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Universal Periodic Review of Iran by the Human Rights Council (15 February 2010)

Universal Periodic Review of Iran by the Human Rights Council (15 February 2010)

The United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed Iran’s human rights record in Geneva during the 7th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in February of 2010.  The UPR is a process by which the human rights record of all member states are evaluated once every four years under the guidance of the Human Rights Council.  Each State is expected to provide any action it may have taken to make positive changes to the human rights situations in the state.  During a three hour session, the Iranian delegation failed to address many concerns of members of the Council and was often untruthful about the human rights situations in Iran.

Videos of the UPR

Mr. Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary General of the High Council for Human Rights to introduce the report - 27 minutes

United States - 2 minutes

Canada - 2 minutes

France  - 2 minutes

Australia - 2 minutes

Cuba  - 2 minutes

Comments and answers by Iran - 16 minutes

Indonesia - 2 minutes

New Zealand - 2 minutes

Sri Lanka - 2 minutes

Hungry - 2 minutes

Comments and answers by Iran - 15 minutes

Syrian Arab Republic (English and Arabic) - 2 minutes

Austria - 2 minutes

Denmark - 2 minutes

Zimbabwe - 2 minutes

Closing comments, answers and final remarks by Iran - 7 minutes

Mohammad Javad Ardashir Larijani, Secretary General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, led the Iranian delegation. Other members of the delegation addressing the Council included Fatemeh Alia, Member of Parliament; Judge Seyed Ali Raeis Sadati, Deputy Minister of Justice; Abbaszadeh Meshkini, Director General of the Ministry of Interior; Yonathan Betkolia, the Christian Member of Parliament, and Mahboubeh Mobasheri, Chancellor of Al-Zahra University.

Judge Sadati said that the judiciary in Iran is “independent.” He cited to constitutional provisions including those protecting the right to open-court hearings and the presumption of innocence. He stated that under Iranian law, the police may hold a suspect in custody for 24 hours without charge.

Larijani stated that “there are reasonable conditions for prisoners” that include regular meetings with family members and the prohibition of all forms of harassment. He boasted that Iran is making an effort to end the use of solitary confinement or to expand the solitary cells to eleven square meters. He stated that, under Iranian law, death sentences are “permissible in the case of serious crimes” but also noted that torture is forbidden under Iranian law.

Meshkini, reportedly responsible for denying permits for opposition demonstrations last summer, characterized the 2009 presidential election as an exemplary “exposition of democracy.” He blamed “imperialist powers” for interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs, and dismissed the demonstrators as “insurgents and law-breakers” whose cases were “duly addressed in competent courts.” He noted there were some “minor illegal actions” taken against detainees, but assured the Council that all defendants had access to the attorney of their choice.

In response to concerns expressed by members of the Council about the status of Baha’is in Iran, Judge Sadati admitted that Baha’ism is not a recognized religion in Iran but claimed that Baha’is enjoy “full citizenship rights.”

Many of the Iranian delegation’s claims are contradicted by evidence found in IHRDC’s reports on prison conditions, the treatment of Baha’is, and the post-election suppression of dissent in Iran. For example, while Judge Sadati pointed to due process rights and the prohibition of torture set forth in the Iranian Constitution, he failed to address the fact that the regime does not observe those laws. Larijani and Meshkini simply lied when they told the Council that prisoners are allowed regular visits with their families, counsel of their choice, and that they are free from harassment. Many detainees were, and continue to be, held without charge for weeks and sometimes months, denied access to lawyers and families, subjected to lengthy periods of solitary confinement and interrogation, and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.

Iran failed to improve its human rights situations, causing the Secretary-General of the UN to issue a report on the human rights situation in Iran to the General Assembly in September of 2010 (A/65/370).  A subsequent report by the Secretary-General was given 14 March 2011 (A/HRC/16/75).  Iran's failure to respond to the international concerns regarding its human rights situation led to the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights 24 March 2011.

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