities to respect fundamental
          civil and political rights, especially freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and
          freedom of information. He called for an immediate stop to the arrests, threats and
          use of force and reiterated his hope that the democratic will of the people of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran would be fully respected. He urged the Government and the
          opposition to resolve peacefully their differences through dialogue and legal means.
          On 23 June, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that he rejected the
          Secretary-General's statement.
          24. In the aftermath of the election, a number of special procedures mandate
          holders signed numerous urgent action appeals regarding the alleged arrest and
          arbitrary detention of several hundred opposition activists and demonstrators. The
          arrests had allegedly been carried out by Iranian police, security forces, the Basij
          militia and plain-clothes officers of the intelligence services during demonstrations
          or at private residences. The vast majority of the people arrested had reportedly been
          deprived of any contact with members of their family and had not had access to
          legal council.
          25. On 7 July, six special procedures mandate holders 9 issued a joint statement
          expressing grave concern about mass arrests. The rapporteurs noted that hundreds of
          individuals, including human rights defenders, journalists, students, clerics and
          opposition supporters, had been injured and arrested following clashes with security
          forces and members of the Basij militia and that, since 12 June, at least 20 people
          had been killed and hundreds of others seriously injured in clashes with security
          forces, which had allegedly used live ammunition and rubber bullets to disperse
          protests. The six experts reiterated their grave concern about reports of killings,
          ongoing arrests, use of excessive police force and the ill-treatment of detainees. The
          experts strongly urged the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to uphold its
          obligations under international law to protect human rights in the country.
          26. On 1 August, the trial of about 100 defendants commenced on a variety of
          charges ranging from participation in the unrest, leading the riots, acting against
          The six human rights experts were those mentioned in footnote 8 above, plus the Chairperson-
          Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.
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          national security, disturbing public order, damaging public and Government
          property and relations with anti-revolutionary groups.
          27. The head of the judiciary issued a directive stating that all remaining cases
          should be finalized in August 2009; however, that directive has not been complied
          with, as the trials have continued into September 2009. The Iranian authorities also
          noted that, as a result of the report of the senior inspection team from the office of
          the Supreme Leader, a detention centre was shut down owing to a lack of adequate
          medical and health requirements.
          28. On 13 August, three special procedures mandate holders'° expressed serious
          concern over reports of detainees being subjected to torture and harsh interrogations
          in order to obtain confessions. The three experts said that the accused included
          lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders, as well as members of the
          opposition, who had protested in the aftermath of the presidential elections.
          B. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
          punishment, including flogging and amputations
          29. While article 38 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran prohibits
          torture, the country's steps to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
          Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2002 were rejected by the
          Guardian Council, reportedly because of perceived conflicts with Islamic rules and
          principles.''
          30. Since June 2008 the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or
          degrading treatment or punishment has sent numerous communications to the
          Iranian authorities regarding serious allegations that had been received concerning
          torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In August
          2008 two separate allegation letters were sent by the Special Rapporteur regarding
          the alleged torture of Mahdi Hanafi, a student who had reportedly been beaten
          during his detention by police officers and subsequently died from injuries to the
          brain, and Ya'qub Mehrnehad, a journalist and activist working in defence of culture
          and civil rights who was charged with mohareb (enmity with God) and mofsedfil
          an (corruption on earth) and was consequently executed on 4 August 2008.
          Mr. Mehrnehad had been the subject of a previous urgent appeal, sent on
          15 February 2008 by the Special Rapporteur on torture and the Special
          Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders.
          The Iranian authorities have stated that a forensic inquiry found no suspicious
          circumstances in the death of Hanafi, but that the case is still open and that legal
          remedies have yet to be exhausted. They state that Mr. Mehrnehad had been engaged
          in terrorist activities in the Sistan-Baluchistan region.
          31. The Special Rapporteur on torture signed a number of urgent appeal letters
          during the same period. He cited a number of different torture methods, including
          10 The Vice-Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on
          torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special
          Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
          “ Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are also prohibited by
          customary international law and by article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
          Rights, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party.
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          sleep deprivation, beatings, stress positions and lack of access to health care. The
          individuals allegedly subjected to such treatment included members of student
          groups, religious groups, journalists, human rights defenders, union campaigners,
          social activists, individuals who had committed crimes as juveniles and individuals
          associated with various minority groups, including the Baha'i, Azerbaijani and
          Kurdish segments of the Iranian population.
          32. The Special Rapporteur on torture issued an urgent appeal on 18 July 2008
          regarding death sentences reportedly imposed on three ethnic Kurds: Farzad
          Kamangar (also known as Siamand), Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili. According
          to the information received, the three men were arrested by Ministry of Intelligence
          officials in Tehran in July and August 2006. Farzad Kamangar was subsequently
          held incommunicado on terrorism-related charges at a series of different locations,
          including in Kermanshah, Sanandaj and Tehran. In the course of his detention, it
          was alleged that he was tortured, including by beating, flogging and subjection to
          electrical shocks. As a result of the treatment inflicted, he had to be transferred
          twice to prison clinics. The Iranian authorities denied the allegations of torture in
          most of those cases and responded that fair trials were conducted, with
          commensurate sentences issued. Amputation and corporal punishment, which are
          justified by the authorities as Islamic punishments, also remain a serious cause for
          concern.
          C. Death penalty and public executions
          33. In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, the death sentence may
          be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law. 12
          International human rights mechanisms have opined that most serious crimes were
          those where it could be shown that there was an intention to kill that had resulted in
          loss of life and that drug-related crimes and trafficking did not prima facie fall
          within that category.
          34. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the death penalty is imposed for certain hudud
          crimes, including adultery, incest, rape, fornication for the fourth time by an
          unmarried person, drinking alcohol for the third time, sodomy, sexual conduct
          between men without penetration for the fourth time, lesbianism for the fourth time,
          fornication by a non-Muslim man with a Muslim woman and false accusation of
          adultery or sodomy for a fourth time. Furthermore, the death penalty can be applied
          for the crimes of enmity with God (mohareb) and corruption on earth (mofsedfil
          an) as one of four possible punishments. Under the category of ta'zir crimes, the
          death penalty can be imposed for “cursing the Prophet” (article 513 of the Penal
          Code). The death penalty can also be applied to such crimes as the smuggling or
          trafficking of drugs, murder, espionage and crimes against national security.
          35. The special procedures received a large number of reports from various
          sources concerning individuals who had allegedly been executed as a result of drug-
          related offences and drug trafficking. While it is impossible for the Office of the
          United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to verify all
          information that is received, the data does illustrate a worrying trend.
          12 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 6.
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          36. As highlighted in the previous report of the Secretary-General, the
          spokesperson for the Iranian judiciary announced in January 2008 that the head of
          the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, had issued a circular banning public execution.
          On 11 July 2008, however, Amnesty International reported that it had received
          information regarding a public execution, the first of its kind since that order was
          issued. The Iranian authorities confirmed that two cases of public execution had
          taken place in the previous year in light of special circumstances and public
          sentiment. International human rights mechanisms have stated that executions in
          public add to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the penalty and
          can only have a dehumanizing effect on the victim and a brutalizing effect on those
          who witness the execution.
          D. Stoiiing as a method of execution
          37. On 30 July 2008, the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on
          extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on
          violence against women, its causes and consequences signed an urgent appeal
          requesting information from the Iranian authorities about an allegation that eight
          women and one man had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. A joint
          urgent appeal letter was also sent on 21 January 2009 by the Special Rapporteur on
          extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the
          independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on torture and the
          Special Rapporteur on violence against women in relation to two male individuals
          who were reportedly executed by stoning in Mashhad for adultery. The executions
          were later confirmed on 13 January 2009 by a spokesman for the judiciary. Although
          the head of the judiciary has issued a circular to prohibit stoning, those recent cases
          suggest that the authorities have not succeeded in eliminating that practice. The
          authorities noted, however, that in many other cases qisas punishments had been
          commuted to lighter punishments. In terms of international human rights norms,
          stoning constitutes an inhuman and degrading treatment. 13
          E. Executions of juveniles
          38. The previous report of the Secretary-General, in line with General Assembly
          resolution 62/168, highlighted executions of juveniles as a specific area of concern.
          The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to carry out such executions despite efforts
          by the judiciary to curb the practice. The imposition of the death penalty on
          individuals who commit crimes while under the age of 18 is a breach of both the
          International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 14 and the Convention on the
          Rights of the Child, 15 to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party.
          39. According to Anmesty International, eight juvenile offenders were executed in
          2008, and to date three have reportedly been executed in 2009. Amnesty
          International also reported that from 1990 to 2009 the Islamic Republic of Iran had
          executed 41 juveniles, which had accounted for more than half of all worldwide
          13 See CRC/C/15/Add.254, para. 45; CAT/C/QAT/CO/1, para. 12; A/HRCI1OI44, para. 39; and
          EICN.412006151Add.2, para. 68.
          14 Article 6, para. 5.
          1 5 Article 37(a).
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          reported child executions recorded in the same period and made the Islamic
          Republic of Iran the nation with the highest number of juvenile executions. 16
          40. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a press
          statement on 10 June 2008 requesting the Iranian authorities to stay the executions
          of four juvenile offenders, reminding them of the absolute prohibition on the
          application of the death penalty for juvenile offenders under international law. She
          acknowledged the steps taken to subject juvenile cases to closer judicial scrutiny
          and to encourage settlements between perpetrators and the families of victims.
          41. During the reporting period, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary
          or arbitrary executions issued several urgent action letters in response to information
          received regarding individuals who had been sentenced to death for crimes they had
          committed as juveniles.
          42. The case of Delara Darabi received widespread international attention from
          various media sources and international non-governmental organizations. 17
          Ms. Darabi was 22 years old when she was executed on 1 May 2009 for a crime she
          had allegedly committed when she was 17, despite a two-month stay of execution
          that had been issued by the head of the judiciary. In a letter to the Iranian
          authorities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed her
          deepest disappointment at the execution and her grave concern that the directive
          from the head of the judiciary appeared to not have been complied with.
          F. Women's rights
          43. The Islamic Republic of Iran has not ratified the Convention on the
          Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
          44. Since June 2008, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, along
          with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the
          Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of
          opinion and expression, issued three allegation letters to the Iranian authorities
          concerning reports that 10 persons (9 women and 1 man) had been arrested by
          security forces for being part of the “one million signatures” campaign, which called
          for gender equality under Iranian legislation and for amendments to laws that
          discriminated against women. The nine women were allegedly detained for eight
          hours and then released, while one man was sentenced to one year on charges of
          endangering national security through spreading propaganda against the State. On
          8 September 2008, an allegation letter was sent by the same Special Rapporteurs
          regarding the August 2008 sentencing of Zeynab Bayzeydi, a human rights defender,
          to four years imprisonment by the Mahabad Revolutionary Court on charges of
          being a member of unauthorized human rights associations and participating in the
          Campaign for Equality. The Special Rapporteurs expressed concern that the
          sentencing and imprisonment of Ms. Bayzeydi might have been related solely to her
          peaceful activities in defending human rights.
          16 Anmesty International, “Executions of juveniles since 1990”.
          17 Human Rights Watch, “Iran: secret execution of juvenile offender”, 1 May 2009; and Anmesty
          International, “Delara Darabi executed in Iran”, 1 May 2009.
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          45. On 27 November 2008, the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human
          rights defenders and on violence against women issued a joint statement expressing
          deep concern regarding the ongoing crackdown on women's rights defenders in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran, noting that peaceful demonstrators had been arrested,
          detained and persecuted, with prison sentences having been imposed on many of
          them. They noted that the Government continued to harass and intimidate women's
          rights activists involved in the “one million signatures” campaign and to prevent
          them from travelling.
          G. Rights of minorities
          46. The Iranian Constitution explicitly declares Islam to be the State Religion but
          contains two important provisions concerning religious minorities. Article 13 states
          that Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious
          minorities who are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, within the
          limits of the law, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal
          affairs and religious education. Article 14 also provides protection for non-Muslims,
          provided they refrain from conspiracy or activity against Islam and the Islamic
          Republic of Iran. The Baha'i community is not recognized as a religious minority,
          but the authorities assert that Baha'is enjoy the rights accorded to all other Iranians.
          47. OHCHR continues to receive reports of human rights abuses against minorities
          in the Islamic Republic of Iran. While it is impossible to verify all the information
          received, a pattern of concern arises with respect to the protection of minorities,
          including the Baha'i community, the Arab minority in Khuzestan, the Nematollahi
          Sufi Muslim community, the Kurdish community, the Sunni community, the Baluchi
          community and the Azeri-Turk community.
          48. Reports continued to be received about members of the Baha'i community
          being subjected to arbitrary detention, confiscation of property and denial of
          employment, Government benefits and access to higher education. A number of
          communications have been sent by various Special Rapporteurs and the independent
          expert on minority issues to the Government regarding the treatment of the Baha'i
          community. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote on
          numerous occasions to express concern and seek clarification about the status of
          seven members of the Baha'i faith who had been detained for more than a year. On
          14 May 2008, six members of the Baha'i community Fariba Kamalabadi,
          Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid
          Tizfahm reportedly were arrested and have since been held in Evin prison. On
          5 March 2008, a seventh member of the Baha'i community, Mahvash Sabet, was
          reportedly detained by the Iranian authorities and has since been allegedly held
          incommunicado in Mashhad. The Iranian authorities replied to the concerns of the
          High Commissioner on 20 February 2009, noting that the arrest of the seven Baha'is
          was as a result of their illegal activities. Subsequently, OHCHR expressed concern
          about reports that additional charges had been laid against the seven, including
          spreading corruption on earth (mofsedfil an), which carries the death penalty. The
          Iranian Government reported that the charges included threatening and intimidating
          Iranian citizens to join the “sect organization”, meddling with the private lives and
          beliefs of Iranian citizens and forming a clandestine organization. The seven have
          yet to be produced before a court and have been denied access to their lawyer. The
          High Commissioner and the Secretary-General remain concerned that the detention
          09-52186 13
        
          
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          of those individuals may breach the obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran
          under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular freedom
          of religion and belief and freedom of expression and association.
          H. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of
          opiiiion and expression
          49. As highlighted in the previous report of the Secretary-General, serious
          restrictions remain on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran. The Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and
          expression issued a number of urgent appeal letters expressing serious concerns over
          allegations received that groups such as journalists, students, poets and human rights
          defenders had been arrested and imprisoned. The Special Rapporteur raised
          concerns that the continued detention of individuals charged by the Iranian
          authorities might be related to their work as human rights defenders and their right
          to freedom of expression. Concerns were also raised about allegations of torture and
          ill-treatment and methods used by Iranian security forces, including the searching of
          property and the confiscation of computers and various documents.
          50. On 14 August 2008, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and
          lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
          issued an urgent action drawing attention to information received regarding Nobel
          Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. According to information received on 8 August
          2008, an article was published on the website of the Islamic Republic News Agency
          containing allegations that human rights were being used as a means of pressure to
          impose Western norms on other cultures and criticizing Ms. Ebadi for taking up the
          defence of homosexuals, Baha'is and agents of the United States of America Central
          Intelligence Agency. The Special Rapporteurs expressed concern that the slander
          campaign might be perceived as incitement to further harassment against Ms. Ebadi
          and her family. The authorities assert that it has been difficult for the Government to
          provide Ms. Ebadi with protection in light of her positions and statements that are
          contrary to the religious tendencies of the people.
          51. On 23 December 2008, the Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for
          Human Rights wrote to the Iranian Government expressing her deep concern about
          reports that the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Tehran, led by Ms. Ebadi, had
          been raided by law enforcement officers on 21 December 2008. The Deputy High
          Commissioner wrote again to the Iranian authorities on 2 January 2009, expressing
          further concerns about reports that a crowd of protesters had attacked the home of
          Ms. Ebadi and calling upon the Iranian Government to ensure the safety of
          Ms. Ebadi and her colleagues. She urged the Government to ensure that human
          rights defenders in Iran were able to conduct their legitimate activities freely,
          without intimidation or harassment. She also called upon the Government to
          immediately authorize the reopening of the centre, to grant it full legal status and to
          return all materials removed from Ms. Ebadi's private law office. On 3 January
          2009, the Secretary-General called on the Iranian authorities to take immediate
          measures to prevent any further harassment and to ensure the safety and security of
          Ms. Ebadi.
          52. On 5 January 2009, the Iranian authorities replied to OHCHR that the
          Defenders of Human Rights Centre had received a preliminary permit for its
          14 09-52186
        
          
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          establishment but had since failed to provide its articles of association or charter for
          legalization as requested by the law. The Centre had been given notice of that fact in
          August 2006 and, following non-compliance with that order, the prosecutor's office
          had issued a legal order for the sealing and closure of the Centre. The authorities
          noted that Ms. Ebadi and her colleagues were able to conduct their legitimate
          activities. Frequent meetings, statements and overseas visits by Ms. Ebadi and her
          colleagues, including the ones to Geneva, were an explicit demonstration of the
          rights particularly enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political
          Rights, the authorities said.
          I. Lack of due process rights and failure to respect the rights
          of detainees
          53. The Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued several
          communications to the Iranian authorities on a variety of cases that suggested a
          widespread lack of due process rights and the failure to respect the rights of
          detainees. Those included allegations that individuals had been placed in detention
          without charge and had been kept “incommunicado”. The use of “incommunicado”
          imprisonment was highlighted as an issue of concern in General Assembly
          resolution 62/168 and in the report of the Working Group on its visit to the Islamic
          Republic of Iran in 2003 and remains a major obstacle to identifying the legal basis
          of the arrest and detention of an individual. Two urgent actions were also issued in
          the case of Arash and Kamiar Alaei, both of whom are leading doctors in the field of
          HIV/AIDS and harm reduction programmes for drug-users in the Islamic Republic
          of Iran. It was alleged that neither they nor their defence lawyers had been informed
          of all the charges against them, nor had they been allowed to review all the evidence
          in the case. The authorities state that the two doctors were charged with acts against
          national security and not in relation to their humanitarian activities.
          54. The case of an American-Iranian national, Roxana Saberi, attracted
          considerable international attention. According to reports received, Ms. Saberi was
          arrested in January 2009 and charged with activities in violation of existing press
          regulations and espionage. Ms. Saberi was detained “incommunicado” until
          10 February 2009, when she made a two-minute phone call to her father in the
          United States informing him of her detention. On 5 March 2009 an Iranian judiciary
          spokesman confirmed that Ms. Saberi was being held in Tehran's Evin prison. The
          Iranian authorities stated that Ms. Saberi's press card had been cancelled in 2005 as
          a result of her activities in violation of existing press regulations. She was sentenced
          to eight years imprisonment, but that was eventually overturned by the Court of
          Appeal. Under the new ruling, Ms. Saberi was sentenced to two years of suspended
          imprisonment; she was subsequently released from prison and left the Islamic
          Republic of Iran.
          55. A number of communications were sent by the Special Rapporteur on the
          independence of judges and lawyers to the Iranian Government over serious
          concerns regarding widespread failings in due process and access to lawyers. On
          21 January 2009 a number of Special Rapporteurs' 8 issued an urgent appeal to the
          18 The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special
          Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on torture and
          the Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
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          Iranian authorities regarding the case of Gilan Mohammadi and Gholamali
          Eskandari, two individuals who had been sentenced to death. According to information
          received, the prison authorities denied lawyers access to the detainees. The Iranian
          authorities dispute that claim. The Special Rapporteurs reminded the Iranian
          Government that, in cases of capital punishment, it was the obligation of State
          parties to rigorously observe all the guarantees for a fair trial set out in article 14 of
          the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which admitted no
          exceptions. The Rapporteurs also noted that the Human Rights Committee had
          observed that “in cases involving capital punishment, it is axiomatic that the
          accused must be effectively assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the proceedings”
          (CCPR/C/GC/32, para. 38). According to the authorities, their sentences were
          commuted upon appeal to imprisonment.
          V. Cooperation with international human rights mechanisms
          and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
          Human Rights
          A. Cooperation with the Uiiited Nations human rights treaty system
          56. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a party to four major United Nations human
          rights treaties: the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified on 13 July 1994),
          the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
          Discrimination (ratificatied on 29 August 1968), the International Covenant on Civil
          and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
          Cultural Rights (both ratified on 24 June 1975). It has ratified or acceded to some
          other human-rights-related treaties, including the Convention relating to the Status
          of Refugees (1951) and the Protocol thereto (both acceded to on 28 July 1976), the
          Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
          (ratified on 14 August 1956), the International Convention on the Suppression and
          Punishment of the Crime ofApartheid (1973) (acceded to on 17 April 1985) and the
          ILO Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the
          Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (Convention No. 182) (ratified on
          8 May 2002). 19
          57. On 26 September 2008 the Islamic Republic of Iran submitted its combined
          eighteenth and nineteenth periodic reports concerning the implementation of the
          International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
          which had been due on 4 January 2006. As noted above, the Government has not
          reported to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Human
          Rights Committee for more than a decade. In addition, the concluding observations
          of each of those bodies adopted in 1993 remain largely unimplemented.
          Furthermore, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a practice of entering general
          reservations upon signature or ratification, which has repeatedly been cited by treaty
          bodies as one of the main factors impeding the enjoyment of some human rights
          protected under the conventions.
          19 The Islamic Republic of Iran has ratified 13 international labour conventions, five of which are
          fundamental conventions.
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          B. Cooperation with the special procedures
          58. The Islamic Republic of Iran issued a standing invitation to all thematic
          special procedures mandate holders in June 2002, which coincided with the
          discontinuation of the mandate of the Special Representative on the situation of
          human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran established by the Commission on
          Human Rights in 1984. During 2003 and 2005, the Special Rapporteur on the right
          to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of
          human rights in Afghanistan, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special
          Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Special Rapporteur on violence
          against women and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of
          the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in
          this context all undertook visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran and issued reports on
          their findings. 20 No visits by any special procedures mandate holders have taken
          place since 2005.
          59. The Iranian Government agreed in principle to visits by the Working Group on
          Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, 2 ' the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial,
          summary or arbitrary executions 22 and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of
          religion or belief, 23 but they have not been scheduled.
          60. Requests to visit were made by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other
          cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in 2005 and 2007, by the
          Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in 2006 and by the
          independent expert on minority issues in 2008; a reminder was also sent by the
          Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2008.
          61. The Islamic Republic of Iran will be considered at the seventh session of the
          Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the Human Rights Council in
          February 2010.
          C. Cooperation with the Office of the Uiiited Nations High
          Conmiissioner for Human Rights
          62. The previous United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise
          Arbour, visited the Islamic Republic of Iran to attend a conference of the
          Non-Aligned Movement in September 2007. The current High Commissioner met
          with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Geneva in September 2008.
          Since 2008 OHCHR has been discussing with representatives of the Iranian
          judiciary possible cooperation activities, including conducting a judicial colloquium
          on fair trial issues in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has yet to be scheduled.
          20 EICN.4 12004 162 1Add.2; A1551346; EICN.4 12004 13 1Add.2 and Corr. 1; EICN.4 12005 185 1Add.2;
          EICN.4 12006 16l 1Add.3; and EICN.4 12006 14l 1Add.2.
          21 A visit was agreed to for July 2004 but was postponed. Follow-up requests were sent in 2007
          and 2008.
          22 Visits were agreed to in principle in September 2006. Several follow-up requests were sent, the
          latest in December 2008.
          23 Visits were agreed to in principle in November 2003. Several follow-up requests were sent, the
          latest in April 2008.
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          63. During the past year, the High Commissioner has intervened with the Iranian
          authorities in a number of individual human rights cases through private
          representations, letters and public statements. Those included cases involving the
          rights of women, executions of juveniles, freedom of religion and the rights of
          minorities.
          VI. Conclusions and recommendations
          64. Once again the present report highlights many areas of continuing
          concern with respect to human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is
          encouraging that some of those issues, such as the rights of women, were the
          subject of open and vigorous debate in the course of the country's presidential
          elections this year. The high level of participation in those elections, and the
          peaceful protests that have ensued, are positive signs of the dynamism of civil
          society in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As I noted in earlier public statements, I
          urge the Government and the opposition to peacefully resolve their differences
          through dialogue and legal means. I have been deeply troubled by reports of
          the excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detention, and possible torture
          and ill-treatment of opposition activists.
          65. In relation to other concerns identified in the present report, I note that
          the authorities have taken some positive steps, for instance to prevent stonings
          or limit the application of the death penalty to juveniles. I am concerned,
          however, that they have not been enforced. I encourage the Government of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran to address the concerns highlighted in the report and
          to continue to revise national laws, particularly the new penal code and juvenile
          justice laws, to ensure compliance with international human rights standards
          and prevent discriminatory practices against women, ethnic and religious
          minorities and other minority groups.
          66. I note the positive achievements of the Islamic Republic of Iran with
          respect to many economic and social indicators. I encourage the Government to
          continue to address regional disparities in the enjoyment of economic, social
          and cultural rights, as well as discrimination against women and minorities,
          particularly in the face of global economic difficulties.
          67. While encouraging the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to
          cooperate with the United Nations, including OHCHR, to further human rights
          and justice reform, I call upon the Government to ratify major international
          human rights treaties, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All
          Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture
          and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and to
          withdraw the reservations it has made upon the signature and ratification of
          various human rights treaties, as recommended by the respective treaty bodies.
          In keeping with its international obligations, the Islamic Republic of Iran needs
          to finalize its long-outstanding periodic reports under human rights treaties,
          particularly to the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic,
          Social and Cultural Rights, in order to allow a systematic review of progress in
          implementing the related obligations.
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          68. Although the Government's standing invitation to the Human Rights
          Council special procedures mandate holders is welcomed, I regret that no visit
          has taken place since 2005 and encourage the Government to facilitate their
          requested visits to the country as a matter of priority in order that they might
          conduct more comprehensive assessments. I urge the Government of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran to implement without delay the recommendations
          issued by the Human Rights Council special procedures, by the ILO Committee
          of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations and by the
          human rights treaty bodies.
          09-52186 19