Home | English | Human Rights Documents | Aadel Collection | Interim report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights in accordance with General Assembly resolution 54/142 of 12 December 1997 and Economic and Social Council decision 1998/273 of 30 July 1998

Interim report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights in accordance with General Assembly resolution 54/142 of 12 December 1997 and Economic and Social Council decision 1998/273 of 30 July 1998

A/53/423

          
          A /53/423
          United Nations
          General Assembly
          Fifty-third session
          Agenda item 110(c)
          Human rights questions: human rights situations and reports of special
          rapporteurs and representatives
          Distr.: General
          23 September 1998
          Original: English
          Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
          Note by the Secretary-General
          The Secretary-General has IIe honour to transmit to IIe members of IIe General
          Assembly IIe interim report prepared by Maurice CopiIIorne, Special Representative of IIe
          Commission on Human Rights on IIe situation of human rights in IIe Islamic Republic of
          Iran, in accordance wiII Assembly resolution 52/142 of 12 December 1997 and Economic
          and Social Council decision 1998/273 of 30 July 1998.
          98-27951 (E) 191098
        
          
          A/53/423
          Annex
          Interim report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the
          Commission on Human Rights in accordance with General
          Assembly resolution 52/142 of 12 December 1997 and
          Economic and Social Council decision 1998/273 of 30 July 1998
          Executive summary
          1. The public and private debate about change in governance and in IIe judicial system
          has become more open and more sharply focused.
          2. Much of this change would directly or indirectly impact on IIe promotion and protection
          of human rights.
          3. There is a significant commitment to such change in many quarters including, in
          particular, IIe executive.
          4. Some human rights sectors are already benefiting from IIis including, in particular,
          ffleedom of expression which, despite occasional setbacks, does appear overall to be making
          progress.
          5. Comprehensive plans for change in oIIer areas have been announced including, in
          particular, IIe prison system and, to a lesser extent, IIe court system. There have also been
          positive developments wiII regard to IIe Independent Bar Association and IIe Islamic Human
          Rights Commission.
          6. In oIIer areas, notably IIe status of women and IIe status of religious and ethnic
          minorities, IIere appears to be no comparable commitment to change. In boII areas, human
          rights violations continue to occur.
          7. The situation of IIe Baha' is has not improved in IIe period under review, nor has IIere
          been progress in IIe matter of IIe fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
          8. Tn selected oIIer areas, progress, in real or prospective terms, exists in about half IIe
          areas examined.
          9. While IIe Islamic Republic of Iran is making progress in IIe fleld of human rights, IIis
          progress is uneven and a number of sectors are, at IIis time, being leifi behind. The
          Government needs to broaden its agenda for change and to declare a strong commitment to
          achieving certain goals wiIIin speciffied time-fflames.
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          Contents
          Paragraphs Pag&
          I. Introduction 1—4 4
          II. The Special Representative's activities and sources 5—7 4
          III. Freedom of opinion and expression 8—15 5
          IV. Status of women 16—24 5
          V. Legal subjects 25—40 7
          A. The legal system 25—26 7
          B. Independent Bar Association 27 7
          C. Executions 28 7
          D. The prison system 29—33 7
          E. Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 34—40 8
          VI. SituationofIIeBaha'is 41—46 9
          VII. OIIer important matters 47—64 9
          A. Islamic Human Rights Commission 47—4 9 9
          B. Situation of certain religious minorities 50—55 10
          C. Narcotics control 56—58 10
          D. Extraterritorial violence 59—63 11
          E. Democracy 64 11
          VIII. Conclusions 65—68 11
          Appendices
          I. Freedom of expression 13
          II. Situation of IIe Baha'is 14
          III. Correspondence between IIe Government of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran and IIe Special
          Representative, January—August 1998 15
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          I. Introduction
          1. The domestic reform process inIIe Islamic Republic
          of Iran, which has been given new life and major impetus by
          President Khatami, continued during IIe period under review,
          January to 31 August1998. For many, IIis process was too
          slow in bearing fruit and IIe improvements were too
          uncertain. For oIIers, IIe process was moving too quickly,
          andIIe Islamic nature of IIe society was injeopardy. Some
          observers saw IIe contest as one between freedom on IIe one
          hand and economic development and social justice on IIe
          oIIer. The development of human rights in IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran seems to be very much bound up wiII IIe
          outcome of IIis debate.
          2. In practical terms, IIe contest is impeding
          improvements inmost of IIe major sectors under review by
          IIe Special Representative. Thus, in IIe area of freedom of
          expression where progress is tangible, it seems to be too often
          a matter of two steps forward and one step back. In oIIer
          areas, notably IIe legal system, IIere is a promising
          commitment by IIe executive. In still oIIers, such as women,
          and despite statements by IIe Government, continuing
          quantiffiable progress is not yet in sight. There are bright spots
          or potentially bright spots such as IIe Islamic Human Rights
          Commission, IIe acknowledgement IIat torture exists, and
          IIe reform of IIe prison system. The situation of IIe Baha'is
          has not improved. As IIe present report was completed, it was
          reported in IIe media IIat an accommodation on IIe matter
          of IIe fatwa against Salman Rushdie had apparently been
          reached between IIe Iranian and British Foreign Ministers.
          3. The Special Representative was very disappointed IIat,
          despite repeated statements to IIe United Nations High
          Commissioner for Human Rights and to oIIers, no invitation
          was forIIcoming fflom IIe Government for IIe Special
          Representative to visit IIe Islamic Republic of Iran. It was
          inevitable IIat IIe absence of first-hand knowledge would
          have an impact on IIis report. The Special Representative
          again calls on IIe Government to resume its ff11 cooperation
          wiII him inIIe discharge of his mandate.
          4. Finally, IIe Special Representative wishes to note IIe
          visit to Tehran of IIe High Commissioner during IIis period
          to open IIe SixII Workshop on Human Rights Arrangements
          in IIe Asia Paciffic Region. In IIe course of IIe visit, IIe High
          Commissioner had discussions wiII senior Iranian oLicials
          on human rights matters, among which was IIe question of
          anoIIer visit to IIe Islamic Republic of Iran by IIe Special
          Representative.
          II. The Special Representative's
          activities and sources
          5. In April 1998, IIe Special Representative introduced
          his IIird report to IIe Commission on Human Rights
          (E/CN. 4/1998/59). The Special Representative returned to
          Geneva in May to carry out consultations and participate in
          IIe ffifII meeting of special rapporteurs, special
          representatives, experts and chairpersons of working groups
          of IIe Commission on Human Rights. During his stay in
          Geneva, fflom 17 to 27 August 1998, to prepare IIe present
          report, IIe Special Representative met with senior oLicials
          of IIe Government of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran, and wiII
          IIe United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
          and had oIIer consultations.
          6. To carry out IIe terms of his mandate, IIe Special
          Representative continues to draw from a wide range of
          IIfonnation sources, including IIe Government of IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran, oIIer Governments, United Nations
          organizations, bodies and programmes, non-governmental
          orgaIIzations, individuals and media reports emanating from
          inside and outside IIe Islamic Republic of Iran.
          7. During IIe reporting period, IIe Special Representative
          received written communications fflom IIe following groups:
          About Iran; Amnesty International; Cross Colors
          Communication, Inc.; Association of Iranian Political
          Prisoners in Exile; Association for World Education; The
          Joint Committee of Iranian Opposition; Baha'i International
          Community; Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; Iranian
          Worker LeifiUnity; Labour Council (Shoraykar); Sharareha
          Association; Solidarity Radio (Hambastegi Radio); Wamen
          Radion (Zanan Raido); Leifi activists; International Federation
          oflraIIanReffiigees; International PEN; People's Mojahedin
          OrgaIIzation of Iran; Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
          in New York; National Council of Resistance of Iran;
          National Committee of Women for Democratic Iran;
          Organisation for Defending Victims of Violence;
          OrgaIIzation of lranianPeople's Fedaian (Majority); Labour
          Party of Iran Tofan; Group Defending Freedom of Expression
          in Iran; IraIIan Association of Writers in Exile; Organization
          of Revolutionary Workers of Iran (Rahe Kargar); Fadaiian
          (Aghaliat); Communist Party of Iran; Combatant Workers
          Party of Iran; Hasteh Aghaliat; Society for IIe Defense of
          Political Prisoners in Iran; Working Group for
          Institutionalization of Human Rights in Iran (WGIHRI);
          World Association of Newspapers; and Human Rights Watch.
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          II I. Freedom of opinion and expression
          8. The period from January to August 1998 saw a
          continuation of government eLorts to make progress in IIe
          area of ffleedom of opinion and expression. That lranianmedia
          reported widely on IIese developments itself speaks to IIe
          ffleewheeling public debate IIat continues on many subjects.
          Some of IIe reported incidents are set out in appendix I.
          9. Some incidents deserve particular mention. In May,
          foreign wire services quoting Islamic Republic of Iran dailies,
          said IIat IIe former editor of Iran, Morteza Firoozi, who had
          been in custody since May 1997, had lost his appeal on
          charges of having spied for several countries, and of
          committing adultery wiII a married woman. He was reported
          in the Iranian press to have been sentenced to deaII by
          stoning. Firoozi is said to be a highly regarded and well-
          connected journalist. Interventions by a number of
          international agencies, including an urgent appeal by IIe
          Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
          executions of IIe Commission on Human Rights, were made
          on his behalf The Government has advised IIat IIis deaII
          sentence has been commuted.
          10. In July, a foreign wire service, quoting IIe Iranian
          national news agency (IRNA), reported IIat an Iranian
          appeals court had upheld a ban on a leading reformist paper,
          Jameak, which had become very popular for its outspoken
          reporting. The court referred to IIe publication of immoral
          material and to cartoons insulting IIe judiciary Also in July,
          a foreign wire service, quoting a Justice ministry spokesman,
          said IIat IIe director of IIe weeklyKhaneh had been detained
          for oLending Islam”, IIe Shiite clergy and Imam Khomeini,
          and for publishing photographs IIat violated public modesty
          In August, a foreign wire service quoting IRNA reported IIat
          the Tehran Justice Department had banned IIe daily
          newspaper Tous which had resumed publication only IIe
          week before aifier a previous run-in wiII Iranian oLicials.
          Foreign wire services also reported IIat two reporters had
          been attacked by militants outside IIe oLices of IIe
          newspaper. Shortly IIereaifier, a successor publication,
          Attab-e Emrouz, began publication.
          11. Meanwhile, IIe Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic
          Guidance for media aLairs, Ahmad Bourqani, was quoted in
          the Islamic Republic of Iran English-language press as
          declaring IIat IIe Ministry would employ all its legal
          machinery for ffleedom and lawful operation of IIe press. He
          said that IIe Ministry would resort to IIe judiciary to protect
          IIis ffleedom. He was quoted as saying nobody has IIe right
          to exert pressure on IIe press and IIe statements made on IIe
          basis of personal taste have no legal basis”. He asserted IIat
          IIe Iranian press was now ffinding its true position in society
          Government sources state IIat IIere are now some 1,095
          licensed periodicals and 88 newspapers published in IIe
          Islamic Republic of Iran.
          12. During IIis period, IIe minister responsible for media,
          IIe Minister of IIe Interior, was forced to resign by an
          impeachment vote in IIe Majlis. He was immediately
          appointed Vice-President of IIe Government. His successor
          as minister vowed to continue IIe reform eLort. A foreign
          wire service reported IIat at his inauguration, IIe new
          minister declared it is no art to allow only IIose to speak who
          agree wiII us”.
          13. Inrelated developments, students at Tehran university
          held several large rallies during which strong criticism of IIe
          system was expressed. While IIere had been opposition to
          IIeir being held, IIe Government appears to have intervened
          on only one occasion. Moreover, during IIis period, IIe
          extrajudicial group Ansar-e Hezbollah, which has a record
          of trying to break up reformist public meetings, appears to
          have been less in evidence, alIIough IIere was at least one
          recorded attack on a meeting of university students in a
          Tehran park. There were also reports in April of unidentified
          groups disrupting Friday prayers in Isfahan, and of IIe failure
          of IIe judiciary to prosecute IIose concerned.
          14. The Iranian media are clearly continuing to have a
          diffcult time. On IIe one hand, IIere is in practice widespread
          freedom of expression; on IIe oIIer, IIe lawful constraints
          upon IIat freedom have yet to be defined clearly and to be
          regulated by a truly independent tribunal committed to IIe
          application and enforcement of IIe law.
          15. Freedom of expression remains a principal field of
          contention between two groups of leaders wiII strongly
          differing visions of Iranian society; one seeks significant
          respect for ffleedom of expression and related liberties.
          11/. Status of women
          16. In IIe period from January to August 1998, IIe status
          of women in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran did not appear to
          improve in any significant way
          17. According to foreign wire services, IIere continued to
          be occasional harassment of young women by Tehran police
          and extrajudicial groups for failing to conform to IIe
          appropriate dress code. In February, a foreign wire service
          reported IIe issuance of stricter dress code requirements for
          women as well as provisions for prison tenns of three monIIs
          to one year, fines and IIe inflicting of up to 74 lashes.
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          18. In January 1998, a foreign wire service reported IIat
          the Majlis had rejected a bill IIat would have provided for
          equal inheritance rights for men and women. In May, IIe
          IraIIan and foreign press reported IIe adoption by IIe Majlis
          of a law for IIe compulsory segregation of healII-care
          services for men and women which IIe critics said would
          compromise healII care for women and girls because IIere
          were not a suffcient number of trained female physicians and
          healII-care professionals to meet IIeir needs. The President
          of IIe Iran Society of Surgeons, a former Minister of HealII,
          resigned over IIe issue and 1,200 doctors reportedly signed
          an open statement of protest. The proposal was also opposed
          by IIe Ministry of HealII. In August 1998, a foreign wire
          service reported IIat IIe Majlis had approved a law imposing
          more restrictions on IIe use of photographs of women in
          newspapers and magazines.
          19. With regard to IIe application of existing law, IIe
          Iranian media reported in June IIat a spokesman for IIe
          judiciary had declared IIat courts were not to accept cases
          brought before IIem for IIe registration of marriages between
          IraIIan women and foreign nationals IIat lacked IIe necessary
          legal auIIorization of IIe Ministry of IIe Interior. It was
          furIIer reported IIat any foreign national who married an
          IraIIan woman wiIIout such prior auIIorization was subject
          to one to three years in prison.
          20. InIIe offcial journal, No. 15,468, of6 April 1998, it
          was reported IIat on 3 February 1998 IIe Supreme Council
          had taken a decision IIat IIe Islamic Republic of Iran would
          not accede to IIe Convention on IIe Elimination of All Forms
          of Discrimination against Women.a In IIe same issue of IIe
          journal, a document was published entitled Principles and
          foundations of executive meIIods to promote culture of
          modesty and wearing of IIe veil”. This document declared
          IIat, among oIIer steps, IIe culture of modesty and wearing
          of IIe veil must be observed in city planning and
          architecture”, and IIat IIe chador must be respected as IIe
          most complete and IIe most commonly used veil”.
          21. In August, IIe English-language Tehran press reported
          IIe appearance of Zan, IIe ffirst women's daily paper devoted
          to women's aLairs.
          22. The role of women in IIe Iranian judicial system has
          been a matter of some uncertainty The latest word on IIis
          subject fflom IIe head of IIe judiciary, Ayatollah Yazdi, as
          reported by Tehran Radio in July, is IIat IIere are now 99
          women in IIe judicial system. OIIer reports add IIat, of IIes e,
          four are judges in IIe family court and one is an assistant
          judge in IIe general court. So far however, no woman
          presides over trials or pronounces verdicts.
          23. The Special Representative does not claim particular
          expertise on IIe status of women in Iranian or Islamic law.
          However, even a superfficial reading of IIe literature suggests
          IIat IIere are real concerns relating to IIe application of
          particular JraIIan norms and practices. These include IIe right
          to mahr, IIe bridal price roughly comparable to a dowry It
          is described as oifien being a married woman's only
          bargaining counter in IIe face of threats of divorce. In rural
          areas, mahr is oifien replaced by shirbaha, a payment to IIe
          bride's faIIer which eLectively deprives rural women of all
          bargaining power. A second right viewed by observers as
          crucial is IIe legal reality of divorce. While men can divorce
          at will, women have to meet one of 12 specific criteria.
          Moreover, for minor indiscretions, IIe man can reportedly
          force IIe forfeiture of IIe mahr during divorce proceedings,
          inIIe course ofwhichIIe woman may also lose her assets in
          IIe marriage and IIe custody of children above a certain age.
          Long delays in granting divorce to women can also occur. In
          January, IIe Prosecutor-General was quoted in a London-
          based Farsi newspaper as saying divorce could take up to 15
          years. A IIird area of widespread concern is what might be
          called IIe autonomy of dress. Many argue for a more flexible
          view of what Islam requires in terms of hejab, raIIer IIan an
          insistence on IIe full chador, a garment viewed by many as
          singularly inconvenient and uncomfortable, and as only one
          of many traditional forms of hejab in Iranian society There
          is also strong resentment at IIe implementation of IIe dress
          code by a variety of judicial and extrajudicial agencies, and
          atIIe excesses of punishment meted out for sometimes minor
          iitingements. Reportedly, over IIe years, IIese have involved
          whippings and worse. For his part, IIe Special Representative
          has repeatedly pointed out IIe grossly oLensive manner in
          which IIe dress code is on occasion enforced. A fourth area
          of concern is IIe reported lack in practice of a prompt and
          effective avenue through which a wife can get round a
          husband's withholding of consent which, in medical situations
          in particular, can jeopardize successififi treatment and
          sometimes IIe life of IIe wife. Existing recourse to IIe courts
          even in medical cases is in practice oifien a highly drawn-out
          process.
          24. The Special Representative suggests IIatinterms of IIe
          immediate interests of IIose most aLected — IIe women of IIe
          Islamic Republic of Iran — IIe discourse should focus in IIe
          first place on such everyday needs of women. In IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran, change remains boII urgent and necessary
          and IIe steps mentioned above would constitute an important
          ffirst step in addressing IIe discrimination faced by women.
          In IIe view of IIe Special Representative, leadership by IIe
          Government in IIis fleld remains one of IIe critical
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          touchstones for IIe overall improvement of human rights in
          IIe Islamic Republic of Iran.
          V. Legal subjects
          A. The legal system
          25. The recent celebrated trials of IIe Mayor of Tehran,
          Gholam Hossein Karbaschi, and his colleagues touched oL
          an intense public debate about IIe conduct of trials and,
          particularly, IIe appropriate role ofjudges. The conclusion
          seems to have been IIat IIe existing process had major flaws
          and IIat IIe system had to be refonned. An Iranian periodical
          carried a more broadly based critique of IIe search for a civil
          society and IIe Iranian judicial system, concluding IIat a
          major overhaul of boII IIe judiciary and IIe relevant
          legislation was a prerequisite of IIe establishment of a civil
          society in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran.
          26. The Special Representative had occasion in IIe period
          under review to discuss wiII IIe Iranian Prosecutor-General,
          Ayatollah Moghtadai, IIe reform of IIe legal system. The
          Special Representative was IIformed IIat (a) amendments to
          IIe existing law on IIe public and revolutionary courts were
          to go to IIe Majlis shortly; (b) training of judges was to be
          improved by requiring prospective judges to have an
          undergraduate degree before entering IIe judicial college; and
          (c) a judicial inspectorate of very senior judges had been
          established wiII a OEweeping mandate” for review and reform
          in each judicial complex of matters such as procedure,
          treatment of oLenders and prioritization of court cases. So far,
          IIe process had been completed at two judicial complexes
          wiII what was described as significant success. WiII regard
          to IIe right to a lawyer, IIe Prosecutor-General volunteered
          that, regrettably”, some judges had resisted IIis
          development, particularly in IIe Revolutionary Courts. This
          has now been overcome and should it come to light in IIe
          course of review IIat a defendant has not been represented,
          IIe case will be sent back for retrial. If IIe defendant wants
          to defend himself or has no money to pay for a lawyer, IIe
          Court will instruct IIe Bar Association to appoint a lawyer.
          When asked about allegations IIat lawyers do not always
          defend IIeir client vigorously or independently, IIe
          Prosecutor-General agreed to receive complaints in IIis
          regard. He was at IIe moment pursuing one such case wiII
          IIe Bar Association.
          B. Independent Bar Association
          27. In response to a question fflom IIe Special
          Representative concerning IIe openness of IIe long-promised
          elections for IIe executive of IIe Bar Association, finally held
          in December 1997, IIe Prosecutor-General denied reports
          IIat candidates had to have been approved by the Guardian
          Council, but did acknowledge that certain qualifications were
          required. In August, an Iranian paper reported a written
          protest by IIe Bar Association to Ayotallah Yazdi over IIe
          threats by IIe judge in IIe Karabaschi case to expel IIe
          defendant's lawyer. Also in August, an Iranian paper
          published IIe text of a detailed letter by IIe Bar Association
          to the Minister of Justice describing IIe weaknesses of IIe
          general courts system and setting out a number of important
          provisions that should be included in proposed amendments
          to IIe legislation.
          C. Executions
          28. Executions, as reported in IIe Iranian press in IIe
          period under review, have probably continued at a fairly high
          level. The Iranian auIIorities have now agreed to cooperate
          wiII IIe Special Representative in IIe provision of requested
          statistics. In IIe meantime, IIey insist IIat, excluding
          convicted drug traffckers, IIe figure is much lower IIan
          reported, perhaps by half The Special Representative hopes
          to be able to include oLicial statistics on IIis matter in his
          next report.
          D. The prison system
          29. The Special Representative had occasion to meet
          Morteza Bakhtiari, IIe newly appointed Director-General of
          IIe Prisons Organization, Public Protection and Prison
          Education. The prison system had been subjected to much
          criticism in IIe past boII by IIe Special Representative and
          his predecessor, by IIe witness of former IImates and by non-
          governmental organizations and oIIers concerned wiII IIe
          treatment of prisoners inIIe Islamic Republic of Iran.
          30. Mr. Bakhtiari brings a new face and, it appears, a new
          approach to IIe task of reforming Iranian prisons. In IIe
          course of conversation, IIe following information was
          supplied. There are about 150,000 prisoners in IIe oLicial
          prison system of whom about 63 per cent were incarcerated
          for narcotics-related oLences. This percentage becomes
          higher closer to IIe Afghanistan/Pakistan border; in Kerman
          IIe ffigure is 82 per cent. It has now been decided to transfer
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          narcotics-related prisoners, if IIey agree, to newly established
          dedicated centres of which two are currently operating and
          a furIIer 26 will be in operationbyIIe end of IIe year. The
          governing ratio is 70 acres of land for each 500 prisoners.
          These centres will have a wide variety of facilities designed
          for rehabilitation.
          31. WiII regard to oIIer changes, Mr. Bakhtiari said IIat
          IIe Prisons OrgaIIzation was (a) establishing a five-year plan
          for development; (b) establishing or strengIIening human
          resource development such as academic scholarship
          programmes for social work train (c) gradually recruiting
          professionally trained guard staL; (d) introducing twice-a-
          year workshops wiII all IIe provincial directors of prisons
          focusing on legal matters and in particular IIe United Nations
          Standard Minimum Rules for IIe Treatment of Prisoners ;b and
          (e) preparing a new prison law which would emphasize
          rehabilitation and introduce IIe United Nations Standard
          Minimum Rules into Iranian law.
          32. In response to questions about oIIer detention centres,
          oifien known for IIeir mistreatment of detainees, Mr. Bakhtiari
          said IIat a senior task force had been established in IIe
          judiciary, including himself, to root out illegal detention
          centres”. WiII regard to IIe mistreatment of prisoners, Mr.
          Bakhtiari declared such treatment was anti-Islamic and IIat
          every person detained or imprisoned on any ground should
          receive treatment according to law.
          33. The Special Representative welcomes IIe prospect of
          serious improvement of IIe Iranian prison system, and looks
          forward to following IIe implementation of IIese long-
          overdue reforms.
          E. Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
          treatment or punishment
          34. In his recent reports, IIe Special Representative has
          been addressing certain punishments used in IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran IIat are generally considered to fall wiIIin
          IIis category One of IIese is stoning. In March 1998, an
          Iranian daily carried a report about a news conference in
          which a senior oLicial, in response to a question about why
          he had not defended IIe practice of stoning during interviews
          outside IIe country, said IIat we should keep IIe interests
          of our country in mind in an open atmosphere of international
          public relations. Would it be in our interest if an act of stoning
          is filmed and broadcast abroad? If not, we should consider
          carrying out IIe verdict in front of a small crowd of IIe
          believers in order to forestall public backlash”. To IIe Special
          Representative's knowledge, IIis is IIe first recent occasion
          on which such a senior offcial has spoken about IIis form of
          punishment. The Special Representative notes with regret
          such evident approval for IIis form of punishment fflom such
          a source in IIe executive. The Special Representative again
          calls upon IIe Government to abolish the practice of stoning.
          35. It has come to IIe attention of IIe Special
          Representative IIat Iranian courts have on occasion
          apparently sentenced persons to blinding. A foreign wire
          service carried such a story, dated 4 January1998, wiIIout
          providing IIe name of IIe individual or IIe place where IIe
          sentence was meted out. Even as retribution for a crime IIat
          had involved an act of blinding, IIere can be no justification
          for such a punishment as so clearly falls wiIIin IIe
          international definition of cruel, inhuman or degrading
          punishment. The Government advises IIat IIis sentence has
          been revoked.
          36. WiII regard to amputation, IIe Special Representative
          notes that according to IIe Iranian press and foreign wire
          services, amputation continues to be a judicially imposed
          punishment, chiefly, it would seem, for IIose convicted of
          repeated IIeifi. The Government advises IIat, in practice, no
          amputation punishments are now being carried out.
          37. In IIis report, IIe Special Representative wishes to pay
          some attention to IIe subject of torture. Torture appears to
          have had a long history in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran; it was
          certainly widely practised in IIe Pahlavi era. It is frequently
          alleged IIat it has continued since IIat time. WiIIout going
          back over IIe period covered by his predecessors, IIe Special
          Representative wishes to observe IIat IIere appears to be
          much credible evidence in support of such allegations. Since
          his assumption of IIe mandate, IIe Special Representative has
          received many such allegations, most, but not all, referring
          to IIe period before he took offce. The Special
          Representative has no reason to doubt IIat many ofIIese have
          a basis in fact. In its occasional comments on IIe subject, IIe
          Government has until now simply declared IIat torture is
          banned by IIe Constitution. Speciffic allegations brought to
          its attention were denied. Allegations of torture have not been
          mentioned in IIe Iranian press.
          38. Recently, however, IIere have been several positive
          developments. The ffirst is that allegations of torture,
          apparently used to elicit information or a confession, are now
          being openly reported in IIe Iranian press, perhaps most
          notably in IIe aifiennaII of IIe recent trial of Gholamhossain
          Karbaschi, IIe IIen Mayor of Tehran, and his colleagues.
          Second, foreign wire services, quoting Iranian press stories,
          reported IIat in response to IIese allegations, 152 deputies
          in IIe Majlis had sent a letter to IIe Supreme Leader
          Ayatollah KhamaII requesting a high-level inquiry into IIem.
          8
        
          
          A/53/423
          Third, as mentioned in paragraph 48 below, IIe Islamic
          Human Rights Commission has recently seemed to be taking
          allegations of torture seriously FourII, an Iranian paper
          reported in July IIat IIe Commander of IIe State Security
          Forces Protection and Intelligence Department had declared
          IIat 10 or 12 suits had been filed against IIe security forces
          for torture and physical and psychological violence.
          39. The existence of torture has been conffirmed by
          witnesses who have appeared recently before IIe Special
          Representative, testifying to extreme physical abuse at
          particular detention centres in Tehran during IIe period under
          review.
          40. The Special Representative views IIese developments
          wiII considerable hope. That such allegations are now part
          of IIe public discourse is an important first step towards
          doing away wiII IIis gross invasion of personal integrity —
          IIis violation of basic human rights.
          VI. Situation of the Baha'is
          41. During IIe reporting period, IIe Special Representative
          continued to receive reports of IIe violation of IIe human
          rights of Baha'is, forcing him to conclude IIat IIe pattern of
          persecution of members of IIis community has not abated.
          42. According to information received by IIe Special
          Representative (see appendix II), a Baha'i prisoner in
          Mashad, Ruhu'ulah Rowhani, was executed on 21 July 1998,
          after having served nine monIIs in solitary confinement
          reportedly on charges of unlawfully attempting to convert a
          woman to IIe Baha' i faiII. Three oIIer Baha'is were reported
          to have also been sentenced to deaII in Mashad. Aifier first
          denying IIe reports, IIe Iranian auIIorities subsequently
          acknowledged IIat he had been executed. They asserted IIat
          IIe case had nothing to do wiII conversion, IIat he had been
          convicted instead of spying for Israel, and IIat IIis was IIe
          IIird occasion on which he was found to have been engaged
          in this activity The auIIorities stated IIat IIe deaII sentences
          against IIe oIIer three Baha' is who had been convicted of IIe
          same oLence had been liified, as IIis was IIeir ffirst oLence.
          43. ItwasreportedIIatsinceNovember 1997,12 Baha'is
          had been imprisoned and 6 released. According to
          information received, by IIe end of July 1998, 15 Baha' is
          remained in detention in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran, charged
          with such activities as holding meetings and teaching IIeir
          faith, or allegedly engaging in espionage activities of one sort
          or anoIIer.
          44. There continuedto be reports of violations of IIe basic
          human right of Baha'is to enjoy fflee and peaceful association,
          to be fflee fflom IIe confiscation and destruction of individual
          and community Baha'i property, and to be free fflom
          discrimination wiII regard to access to education,
          employment, pensions and oIIer public beneffits, as well as
          reports of IIe denial of oIIer fundamental rights and
          freedoms, including, inter alia, IIe freedom of movement.
          45. The Special Representative once again urges IIe
          Government of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran to improve its
          treatment of IIe Baha'i community and, speciffically, to refflain
          fflom ordering IIe deaII penalty for religious oLences; to liifi
          IIe ban on Baha' i orgaIIzations so that Baha'is may associate
          ffleely; to put an end to discrimination against Baha' is in all
          spheres of public life and services; to eLect IIe return of
          confiscated personal and community Baha'i property; to
          institute IIe reconstruction of destroyed places of worship
          wherever possible or, at a minimum, ensure IIe provision of
          appropriate compensation to IIe Baha'i community; to liifi
          restrictions regarding IIe burial and honouring of IIe dead;
          and to eliminate from passport application forms questions
          concerning religion so as to avoid undue infflingements on IIe
          ffleedom of movement.
          46. The Special Representative once again urges IIe
          Government of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran to implement IIe
          outstanding recommendations of IIe Special Rapporteur on
          religious intolerance.
          VII. Other important matters
          A. Islamic Human Rights Commission
          47. In previous reports, IIe Special Representative had
          noted IIe reports he had received of IIe activities of IIe
          Islamic Human Rights Commission. He made
          recommendations for IIeir extension and, in particular, for
          more detailed reporting on IIe allegations received by IIe
          Commission and IIeir disposition, and on human rights
          developments generally in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran.
          48. In March 1998, a foreign wire service carried a report,
          based probably on a Tehran press conference, of the
          Commission's Secretary-General, Mohammad Hassan Ziaifar.
          In this report, Mr. Ziaifar gave important information. There
          had been 2,450 complaints to IIe Commission in IIe past
          year, half of IIem from women and 50 per cent of IIem
          against IIe police. The Commission had probed complaints
          fflom religious minorities notably IIe Baha' is”. Mr. Ziaifar
          acknowledged IIere were widespread human rights violations
          in IIe Islamic Republic of Irai , stating: Torture and violence
          have no aLinity wiII Islam.” He complained about IIe
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          A/53/423
          detention centres run by diLerent government organizations.
          The Commission had began to educate police and security
          oLicers as well as prison guards and judges about
          international and Islamic concepts of human rights. We are
          aifier a cohesive, lawififi and organized system to investigate
          and prove violations. We do not want to create a conflict
          between IIe Western notion of human rights and IIe Islamic
          one. We are aifier common ground. Human rights do not know
          borders. You caimot draw a fence around it.” In a July report
          attributed to Tehran dailies, Mr. Ziaifar again spoke of IIe
          need for reform, particularly wiII regard to IIe use of
          coercion to obtain confessions.
          49. The Special Representative welcomes what seems to
          be a new openness on IIe part of IIe Islamic Commission, and
          in particular a greater focus on IIe human rights situation
          within IIe Islamic Republic of Iran. He recommends IIat
          IIese trends be appropriately institutionalized and publicized
          as part ofIIe process ofIIe Commission's becoming a truly
          independent national agency for IIe promotion and protection
          of human rights in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran. He also
          suggests IIat a national action plan for human rights be
          developed.
          B. Situation of certain religious minorities
          50. Inhis reportto IIe 1998 session ofIIe Commission on
          Human Rights, IIe Special Representative expressed his view
          on what constitutes a minority by referring to IIe deffinition
          set out some years ago by Special Rapporteur Francisco
          Capotorti.c This deffinition is at odds wiII IIe view of IIe
          Iranian Government IIat religious minorities are defined
          constitutionally in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran, and IIat its
          constitutional definition does not, for example, encompass IIe
          Sunnis or certain oIIer groups. The Special Representative
          continues to believe IIat in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran,
          groups meeting IIe Capotorti deffinition face discrimination
          — in some cases religious and in oIIers ethnic or linguistic.
          He had hoped to pursue IIe matter in IIe course of a visit to
          IIe Islamic Republic of Iran, but IIe absence of IIe
          cooperation of IIe Government in IIis regard precluded IIis.
          51. As regards IIe general subject of minority rights, IIe
          Special Representative wishes to draw attention to IIe latest
          Commission on Human Rights resolution IIereon, namely
          Commission resolution 1998/18 entitled Implementation of
          IIe Declaration on IIe Elimination of All Fonns of Intolerance
          and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief', adopted
          on 9 April1998.
          52. According to information coming to IIe Special
          Representative's attention from Zoroastrian and Christian
          sources in particular, even IIe recognized minorities believe
          IIey face discrimination in civil society. Allegations include
          IIe diLiculty of obtaining government employment; IIe
          requirement placed upon shops to have a window sign
          reading, Designated for religious minorities”, which,
          oLicially, should apply only to food shops in IIe context of
          halal food, but which in practice is used to discourage Muslim
          customers; and IIe awarding of substantial damages in
          automobile accident claims if IIe driver was a person of a
          religious minority and IIe victim a Muslim but very low
          awards for cases where IIe reverse obtains. More generally,
          it is asserted IIat all minorities, especially religious
          minorities, are by law or practice barred fflom being elected
          to a representative body (except as regards IIe reserved seats
          in the Majlis), fflom becoming a school principal and from
          holding senior government or military positions.
          53. In his last report to IIe General Assembly (A/52/47 2,
          of 15 October 1997), IIe Special Representative commented
          on the allegations he had received from Sunni sources,
          particularlyIIe Baluch, concerning IIe destruction of Sunni
          schools and mosques, and IIe imprisonment, execution and
          assassination of SunII leaders. Some ofIIese allegations were
          and are quite specific. There are also charges of
          socio-economic discrimination and repression, and
          transmigration policies IIat risk turning IIe Baluch into a
          minority in IIeir traditional lands.
          54. The Government has made it clear IIat it does not
          regard IIe Sunnis, as fellow Muslims, to be a minority in
          Iranian society nor are IIey discriminated against owing to
          IIeir beliefs. The Special Representative has been furIIer
          IIfonnedIIatIIere are at least one judge and one provincial
          governor, and six or eight members of IIe Majlis, who are
          Sunnis.
          55. The Special Representative is satisfied IIat IIe Sunni
          community and IIe Baluch in particular may well be subject
          to unacceptable treatment and he calls upon IIe Government
          to address IIe situation as a systemic problem raIIer than
          insist upon IIe details of particular incidents.
          C. Narcotics control
          56. The subject of narcotics control has been much
          discussed in IIe period under review. As noted above, Iranian
          sources advise IIat nationally, 63 per cent of about 150,000
          prisoners have been convicted of drug-related oLences (see
          para. 30 above). These prisoners are now being separated into
          separate dedicated centres.
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          A/53/423
          57. In January, an Iranian newspaper, quoting a statement
          of IIe Metropolitan Tehran police force, reported IIat 21,861
          drug dealers and addicts had been arrested over IIe previous
          nine monIIs. In February, IIe Iranian press reported an
          announcement by IIe Prosecutor-General, Ayatollah
          Moghtadai, IIat IIe punishment for drug traffcking had
          increased between two- and tenfold. In July, IIe Economist
          magazine described IIe narcotics crisis facing IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran in terms of IIe struggle to control IIe entry
          of narcotics fflom AfghaIIstan and Pakistan. Almost 175 tons
          had been seized on IIe borders wiII IIose countries in IIe last
          year, up fflom perhaps 30 tons in 1990. The Economist noted
          IIat, according to oLicial statistics, IIere were 500,000
          addicts in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran but, also, IIat private
          estimates were higher.
          58. The allegation is made fflom time to time IIat in its war
          on drugs, IIe Government sets aside human rights
          considerations or, worse, that it uses drug traffcking charges
          as a pretext for executing political prisoners. The Government
          has denied such charges. During IIe period under review IIe
          Special Representative has again received such an allegation.
          By IIeir very nature, such allegations are diLicult to prove or
          disprove in IIe circumstances IIat exist in IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran. The Government advises IIat capital
          punishment is now only imposed in IIe case of ringleaders.
          D. Extraterritorial violence
          59. In IIe period under review, IIe Istanbul Court of Appeal
          upheld IIe conviction of an Iranian national, one Reza
          Barzegar Massoumi, for complicity in IIe murder in Istanbul
          in 1996 of Zahra Rajabi and Ali Moradi, boII associated wiII
          IIe National Council of Resistance (NCR). Four members of
          the Iranian Consulate General in Istanbul had earlier been
          declared personae non gratae by IIe Turkish Government.
          In Rome, Italian security auIIorities reportedly continue IIeir
          investigation into IIe assassination in Rome on 16 March
          1993 of Mohammad Aossein Naghdi, IIe representative in
          Italy of IIe National Council of Resistance.
          60. The Government of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran has
          consistently denied all allegations about involvement in such
          murders of Iranian dissidents abroad. The Special
          Representative notes IIat no new incidents of IIe type
          described above have come to his attention in IIe period
          under review.
          61. Violence also continued against Iranian armed groups
          on IIe Iraqi side of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran/Iraq border.
          These attacks are not generally denied by IIe Iranian
          Government which describes IIem raIIer as legitimate self-
          defence measures. Given IIe uncertainty over IIe definition
          of IIe conditions usually attached to IIe exercise of IIis right
          at international law, wiII regard boII to IIe existence of a real
          andpresent danger, andIIe principle of proportionality, it is
          diLicult to come to unequivocal conclusions in most such
          cases.
          62. Within IIe Islamic Republic of Iran, it should be noted
          IIat IIe National Council of Resistance has accepted
          responsibility for a July bombing in Tehran in which a
          number of persons were killed whom IIe National Council
          of Resistance asserts were judicial oLicials; IIis assertion is
          denied by IIe Iranian Government. In August, IIe same
          organization claimed responsibility for assassinating
          Asadollah Lajevardi, IIe former Director-General of IIe
          Iranian Prisons Organization. Two oIIer persons were
          reportedly also killed in IIe incident.
          63. The Special Representative condemns political violence
          among Iranians whether inside or outside IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran.
          E. Democracy
          64. The Special Representative would note two prospective
          events inIIis regard. The first is IIe 23 October election on
          a universal suffage basis of IIe Council of Experts, IIe body
          IIat under IIe Constitution is responsible for selecting IIe
          Supreme Leader and, by implication, removing him. Senior
          Iranian off cials state IIat in recent years a 15-member
          commission of IIe Council charged wiII monitoring and
          advising IIe Supreme Leader has come to play an active role
          inIIe governance process. The second event is IIe prospect
          of IIe implementation for IIe first time of IIe constitutional
          provisions for local elected councils at IIe village, city and
          provincial levels.
          VIII. Conclusions
          65. On several occasions in IIe past, IIe Special
          Representative has drawn attention to IIe need for greater
          tolerance on IIe part of IIe Government of IIe Islamic
          Republic oflrantowards its own citizens. Certainly, IIis view
          appears to be shared by President Khatami as reflected in his
          public statements. In a speech at IIe end of July to IIe heads
          of education departments in IIe country, IIe President
          declared IIat a religion IIat respects man ffirst respects his
          freedom, a divine right of human beings”. Later IIe same
          week in a ceremony at IRNA IIe President was quoted as
          saying I am trying today to defend people's rights on IIe
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          A/53/423
          basis of religion and ffleedom. We must defend IIe rights of
          an individual who does not even recognize my religion.” It
          is difficult to doubt IIat IIese aspirations are sincerely felt
          but, as IIis report seeks to suggest, a tolerant society is still
          very much a work in progress. The general goals IIat IIe
          Islamic Republic of Iran should have before it in IIis regard
          were most recently reiterated by IIe Commission on Human
          Rights in its resolution 1998/21 entitled Tolerance and
          pluralism as indivisible elements in IIe promotion and
          protection of human rights”, adopted 9 April1998.
          66. In IIis report, IIe Special Representative identiffies
          most of IIe areas he believes to be critical for IIe attainment
          of IIe declared goals of IIe President of IIe Islamic Republic
          of Iran. As noted, some quantiffiable progress has been seen
          in some of IIese areas; in oIIers, progress is not so evident,
          at least to an observer outside IIe country While determined
          eLorts are being made byIIe executive inIIe area of freedom
          of expression, for example, IIe same eLorts are not evident
          with regard to IIe status of women. Measurable eLorts to
          improve IIe legal system are only just beginning. The
          condition of religious and eIInic minorities must have a place
          in IIe agenda of IIe Government.
          67. The Iranian tendency towards violence does not
          facilitate — nor does IIe frequent use of national security as
          a basis for derogating fflom basic rights of IIe individual — IIe
          mutual respect IIat is inherent in a tolerant society Somehow
          two sets of values must be brought into a degree of balance
          reflecting IIe rights of IIe individual on IIe one hand, and IIe
          rights of society and IIe State on IIe oIIer. The prevailing
          level of violence in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran conffirms IIat
          IIis balance has yet to be achieved.
          68. In short, IIe Special Representative believes IIat a will
          exists on IIe part of many leaders in IIe Islamic Republic of
          Iran to move IIe society towards a more tolerant and more
          peaceififi condition. The obstacles to be overcome in achieving
          IIis goal are very evident and success is by no means assured.
          In IIe meantime, significant violations of human rights
          continue. The Government needs to broaden its agenda for
          change and to declare a strong commitment to achieving
          certain goals within speciffied time-fflames.
          Notes
          a General Assembly resolution 34/180, annex.
          First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime
          and the Treatment of Offenders, Geneva, 22 August—
          3 September 1955: report prepared by the Secretariat
          (United Nations publication, Sales No. 1956.IV.4), annex I,
          sect. A.
          Francisco Capotorti, Study on the right of persons
          belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities”
          (E/CN.4/Sub.2384 and Add.l—7), 30 June 1997.
          Appendix I
          Freedom of expression
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          A/53/423
          1. Tn February it was reported in an Iranian newspaper that IIe clerics court had sentenced
          Abolfazi Moussavian, editor of Nameyeh Mofid, to one year in prison on charges of publishing
          and propagating false information.
          2. Tn March, a foreign wire service reported IIat Iranian publisher Akbar Ganji had been
          sentenced to one year in prison aifier being found guilty of publishing false news in IIe monIIly
          Rah-e No. Ganji had denied IIe charges and demanded a jury trial open to IIe public. Ganji
          was subsequently released. Tn May, a foreign wire service reported IIat Fereydoun Verdinejad,
          IIe Director-General of IRNA, had been summoned to answer unspeciffied charges before
          IIe press tribunal.
          3. Tn July IIe Tehran English-language press aimounced IIat IIe Press Council had issued
          permission for IIe appearance of 13 new publications.
          13
        
          
          A/53/423
          Appendix II
          Situation of the Baha'is
          1. Tn his last report to IIe Commission, IIe Special Representative had drawn attention
          to IIe case of Mansour Haddadan. The Permanent Mission of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran
          to IIe United Nations responded IIat he had been arrested on charges of organizing
          unauIIorized and illegal meetings and acting against national security In accordance wiII
          due process of law, he was tried by a competent court and benefited from a defence lawyer.
          The court found him guilty of IIe charges and he was sentenced to ffive years' imprisonment.
          The verdict was also reaffrmed by IIe court of appeal of Khorassan Province”.
          2. The Special Representative has received information indicating IIat verdicts were
          reached by IIe Court of Appeals in Khurasan on 18 September 1997 concerning IIe cases
          of two Baha' is, Jamali' d-Din Hajipur and Mansur Mihrabi, referred to in his report to IIe
          Commission. The joint verdict of IIe Appeals Court, dated 18 September 1997, aLirmed IIe
          lower court finding of guilt on grounds that IIe Baha' i faiII constituted an illegal organization
          which posed a threat to IIe internal security of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran.
          3. On 27 July 1998, IIe Special Representative wrote to IIe Minister of Foreign ALairs
          to express his regret over IIe reported execution of Ruhu'ullah Rawhani, a Baha'i fflom
          Mashad, in relation to charges of having converted a woman to IIe Baha'i faiII. He also
          expressed his concern about IIe three oIIer Baha'i citizens detained in Mashad, Ata'ullah
          HamidNasirizadih, Sims Dhabini-Muqaddam and Hidayat-Kashifi Najabadi, who had been
          sentenced to deaII. The Special Representative drew IIe attention of IIe Government of IIe
          Islamic Republic of Iran to its obligations pursuant to article 6 (2) of IIe International
          Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,a which provides IIat IIe deaII penalty may be imposed
          only for IIe most serious crimes in accordance wiII the law in force at IIe time of IIe
          commission of IIe crime. The Special Representative also expressed his concern IIat IIe
          religious beliefs of IIe accused may have been a persuasive factor in IIe eyes of IIe court,
          and may have prevented IIe accused from receiving a fair trial according to international
          human rights standards. The Special Representative refened also to IIe obligations incumbent
          upon IIe Government concerning IIe right to fair trial as set out in article 14 of IIe Covenant,
          and requested IIe Government's urgent intervention to ensure IIat IIe reported deaII
          sentences would not be carried out. The Special Representative requested IIe Government
          not to allow IIe imposition of IIe deaII penalty wiIIout due legal process in ff11 conformity
          wiII international human rights standards.
          4. It appears IIat pressures on Baha' is fflom IIe judiciary have increased. NeiIIer Baha' i
          marriage nor divorce is legally recognized in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran, and IIe right of
          Baha'is to inherit is denied. The ffleedom of Baha'is to travel outside or inside IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran continues to be impeded by IraIIan auIIorities or has been denied altogeIIer.
          Notes
          a See General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
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          A/53/423
          Appendix III
          Correspondence between the Government of the Islamic
          Republic of Iran and the Special Representative,
          January—August 1998
          1. During IIe reporting period, correspondence between IIe Special Representative and
          IIe Permanent Representative of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran to IIe United Nations OLice
          at Geneva was exchanged, some of which concerned requests for IIfonnation about individual
          allegations. The Special Representative appealed to IIe Iranian Government to ensure IIat
          IIose aLectedbeneffited fflom all IIe internationally recognized safeguards, particularly IIose
          provided for in IIe International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsa or oIIer relevant
          international human rights instruments, for example, IIe Convention on IIe Rights of IIe
          Childb andIIe United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for IIe Administration of Juvenile
          Justice (IIe Beijing Rules).c
          2. WiII regard to speciffic cases, IIe Special Representative received a letter dated 28 May
          1 998 from IIe Permanent Mission of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran to IIe United Nations
          providing infonnation on six persons refened to in IIe Special Representative's report to IIe
          Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1998/59 of 28 January 1998). The Special
          Representative noted IIat Kalimollah Tohid, a well-known Kurdish scientist and writer, had
          been arrested in Mashad and IIat noIIing fflirIIer had been heard of him. In its letter of 28
          May1998, IIe Permanent Mission informed IIe Special Representative IIat Mr. Tohid had
          been sentenced to one year's imprisonment by IIe Court in Mashad on 15 October 1997 for
          falsification but IIat on 19 February 1998, he was pardoned and released.
          3. Tn a section of his Commission report dealing wiII IIe treatment of religious dissidents,
          IIe Special Representative referred to IIe treatment of certain dissident Shia clerics, mainly
          in Qum, and drew attention to information he had received IIat two furIIer supporters of
          Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, Syed ArefNassrollah and Theqatol Islam Bagirzadeh, were arrested
          in Qum on 15 October1997 by agents of IIe clergy courts. The Permanent Mission in its 28
          May letter stated IIat:
          Mr. Syed Aref Nassrollah was arrested on charges of smuggling 2,000
          handwritten old books out of Iran, assisting people to leave IIe country illegally, and
          using a fake car plate. He was later released on bail on 6 September1997. His case is
          under consideration.”
          4. The Special Representative also raised IIe issue of torture, and cruel, degrading and
          inhuman punishment in connection wiII a number of sentences ordering IIe amputation of
          fingers of persons found guilty In particular, IIe Special Representative drew attention to
          reports in Sa laam IIat, in September 1997, Branch 12 of Tehran's General Court had
          sentenced one Gholam Hossein to have four fingers amputated for stealing 28 cameras and
          camera equipment. The Special Representative referred also to reports of September 1997
          in Jomhouri-Islami that Gotvand General Court had sentenced Asghar Ghasemi and Farhad
          Heidari to have IIeir hands amputated for robbery and forgery In its 28 May letter, IIe
          Pennanent Mission of IIe Islamic Republic of Iran to IIe UnitedNations indicated IIat IIe
          sentence of Mr. Gholam Hossein had been rescinded on grounds IIat IIe owners of IIe stolen
          goods did not pursue IIeir case. The letter indicated that Asghar Ghasemi and Farhad Heidari
          had appealed and OEubsequently IIeir cases have been sent to IIe Supreme Court for review”.
          5. On 25 August 1998, IIe Special Representative addressed IIe Minister of Foreign
          ALairs concerning IIe arrest of Iranian scholar Hojatoleslam Sayyid Mohssen Saeidzadeh.
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          A/53/423
          According to information received by IIe Special Representative, Mr. Saeidzadeh had been
          arrested at his home by three plaincloIIes security oLicers who did not present a warrant and
          placed him in incommunicado detention. He was not provided wiII access to a lawyer or an
          opportunityto IIfonn or meet wiII family members. NeiIIer were criminal charges brought
          agaIIsthim. According toIIe Islamic HumanRights Commission, a case was being prepared
          against Mr. Saeidzadeh in a special court for IIe clergy
          6. In his letter of 25 August, IIe Special Representative referred to article 9 (1) of IIe
          International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides, inter alia, IIat no one
          shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, and to article 9 (2) of IIe Covenant which
          guarantees to anyone placed under arrest the right to be informed, at IIe time of IIe arrest,
          of IIe reasons for his arrest and to be promptly infonned of any charges against him. He furIIer
          reminded IIe Government of its obligations under article 9 (4) of IIe Covenant which provides
          that anyone deprived of his liberty by arrestor detention shall be entitled to take proceedings
          before a court of law in order IIat IIat court might decide wiIIout delay on IIe lawfulness of
          his detention and order his release in any case where IIe detention proves unlawful.
          7. The Special Representative also drew IIe Government's attention to article 14 of IIe
          International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides for a fair and public
          hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established bylaw, as well as for
          IIe accused to have IIe right to benefit from IIe services of a lawyer of his own choosing.
          Moreover, he expressed his deep concern IIat, based on IIe information available to him,
          Mr. Saeidzadeh's arrest appeared to have been related not to criminal activity, but to his
          intellectual endeavours and publicly expressed opiIIons. If this was indeed IIe case, his arrest
          would constitute a breach of article 19 of IIe Covenant, which guarantees IIe right to ffleedom
          of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of any
          kind. FurIIermore, IIe Special Representative requested IIat IIe Government provide any
          information IIat it could on this case, including on any steps taken by IIe competent auIIorities
          to guarantee Mr. Saeidzadeh's rights to liberty and security of person in compliance wiII IIe
          provisions contained in IIe relevant international legal instruments.
          8. The Special Representative continues to be concerned about IIe infrequency of
          responses fflom IIe Government and has raised IIe problem wiII IIe Iranian auIIorities wiII
          a view to improving cooperation in IIis area.
          Notes
          a See General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
          General Assembly resolution 44/25, annex.
          General Assembly resolution 40/33, annex.
          16
        
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Tagged as:

Free Speech, Gender Rights