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Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Report of the Special Representative, Maurice Danby Copithirne, submitted pursuant to Commission resolution 1999/13

E/CN.4/2000/35

          
          UNITED
          NATIONS
          Economic and Social Distr.
          Council
          GENERAL
          E/CN.4/2000/3 5
          18 January 2000
          Original: ENGLISH
          Fiifiy-sixth session
          Item 9 of the provisional agenda
          QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNI)AMENTAL
          FREEDOMS IN ANY PART OF THE WORLD
          Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
          Report of the Special Representative, Maurice Danby Copithorne ,
          submitted pursuant to Commission resolution 1999/13
          CONTENTS
          Paragraphs
          Executive summary 3
          Introduction 1 - 4
          I. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE' S
          ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES 5-7
          II. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION 8-16
          III. THE STATUS OF WOMEN 17-23
          S
          S
          6
          7
          E
          COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
          Page
          GE.00-10252 (E)
        
          
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          CONTENTS ( continued)
          Paragraphs Page
          IV. THE STATUS OF MINORITIES 24-32 9
          A. General 24 9
          B. Evangelical Protestants 25 - 27 9
          C. Baha'is 28-32 10
          V. LEGAL SUBJECTS 33 - 51 11
          A. Fairtrial 33-36 11
          B. Reform of the legal system 37 - 42 12
          C. Lawyers 43 13
          D. OEe prison system 44 - 45 13
          E. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or
          degrading treatment or punishment 46 - 51 14
          VI. DEMOCRACY/CIVIL SOCIETY 52- 57 14
          VII. DISAPPEARANCES AND SUSPICIOUS DEATHS 58-61 15
          VIII. OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS 62- 75 16
          A. Student demonstrations 62 - 65 16
          B. Treatment of Shia dissidents 66 - 68 17
          C. OEe Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) 69 - 71 18
          D. Drugs: a national and international problem 72 - 75 18
          IX. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF
          THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN 76-77 19
          X. CONCLUSIONS 78-81 19
          Annexes
          I. Information on the situation of the Baha'is 22
          II. Correspondence between the Special Representative and the
          Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran 23
        
          
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          Executive summary
          OEe mandate of the Special Representative is the human rights situation in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran. OEe Special Representative submits a report to the Commission on Human
          Rights at its annual session and an interim report to the General Assembly. The current report
          addresses the developments in the mandate since the last session of the Commission with
          particular reference to those occurring between approximately 1 July and 15 December. As the
          Special Representative has not been invited lately to visit Iran, his activities are carried out
          entirely outside the country. He receives a wide variety of written communications from the
          Government, from international non-governmental organizations, and from private organizations
          and individuals located in Iran and abroad. He also receives representations in person during his
          off cial visits to Geneva and to New York.
          The Special Representative sends both urgent representations as well as requests for
          information to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are sometimes submitted
          alone and sometimes jointly with special rapporteurs holding thematic mandates.
          The Special Representative's key ffindings as reflected in the current report are:
          — Human rights in Iran remains a work in progress, as indeed it probably is in most
          countries;
          — Iran is a dynamic society and in the period under review, significant progress has
          become evident in a number of areas, but not in all;
          — lii the area of freedom of expression, there has been signifficant progress, except with
          respect to the press where progress has been significant in terms of quantity, but the
          press advocating reform has come under severe pressure from a variety of tribunals.
          OEe result has been the closure of the journal in some cases, the imprisonment of the
          publisher or editor in some and the withdrawal of the licence to publish in others.
          OEere have also been some actions taken against individual journalists;
          — OEe educational and health levels of women continue to improve but they continue to
          be under-represented in the work force. Despite its commitment to improving the
          status of women, the Government has launched no signifficant initiatives to address
          the discrimination women face in the legal system;
          — OEe Government has shown little commitment to change in the area of the status of
          minorities;
          — OEe law is one of the areas in most need of significant improvement. In the human
          rights context, there now seems to be a commitment on the part of the Government
          but so far there is little to show for it;
        
          
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          — In the area of democracy, elections were held for the ffirst time at the local level. The
          important issue now is the Majlis elections in February 2000 and, in particular, the
          process for vetting the candidates;
          — In the area of disappearances and suspicious deaths, as well as that of the handling of
          the student demonstrations that took place in July 1999, the issue is the response by
          the Government which so far has been neither thoroughgoing nor prompt. OEis has
          raised scepticism as to its commitment to bring the malefactors to justice in an open
          courtroom.
          OEe Special Representative's key recommendations follow from the key ffindings
          outlined above. He recommends:
          — OEat freedom of expression, with particular regard to the press, be reinforced by
          conffining the review of the conduct of the press to the legislated press-review
          mechanism and that that mechanism be implemented with full regard to the principles
          of fair trial;
          — OEat the Government commit itself to taking initiatives to address the discrimination
          women face in the legal system;
          — OEat the Government introduce political endeavour and supporting resources to
          address the systemic barriers and social attitudes standing in the way of the
          realization of human rights by the ethnic and religious minorities;
          — OEat the Government attach high priority to pressing forward with reform of the legal
          system, including by requiring all standards of fair trial to be applied in all
          courtrooms and by removing from the bench judges who disregard these standards or
          use their courtrooms to advance their own views rather than applying legally
          mandated norms;
          — OEat the Government urgently address the slow and secretive manner, and indeed the
          conduct of the legal investigations being carried out concerning a series of murders
          and disappearances of political and intellectual dissidents, and of student leaders and
          others involved in the July student demonstrations.
        
          
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          Introduction
          1. OEe Special Representative herewith presents his ffiifih report to the Commission on
          Human Rights. OEere has been much change in the political and social fabric of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran. Some of this has translated into improvements to the human rights
          situation in the country. OEe intent of this report is to capture the main areas where this progress
          can be seen and where it has yet to be felt.
          2. OEe preparation of this report has not become less of a challenge. han is a dynamic
          society in which the pace of change has increased signifficantly over the year since the last report
          to the Commission. It is thus more awkward than ever to be obliged to report on only three
          quarters of a year; this report is being prepared in the ffirst half of December, three months before
          the Commission convenes, and probably four months before the Commission reaches the
          relevant agenda item.
          3. OEe Special Representative has again identiffied the priority areas as he sees them through
          which he attempts to assess the human rights situation in the country. As a result, the report is
          far from comprehensive; no doubt there has been change in some other areas which have not
          come to his attention. Similarly, there are undoubtedly dark spots which have not come to his
          attention.
          4. Overall, progress is certainly being made and, in the Special Representative's view, it is
          very likely to continue, perhaps even accelerate. History suggests that it is very diffcult to turn
          the clock back as a society comes to appreciate the inherent strength of a democratic, tolerant
          and inclusive community in which the dignity of the individual is truly respected.
          I. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE'S ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES
          5. OEe Special Representative introduced his fourth report to the Third Committee of the
          General Assembly (A154/365) on 2 November 1999. While in New York, he held consultations
          with representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and representatives of
          several non-governmental organizations based in North America. The Special Representative
          travelled to Geneva from 3 to 14 December 1999 to draifi the present report. OEe extensive
          programme for his stay in Geneva included a number of consultations and meetings with senior
          off cials from the Government and the Offfice of the United Nations High Commissioner for
          Human Rights (OHCHR). He also met with representatives of various non-governmental
          organizations, and he received representations from interested persons concerning alleged human
          rights violations in the Islamic Republic.
          6. lii seeking to discharge his mandate, the Special Representative has used many sources of
          information, including the Government of the Islamic Republic, other Governments, individuals,
          non-governmental organizations and the Iranian and international media. hi Geneva, the Special
          Representative had an opportunity to participate in an inter-agency informal consultation
          organized by OHCHR to discuss and exchange information among various United Nations and
          other intergovernmental agencies about the human rights and humanitarian situations in the
          Islamic Republic.
        
          
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          7. During the period under review, the Special Representative received written
          communications from the following non-governmental organizations about Iran: Amnesty
          International; Baha'i International Community; Committee for Defence of Liberty in han;
          Committee for the Defence of Prisoners in Iran; Committee to Protect Journalists;
          Constitutionalist Movement of Iran; Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; Dr. Homa Darabi
          Foundation; Human Rights Watch; International PEN American Center; International PEN
          Writers in Prison Committee; Iranian Worker Leifi Unity; Organization for Defending Victims of
          Violence; National Council of Resistance of Iran; Reporters sans Fronti&es; Society for the
          Defence of Political Prisoners in Iran; and the Spectrum Institute.
          II. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
          8. Since the election of President Khatami, the press has been growing signifficantly in terms
          of the number of licences issued and in the diversity of viewpoints. With some exceptions, a
          wide spectrum of views on most subject areas now appears to be tolerated. There is no
          prepublication censorship of newspapers. Nevertheless, the real test is the nature and degree of
          the constraints that still exist.
          9. Since the spring of 1999, the reformist press has been under growing attack. Five papers
          have been banned but three of these have reappeared under new names. Publishers and editors
          have been imprisoned and had the right to hold a licence suspended for a term of years. Typical
          charges are the publication of false news and provocative headlines, misleading the readership,
          insulting Islamic sanctities, and insulting clerics. Other recent charges have included advocating
          renewed relations with the United States, criticizing Iran's opposition to the Middle East peace
          process, and arguing that people should be allowed to clap, whistle and cheer at concerts and
          political rallies. Some of these cases engendered wide popular interest and frequently, outspoken
          support for the publication under attack. OEe banning of one paper was one of the precipitating
          events of the July student demonstrations in Tehran and Tabriz. OEe public trial in November of
          a prominent cleric-turned-politician-turned-publisher became a cause c&l bre because of his
          defence of free speech, his condemnation of the court, and his prospective candidature in the
          February Majlis elections. The press generally remains defiant. OEe ffirst issue of a new
          publication appearing only two weeks aifier the banning of its predecessor announced ... Fatth
          believes that there are no taboos in opinions and political discussions except those laid down in
          the constitution, and that no offcial is immune from criticism”.
          10. Government ministers have frequently expressed concern at these eLorts to limit free
          expression. Most recently, the President has declared that what he called the culture of
          criticism” must be expanded and strengthened. On another occasion he declared that the closure
          of certain journals and the trial of some of the persons involved was a great loss for the system
          and society”. The newly established journalists' associations have joined in the criticism of the
          current situation.
          11. One of the casualties has been the credibility of both the press tribunal and the court
          system in general. The general courts (and in particular Tehran Branch 1410), the revolutionary
          courts and the clerical courts have all asserted jurisdiction over newspapers and their publishers.
          Until recently, the control of the press had been largely leifi to the legislated press control system
        
          
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          with its own tribunal. This tribunal has now been challenged not only from without but also by
          the arbitrary actions of the recently appointed judge of the court who has brought the tribunal to
          the brink of being dysfunctional. OEe judge was reprimanded for dismissing ffive of the press
          tribunal jurors, but he was not removed; his latest challenge to the integrity of the legislated
          system has been his apparent insistence on sitting in with the jury during its deliberations.
          12. Further uncertainty was generated by draifi legislation intended to address certain
          ambiguities in the existing law, particularly the deffinition of a political oLence. In fact, the bill
          has been draified so broadly as to constitute a weapon for a more severe repression of the press.
          At this writing, the draifi legislation has been put over to the sixth Majlis to be convened aifier the
          February elections.
          13. Also of concern has been the attitude of Iran's higher authorities that even a discussion of
          the death penalty could be viewed as a challenge to the Islamic law of retribution which in turn
          could be interpreted as a denial of Islamic principles. In the view of the Special Representative,
          a denial of even a discussion of the death penalty - or any other subject - clearly constitutes an
          impediment to the freedom of expression.
          14. In October, a ffirestorm developed over a satirical play by four university students writing
          in an obscure magazine with reportedly 150 subscribers. The students had incorporated the
          Twelifih Jmam in an attack on Iranian conservatives, apparently seeking to show that they were
          not as religious as they claimed. According to press reports, the investigation was presided over
          in inquisitorial style. Three of the students were sentenced to jail terms of up to three years for
          blasphemy despite their denial of any irreligious intent. They were subsequently pardoned.
          15. In the Special Representative's view, unpopular, awkward or politically incorrect points
          of view have to be clearly distinguished from legal defamation on the one hand and erroneous
          reporting causing economic damage on the other. In Iran there are some judges with the
          apparent power to close down publications and put journalists in jail for publishing views
          different from their own.
          16. In the other areas of cultural expression, including ffilm, books, including translations
          from foreign languages, theatre and popular music, the atmosphere has improved considerably.
          OEe responsible Minister has been quoted as saying that European classical music was
          undeniably beautiful”. Finally, the Special Representative notes the establishment of the ffirst
          post-revolution association of Iranian writers, translators, poets and researchers under the title
          Iran Pen Association.
          III. THE STATUS OF WOMEN
          17. Starting modestly in 1991, the Bureau of Women's ALairs in the Offce of the President
          has developed a number of programmes with the declared objective of realizing social justice
          and the advancement of women. In 1997 the ffirst National Plan of Action for Women was
          published as part of an eLort to mainstream women's concerns in the national planning
          process”. The objective was a balanced gender perspective within the framework of Islamic
          principles”. The plan acknowledged that women were still behind in certain areas resulting from
        
          
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          the lack of proper mechanisms which are needed to promote more positive action in issues
          related to women”. OEe principle aim was declared to be to improve the qualitative and
          quantitative indices of education, culture, health, social welfare and employment for all women”.
          18. In October 1999, the ffirst report on the implementation of the Plan of Action was
          published. It provided a detailed description of the activities undertaken to achieve gender
          equality and women's advancement” through the national planning process. A signifficant
          number of off ces of women's aLairs had been established in government ministries and across
          the country. Various public information programmes had also been undertaken.
          19. OEe report notes the qualitative improvements in the health and the education and
          training sectors, and the heightening awareness of gender issues through the mass media.
          The report describes the diffculties encountered in these terms:
          The revision process of laws and legislation on women is a long-term complex
          procedure which makes modiffication of laws duff cult. The fact that Iran consists of
          different ethnic groups and subcultures impedes the adoption of single cultural measures
          to remove or correct negative perceptions and attitudes.
          20. The report analyses results in 12 areas and includes a section in each on OEbstacles faced
          and lessons learned”. OEese include the unwillingness of certain parents to have vocational or
          technical training for their daughters, the privatization policy in health and medicine which
          prevents early detection of disease, the lack of proper records concerning violence against
          women, the strong patriarchal attitude in society, and the limited access to ffinancial resources
          that impedes women from running for elected offce. In a section entitled Human rights of
          women”, the report notes as obstacles the inadequate awareness of women of their legal rights,
          the lack of strong mechanisms for promoting the human rights of women and the improper”
          enforcement of laws.
          21. According to government ffigures, some statistics concerning women are still arresting.
          For example, only some 11 per cent of the workforce are women; some 27 per cent of women
          15-49 years old are illiterate. While the number of women engaged in higher education is
          impressive, anecdotal evidence in the press describes the situation at school level in blunt terms.
          OEe shortage of schools in the rural areas and particularly in the less developed regions of the
          country disadvantages girls in particular. Forty-three per cent of families cite economic
          problems as a reason for not sending their female members to school. According to a statement
          attributed to a senior offcial of the Ministry of Education, the suicide rate among girls and
          young women, fed by depression, apathy and lethargy”, has grown alarmingly.
          22. According to published reports, some of the problems of concern to Iranian women
          themselves are patriarchal views in the workplace, the existence of a Civil Code provision
          requiring women to obtain the permission of their husbands to take jobs (even if the provision is
          widely disregarded and can in any event be circumscribed by a suitable provision in a marriage
          contract), the continuing requirement that women obtain their husband's permission to obtain a
          passport, and the prevailing inequality in the marriage and divorce laws.
        
          
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          23. In the Special Representative's view, it is clear that the obstacles to the realization of
          women's rights are both legal and cultural, and that on both fronts there is a great deal to be
          done. On the legal side, the Special Representative has repeatedly called for leadership by the
          Government in introducing the necessary legal and regulatory changes to remove some of the
          systemic causes of complaint by Iranian women. OEere are many modest measures, some
          suggested by him in the past, that could serve as commitments to change. With regard to cultural
          impediments, a problem faced by many societies, there is much to be learned, negative as well as
          positive, from the experience of others. It is clear, however, that leadership is required from the
          level of village elites to that of national elites including the highest levels of Government.
          Action is needed now.
          IV. THE STATUS OF MINORITIES
          A. General
          24. OEere appear to be several Iranian government offces or commissions which have some
          responsibilities for the aLairs of religious and ethnic minorities but they do not appear to have a
          high proffile and their role in addressing the concerns of minority groups is unclear. For
          example, one of the long outstanding requests of the religious minorities is to have the right to
          name the directors of their schools from within their own community. It is not clear that this is
          being addressed. Another is the issue of Sunni places of worship, particularly in Tehran. hi the
          Special Representative's view it is not a suffcient response to the latter to say that there are no
          legal prohibitions involved.
          B. Evangelical Protestants
          25. It is very diffcult to establish an authoritative ffigure for the number of Evangelical
          Christians in Iran, apparently because many are forced to worship in private. hi 1990, it was
          estimated that the various Protestant congregations might include 30,000 persons of whom
          perhaps 15,000 were Muslim converts. OEe condition of these Churches is described in some
          detail by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of
          religious intolerance in his 1996 report to the Commission aifier a visit to han
          (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2). According to information reaching the Special Representative, there is
          no reason to believe that conditions have improved. OEese groups continue to face harassment
          from the Iranian security authorities in terms of pressure against Muslim converts and against
          perceived eLorts to proselyte among Muslims. In this regard the Special Representative wishes
          to point out that the right of conversion is clearly recognized in the 1981 United Nations
          Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on
          Religion and Belief, and in paragraph S of General Comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993 of the
          Human Rights Committee (see HR/GEN/1/Rev.3).
          26. OEe Special Representative has noted in paragraph 59 below that in the fallout over
          the serial killings scandal, doubt is now being cast on the 1995 trial of the alleged killers of
          three Protestant ministers. The Special Representative notes that the 1996 report of the
          Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of religious intolerance
          referred to similar doubts among the Christian community at the time.
        
          
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          27. The Special Representative notes the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur set out
          in his report referred to above. For his part, the Special Representative also recommends that the
          legal status of Protestant religious associations be rehabilitated, that Protestant communities be
          allowed to engage in religious activities in full, that all bans and restrictions be liified on places of
          worship and access thereto, and that with respect to proselytism, conversion and apostasy, the
          Iranian authorities recognize international standards including freedom to charge one's religion
          and freedom to manifest one's religion or belief, individually or in community, in public or in
          private.
          C. Baha'is
          28. OEe situation of the Baha'i remains serious. Baha'is continue to be subject to prolonged
          imprisonment, confiscation of holy places, and denial of the right to assemble. OEe Baha'i
          community faces the ongoing and systematic violation of economic, social and cultural rights,
          through denied access to employment, termination of pensions on religious grounds, and lack of
          payment of unemployment beneffits.
          29. Fiifieen Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran, of whom four are subject to the death sentence
          (see annex I). In this regard, the Special Representative has received a letter dated
          2 November 1999 from the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the
          United Nations Offce at Geneva, stating that Mr. Shabihu'llah Mabrami's death sentence had
          been commuted to life imprisonment, and that the relevant judiciary oLicials had requested
          commutation of the death sentence against Mr. Mousa Talibi.
          30. lii a November 1999 press conference in Paris, President Khatami responded to a
          question about the Baha'is by saying that no one should be persecuted because of his or her
          beliefs, and that he would defend the civil rights of all Iranians regardless of their beliefs or
          religion.
          31. OEe Special Representative once again urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran to improve its treatment of the Baha'i community. Speciffically, he recommends that the
          Government cease discrimination against Baha'is in all spheres of public life and services, liifi
          the ban on Baha'i organizations so that Baha'is may associate freely, ensure that the death
          penalty is not imposed on Baha'is for their religious beliefs, institute the reconstruction of
          destroyed places of worship wherever possible or at least ensure the provision of appropriate
          compensation to the Baha'i community, liifi restrictions regarding the burial and honouring of the
          dead, and eliminate from passport application forms questions concerning religion so as to avoid
          infringement upon the ffleedom of movement.
          32. OEe Special Representative again urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran
          to implement the outstanding recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on religious
          intolerance on his visit to Iran. (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2, sect. II).
        
          
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          V. LEGAL SUBJECTS
          A. Fair trial
          33. OEe issue of fair trial is coming more and more to the fore in Iran as the Government
          seeks to establish the rule of law, and in particular as commitments are made by government
          oLicials that persons charged with oLences will receive such treatment.
          34. International standards of fair trial have been quite clearly articulated and it is obviously
          important that there be no misunderstanding as to what is involved. OEe standards concerned are
          to be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (arts. 10 and 11), the International
          Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art. 14) and various regional instruments.
          35. OEese provide for:
          (a) OEe right of equality before the law and the court;
          (b) OEe right to trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established
          by law;
          (c) OEe right to a fair hearing;
          (d) OEe right to a public hearing;
          (e) The right to be presumed innocent;
          (f) OEe right to be notiffied of the charges;
          (g) OEe right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or confess guilt;
          (h) The right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence;
          (i) OEe right to be tried without undue delay;
          (j) OEe right to defend oneself in person or through counsel of choice;
          (k) OEe right to be present at trial and to appeal;
          (1) The right to call and examine witnesses;
          (m) The right to an interpreter;
          (n) The right to be given reasons for judgement and to have them rendered in public;
          (o) The right to appeal;
          (p) The right to compensation for the miscarriage ofjustice;
        
          
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          (q) OEe right not to be tried again for an oLence for which he/she has already been
          ffinally acquitted or convicted.
          36. It is clear from the incidents reported in this and other reports on human rights in Iran,
          that one or more of these rights are oifien not available to defendants in Iranian tribunals. For
          example, reports reaching the Special Representative concerning the 13 Jews being detained in
          Shiraz on suspicion of espionage are reportedly being denied access to a lawyer of their choice,
          and given the lapse of 10 months since being detained, they have certainly not been brought to
          trial without undue delay”.
          B. Reform of the legal system
          37. Demands for reform of the legal system have been growing over the last two years. A
          new chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashami Shahroudi, was appointed in August.
          He said that he wanted clean and brave judges”. In October he was quoted in the press as
          calling for real eLorts to rehabilitate the justice system which was in ruins”. We must tighten
          our belts and with determination and an iron will return to the judiciary its lost reputation”. We
          must presume a suspect is innocent. This way the liberties envisioned in Islam will be provided
          for. The right of the suspect is top priority”.
          38. In November Ayatollah Hashami Shahroudi spoke of the necessity of lawyers and judges
          ffinding their proper status in society, adding that the status quo does not match what has been
          stipulated in Islam”. He said that proposals for reform of the legal system would be forwarded to
          the Majlis shortly. So far, there has been an invitation to lawyers and judges to comment on the
          combined court system of about ffive years' standing that had been widely criticized by the
          profession, and a proposal for the establishment of a standing arbitral tribunal. Commenting in
          September on the student demonstration of early July, Ayatollah Hashami Shahroudi appeared to
          contradict a statement of the head of the revolutionary courts of Tehran, saying that the students
          involved were not guilty and that the issue was a social and cultural rather than a legal one.
          39. The Special Representative notes the detailed commentary on reform of the legal systems
          and the reprinting of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary in
          the August and September 1999 issues of the Defenders News Letter”, the publication of a
          prominent human rights NGO in Iran. It is a frank assessment of the system as seen from within
          Iran and together with the United Nations Basic Principles, provides something of a benchmark
          against which to measure the reform package promised by the head of the judiciary. It is also
          noted that this NGO has begun translating and distributing some reports on Iran prepared by
          international human rights NGOs.
          40. OEe reform of the legal system and of the judiciary has been long outstanding and in the
          view of the Special Representative, the failure of the Government to address it seriously before
          now has been a major impediment to the introduction of a culture of human rights in the Islamic
          Republic.
          41. OEere are references in other parts of this report to the shortcomings of the legal system.
          These include such critical matters as treatment in pretrial detention, forced confessions, the
          overcrowding in the prison system, the continuing existence of detention centres outside the
        
          
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          off cia! prison system, and not least the denial of fair trial. Some problems suggest that urgent
          attention must be paid to the judiciary itself Unacceptable conduct includes: conduct such as
          denying the right of the defence to call witnesses, stating that judgement would be rendered
          following the submission of the defence's closing submission and then issuing the judgement
          without giving time for the submission, sitting in on a jury deliberation, making statements about
          cases which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the speaker's court, sending defence lawyers to
          jail for such action as protesting the judge's refusal to allow him to call witnesses. Such a list is
          not exhaustive and perhaps not representative. However, it does suggest to the Special
          Representative that very thoroughgoing reform of the judiciary is urgently required.
          42. OEere remains the long-standing problem of the Clerics Court. The Special
          Representative has on several occasions made clear his critical views on the conduct of the
          tribunal. He notes that in the opinion of many within han, this court is unconstitutional. The
          serious flaws in its procedure have been highlighted in several recent cases involving the press.
          The Special Representative reiterates his view that experience with this tribunal in Iran as well as
          that with similar tribunals in other societies has almost inevitably led to the denial of human
          rights, particularly with regard to the standards of fair trial.
          C. Lawyers
          43. OEe Bar Association is gradually ffinding its voice. In November the press carried an
          open letter to the Head of the Judiciary from the Association concerning the arrest in the
          courtroom of the lawyer representing a newspaper on trial. Later in the month the press carried
          the text of a letter from the Association to the Speaker of the Majlis protesting a provision in a
          bill before that body that would empower the judiciary to authorize lawyers to practise, a
          provision that the Association asserted was in flagrant contradiction with the existing Bar
          Independence Act, which gives such a power exclusively to the Association.
          D. OEe prison system
          44. In the past, the Special Representative has been informed that all places of detention in
          Iran were being brought within the jurisdiction of the Prisons Organization, a clearly desirable
          goal given the apparent number of places of detention operated by various government and
          quasi-government agencies. Whether this has yet been achieved is not clear. The international
          media carried an interview with one recently released editor of a weekly journal who stated that
          in June 1999 he had been arrested and detained for a time in the Ministry of Information
          (Security) detention centre within Evin prison. Following the student demonstrations he was
          detained again for three months in the same ministry's detention centre, known as Towhid
          prison, amidst appalling conditions, conditions that clearly violate the United Nations Standard
          Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In the Special Representative's view, the
          announced policy of transferring all places of detention to the authority of the Prisons
          Organization needs to be fully implemented and the standards in all facilities brought up to
          international levels.
          45. A second major issue has been the overcrowding of Iranian prisons. In October, the
          Iranian press quoted the Director-General of the Prisons Organization as stating that almost
          two thirds of the prison population were there for drug oLences, a category which has been
        
          
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          rapidly growing. In November, the press quoted a senior off cial of the Interior Ministry as
          declaring that Iran had 243 persons in prison for every 100,000 population against an
          international average of 10-15 persons per 100,000. This is a staggering ffigure even if the drug
          oLence prisoners are removed from the equation. OEe prisons of Iran are very overcrowded as
          the Director-General himself has declared. Iran clearly faces a signifficant problem if the
          Government hopes to rehabilitate the majority of the prisoners. Overcrowding needs to be
          addressed urgently.
          E. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
          46. OEe Iranian press carried a report in July that over a two-week period, some 21 men had
          been sentenced to amputation of ffingers in Tabriz and elsewhere.
          47. OEe Iranian press carried a report in October of two prisoners being sentenced to death, in
          one case to be preceded by 100 lashes and in the other by blinding.
          48. OEe Iranian press reported in October that a married woman had been sentenced to
          stoning for adultery.
          49. OEe Iranian press carried a report in November that two repeat armed robbers had been
          sentenced each to the amputation of their right hand and leifi foot.
          50. OEe Special Representative has been calling for an end to such punishment for some
          time. He notes with concern reports that they have been re-promulgated in the Procedures in the
          General and Revolutionary Courts published in Off cial Gazette 1591 of 10 October 1999.
          51. OEe possibility of torture also comes to light from time to time in the context of
          suspicious deaths. One such case reported in detail in the press in July 1999 was that of
          Mohammad Reya Karami in Isfahan. The circumstances, including the victim's arrest,
          subsequent transfer to hospital, testimony of the father aifier visiting the victim in hospital where
          he subsequently died, as well as the coroner's report, are highly suggestive of a case of torture.
          The Special Representative believes cases such as these suggest that torture in all its forms is still
          not an unusual event in han.
          VI. DEMOCRACY/CIVIL SOCIETY
          52. OEe next signifficant date in Iran's evolving democracy is widely considered to be the
          general elections of the Majlis set for 18 February 2000. It is clear that many events in han's
          political life today are being influenced by this prospect. Various political groupings are
          jockeying for advantage, most particularly with regard to the candidates' qualiffication process.
          In past elections, there have usually been complaints over the way the Council of Guardians
          carried out its responsibilities in this regard which was widely seen as arbitrary and idiosyncratic
          as well as being prejudicial to the prospects of reformist candidates. ELorts to establish clear
          legislative rules for this process were unsuccessful. The resulting August 1999 legislation has
          been criticized for, in the words of one press account, vesting in the Council, vast powers to
        
          
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          micro-manage the election, including a number of provisions which clearly penalize the
          reformist cause”. There were calls for the election to be postponed as well as calls that the
          implementation of the new law be postponed until aifier the February election.
          53. Meanwhile, there have been increasing calls, particularly from the reformist camp, for a
          massive turnout of voters. OEe President declared that a large turnout would express the
          determination of the people for development and progress”.
          54. Some political groupings are now arguing that the Majlis at present is quasi-democratic”
          and that it is necessary to institutionalize a multiparty system. Until 1997, few licences for
          political groups were issued. It was announced in September 1999 that their number had now
          more than doubled to 100. A long-standing applicant for a licence, the Iran Freedom
          Movement”, reportedly has still not been issued a licence although it is in practice tolerated and
          is an important element on the political scene. OEe leader of the party has nevertheless stated
          that it would run candidates in the forthcoming election and argued that in accordance with the
          Constitution, all political parties should be allowed to run candidates.
          55. The Minister of the Interior continues to express concern that the election should not take
          place in an atmosphere of violence and violation of law. We must draw a clear line between the
          legal defence of our religion and irrational violent moves because support for violence is
          tantamount to overlooking [ thel principle and philosophy behind the presence of the Islamic
          Revolution”.
          56. OEe President has continued to promote his concept of a civil society. In speaking to a
          board meeting of the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution in late November,
          the President declared that Ayatollah Khomeni believed that OEolding any ideas, even if those
          ideas may be against Islam, is free if someone does not embark on any attempt to topple the
          Government”. OEe Ayatollah had been steadfast in his idea of granting freedom to the
          minorities and various groups and people with diLerent thoughts . That this view is not
          always respected is reflected in a press account of comments by the head of han State Radio and
          Television one month earlier in which he is quoted as declaring, there is no religious pluralism
          in Islam A Muslim must be able to identify the enemy OEe heart of a devout Muslim
          must be ffilled with hatred against the enemies of Islam”.
          57. More positively, a group of Majlis deputies has announced the introduction of a bill for
          the amnesty of Iranians living abroad providing they do not have criminal records.
          VII. DISAPPEARANCES AND SUSPICIOUS DEATHS
          58. lii his 1999 reports to the Commission and to the General Assembly, the Special
          Representative described the string of disappearances and suspicious deaths in the second half
          of 1998 of intellectuals and dissident political ffigures. Popular reaction was strong and
          immediate and became more so as it became clear that the killings were part of what became
          known as serial killings committed by offcials in or close to the Ministry of Information
          (Security). Offcially, those acts were attributed to rogue elements” within the Ministry. Full
          investigation was promised with indictment and public trials to follow. In June, it was reported
          that one of the alleged ringleaders, Said Imami, had committed suicide in detention, news that
        
          
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          was greeted with much scepticism. By October, it was acknowledged that 27 persons had been
          detained in this matter. OEe name of another alleged ringleader, Mostafa Kazemi (Mousavi),
          began to circulate.
          59. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction heightened with the slow progress of the investigation. OEere
          were demands that the investigation be broadened to include many other suspicious deaths going
          back to 1994. Information was ffiltering out attributing responsibility to present or former senior
          ffigures in the security establishment. Although denied by the military prosecutor's offfice, a
          much wider scenario began to be discussed publicly, one that involved 50 or more unexplained
          deaths in recent years. Included were the 1994 deaths of three Christian ministers which had
          been oLicially attributed to the Mujahedin, the deaths of Sunni community leaders, and the
          deaths of dissidents in bombings in Europe.
          60. In December, the Speaker of the Majlis told the press that diLerences within the
          Government on the handling of the matter had been discussed between the heads of the three
          branches of Government in the presence of the Supreme Leader. A member of the Majlis
          committee trying to investigate the matter told the press that there was no responsible authority
          prepared to respond to the Committee's inquiries. At a December memorial service on the
          anniversary of the deaths of two of the intellectuals, the Secretary-General of the Society of
          Authors was reported to have declared that, Basic measures have not yet been taken to identify
          and produce the murderers”. The President himself has stated that he is not satisffied with the
          progress of the investigation.
          61. OEe scandal has now raised such broad implications for the Government as well as such
          public scepticism that only the most thoroughgoing public inquiry and purgative action is likely
          to restore the Government's credibility in terms not only of law and order but of its respect for
          the most fundamental human rights.
          VIII. OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS
          A. Student demonstrations
          62. OEe student demonstrations in Tehran and Tabriz in early July were widely regarded as
          the most serious challenge the Government has faced since the Islamic Revolution. OEe
          Supreme Leader, the President and several of his ministers quickly denounced the raid upon the
          University of Tebran dormitories, one of a chain of escalating events that led to the students'
          demonstrations. Over a 1,000 students were said to have been arrested with apparently the
          majority of them being subsequently released.
          63. OEe head of the Tehran Revolutionary Court had declared at one point that four of the
          students had been condemned to death. He gave no names and there was no evidence to suggest
          they had received a fair trial. Government spokesmen subsequently denied that they had been
          tried and sentenced. With regard to the students convicted in the Tabriz demonstrations, the
          press recently reported that 114 nationalist and religious ffigures had petitioned the head of the
          judiciary to order a retrial before a competent court in the presence of the students' lawyers and a
          jury.
        
          
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          64. In October, the President declared that the events at the University of Tehran had been a
          disgrace”. The incident was shameful and we didn't think that one day the Islamic Republic
          would be forced to witness such an event”. In December, Tehran radio reported that Tebran's
          former police chief and 19 other off cers and men would be court-martialled for their part in the
          attack on the student dormitories. More generally, the conduct of the law enforcement agencies
          in the course of the student demonstrations in Tehran and Tabriz has precipitated calls in the
          press for the overhaul of the police system, the need for which seems to have been accepted, at
          least implicitly, by the national commander of these forces.
          65. In the Special Representative's view, there are clearly two government agencies involved
          in the denial of human rights in the case of these demonstrations, the law enforcement agencies
          and the judiciary. While some disciplinary action has been undertaken with regard to the law
          enforcement agencies, there has as yet been no sign of action against the apparently disciplined
          and uniformed group of some 400 men bussed to the site who reportedly systematically
          ransacked the dormitories, assaulted students, and took a number of them prisoner. Nor has
          there been any recognition of wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement agencies aifier the
          students had been detained nor any accounting of the students still held and the charges, if any,
          against them. Further, there has yet to be a recognition of the judiciary's improper conduct in
          any trials that may have occurred and the prolonged pre-trial detention without access to lawyers.
          B. Treatment of Shia dissidents
          66. In earlier reports, the Special Representative has referred to the treatment accorded to
          dissident Shia clerics, a treatment that was oifien harsh and in total disregard of their human
          rights. Recently, there have been fewer such reports and indeed in one leading case, there seems
          to be some loosening up. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, once the designated successor to
          Ayatollah Khomeni as supreme leader, was placed under house arrest in 1989 and his family and
          followers harassed. In 1997, outspoken criticism by Ayatollah Montazeri of the existing order of
          governance reached the public aifier which he was refused all visits and in March 1999, the mere
          mention of his name by the media was declared by the Clerics Court to be an offence.
          67. Recently, Ayatollah Montazeri was granted permission to receive small groups of
          selected visitors, which he reportedly refused, declaring that he would not allow anyone to
          dictate who could visit him. Abdollah Noun, in his recent celebrated trial, invoked
          Ayatollah Montazeri's name only to be told by the presiding judge that he would not allow the
          name to be mentioned. In an earlier trial in the Clerics Court of the prayer leader of a Tehran
          mosque charged with propagating for Montazeri, spreading lies and confusing public opinion”,
          the defendant was jailed for a year. He was reportedly among 180 clerics and seminary students
          who had signed a petition protesting the conditions under which Ayatollah Montazeri was being
          held.
          68. In the Special Representative's view, the recent renewal of public discussion about the
          Montazeri case and, hopefully, the early restitution of his civil rights represent an important step
          in the growth of the Government's ability to tolerate dissenting political views on the most
          sensitive subjects.
        
          
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          C. The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC )
          69. OEe Special Representative has followed the evolution of this commission for some
          years. Obviously it should be a cornerstone in the establishment of a culture of human rights.
          OEe commission is clearly making progress and now seems to be addressing such diLicult issues
          as the need for society to be able to debate the death penalty and, more generally, other public
          issues which, for some at least, touch on Islamic verities.
          70. Moreover, in Iran, as seen from some of the recent cases involving the press, the right to
          criticize offficials is often denied and is at best fragile. A major part of the work of any national
          human rights commission involves the criticism of offcials. In the Special Representative's
          view, the highest levels of Government should be setting an example in this regard, particularly
          in manifesting their respect for and, as appropriate, deference to IHRC.
          71. OEe Special Representative has taken note of the adoption on 8 August 1999 of a number
          of signifficant amendments to the Charter of IHRC which, among other things, provided for
          increased representation on the governing council of persons from the non-governmental sector.
          D. Drugs: a national and international problem
          72. As the Special Representative has reported in the past, han has gradually been
          acknowledging that in addition to a drug-smuggling and violence problem, it has a major
          domestic drug problem.
          73. Most of the drugs enter the country on the eastern frontiers with Afghanistan and
          Pakistan, a long boundary through a harsh, thinly populated landscape that is duff cult to police.
          According to the Government's latest ffigures, some 13,000 tons of contraband drugs have been
          seized since 1979, more than half of that in the last ffive years. This reportedly would mean that
          ban now accounts for 85 per cent of the opium seizures and 30 per cent of the heroin and
          morphine seizures in the world. Some 2,700 banian law enforcement off cials have died
          since 1979 in attempting to control the drug trade, 36 in one recent armed clash on 3 November
          near the Pakistan border. The smugglers are reportedly today typically armed with shoulder-
          ffired anti-tank rockets, Kalashnikov assault rifles and, on occasion, even Stinger anti-aircraifi
          missiles. Foreign tourists are now subject to kidnapping, apparently by those associated with the
          smuggling of drugs.
          74. OEe head of the United Nations Offce for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has
          recently called for greater recognition of and technical support for ban's efforts to combat drug
          traffcking. OEe Special Representative recommends that this appeal be given serious
          consideration.
          75. According to United Nations drug offficials, there has been a growing demand for opium
          and heroin within Iran, particularly among those under 30. Some estimates place the number of
          users at 1.3 million. Such a situation carries a high social cost and by extension a human rights
          cost. This includes the overcrowding of j ails mentioned elsewhere in this report, the devastating
          impact on certain tribal groups, particularly the Baluch who have been lured into the lucrative
        
          
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          drug trade, the spread of AIDS with reportedly 67 per cent of Iranian victims being afficted
          through intravenous drug injection, the heavy burden faced by the families of addicts, and not
          least the diversion of so much youthful energy away from creative pursuits.
          IX. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF
          THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
          76. During the reporting period, the Special Representative received a letter
          dated 2 November 1999 from the Permanent Mission, in response to his letter
          of 3 February 1997, in which it provided the following information:
          On the eve of the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), the
          Leader of the Islamic Republic of han has commuted the death sentence against
          Mr. Zabihollah Mahramy to life imprisonment.”
          The relevant judiciary offficials have requested for commutation of the death sentence
          against Mr. Mousa Talibi. However, the process of the commutation request is still going
          on.”
          77. OEe outstanding correspondence between the Special Representative and the Permanent
          Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Offce at Geneva is
          described in annex II. While acknowledging the letter of response by the Government during the
          reporting period, the Special Representative encourages it to make further eLort to respond to his
          outstanding requests for information concerning individual cases.
          X. CONCLUSIONS
          78. Before turning to his conclusions, the Special Representative would note the following:
          — Iran's thirteenth, fourteenth and ffiifieenth periodic reports under the International
          Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
          (CERD/C/338/Add.8) were considered at the August 1999 session of the Committee
          on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. OEe Committee noted that the Iranian
          report was much improved. OEe concluding observations of the Committee are
          published as CERD/C/55/Misc.32/Rev.4 of 18 August 1999 and the summary records
          of the relevant meetings as CERD/C/SR. 1338 and 1339;
          — Iran's initial report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child
          (CRC/C/41/Add.5) is scheduled for consideration at the May/June 2000 session of the
          Committee on the Rights of the Child;
          — OEe Government of Iran invited and recently received a mission of the International
          Labour Organization (ILO). This was a high-level technical advisory mission to
          discuss all the outstanding points raised by ILO supervisory bodies concerning the
          application of ILO Convention No. 111;
        
          
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          — OEe Government of Iran invited and recently received a technical assistance needs
          assessment mission from the Offce of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
          — As for the Special Representative, he was not invited to visit Iran in the period under
          review.
          79. Turning to his conclusions, the Special Representative views Iran as a society in
          signifficant political turmoil. He believes the prospect is for substantial and far-reaching change
          which will inevitably have, and indeed in some areas has already had, a positive impact on the
          human rights situation. In the meantime, by international standards serious human rights
          violations continue to occur, particularly in the domain under the influence of the judiciary and
          of the law enforcement agencies.
          80. OEe progress made to date is to some degree fragile. OEe pace of reform is uneven and in
          some areas there seems scant recognition of its pressing need. More particularly:
          (a) In the area of freedom of expression, signifficant progress has been made in all the
          sectors that have come to the Special Representative's attention with the notable exception of the
          press. Here a high-proffile struggle continues as to the scope of tolerated expression. At the
          moment, the reformist-minded newspapers are susceptible to arbitrary discipline by various
          tribunals for acts which do not appear to be contrary to any established legal norm. The process
          usually fails to meet the internationally accepted norms of fair trial. The need for a free
          discourse is an integral component of the civil society that the President seeks to build. The
          Special Representative believes that the paradigm for free speech must be tied to an objectively
          deffinable series of norms acceptable to the society as a whole. OEe Special Representative
          recommends that conscientious eLorts be made by all branches of Government to achieve this
          goal;
          (b) The Special Representative believes that signifficant progress is being made with
          regard to the status of women in selected but important sectors such as education and training,
          health and integration of a gender dimension into government planning. However, little progress
          is being made with regard to remaining systemic barriers to equality, and perhaps also, although
          it is less readily quantiffiable, to the removal of patriarchal attitudes in society. The Special
          Representative recommends - again - that the Government take the lead in both these two areas;
          (c) In the Special Representative's view, one of the backwaters of the human rights
          situation in Iran is the status of minorities, ethnic and religious. There are reports of studies
          being made of particular situations, but in general, the Special Representative is forced to
          conclude that suffcient political will is lacking to push this area onto the Government's priority
          list. The Special Representative recommends that the Government publicly acknowledge the
          need for change and that it commit itself to addressing the human rights problems that abound in
          this area;
          (d) One of the areas in greatest need of thoroughgoing reform is that of the legal
          system. Clearly, it is on the Government's agenda but it seems to the Special Representative that
          many of the well-publicized reform proposals are regarded as simply too complex and too
        
          
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          politically diffcult to implement with the urgency that they require. The Special Representative
          recommends that the announced reform of the legal system be given a high priority both in terms
          of political endeavour and of the allocation of resources;
          (e) In many of the other areas mentioned in the body of the report, disappearance and
          suspicious deaths, and student demonstrations, to name only two, the Government is clearly
          aware of the human rights dimensions of the current problems but the machinery to address them
          seems to be inadequate with the result that the problems are festering and public frustration
          growing. The Special Representative urges the Government to cut through the apparent
          bureaucratic thicket and address the problems resolutely and urgently.
          81. Finally, the Special Representative would observe that while the change to date has been
          important, human rights in Iran remains very much a work in progress. Signifficant problems
          remain some of which the Government clearly acknowledges and others which the Government
          appears to be reluctant to admit. Greater eLorts are required.
        
          
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          Annex I
          INFORMATION ON THE SITUATION OF THE BAHA'IS
          OEe following is based on information received by the Special Representative.
          1. OEe Baha'is arrested in Isfahan for their involvement with the Baha'i Institute of Higher
          Education (BIHE) and who received verdicts on 16 March 1999 all remain in prison.
          Dr. Sina Hakiman is serving affixed prison term of 10 years. Mr. Farad Khajeh and
          Habibullah Ferdosian are serving seven years and Mr. Ziaullah Mizapanah is serving three years.
          2. Mr. Manuchehr Khulusi, a resident of Khurasan, was reportedly arrested on 9 June 1999
          and transferred to Mashhad where he is being held in a Ministry of Information prison. While
          reports suggest that he was arrested because of his Baha'i activities, no indications have been
          given as to the charges brought against him or when his trial may be expected.
          3. Mr. Arman Damishqui and Mr. Kurush Dhabihi were granted amnesty and released
          on 19 March 1999. OEey were reportedly arrested in early 1996 for having refused to renounce
          their faith.
          4. OEe Special Representative received information concerning the hearing
          on 27 December 1998 of the Preliminary Investigations Board for Administrative Violations of
          the Head Offfice of the Board of Education and Training (Judgement No. 2687), in which
          Mr. Mithaqullah Ma'ani Intisari was found to have violated the law and therefore to have
          merited the punishment of permanent termination of governmental services. His oLence was his
          membership in OEne of the misled sects which have been rejected by Islam”.
          5. Baha'is remaining in Iranian prisons include Mr. Bihnam Mithaqui and
          Mr. Kayvan Khalajabadi, arrested on 29 April 1989 for Zionist Baha'i activities”;
          Mr. Musa Talibi, arrested on 7 June 1994, charged with apostasy and sentenced to death but now
          being processed for commutation of sentence; Mr. Dhabihu'llah Maharami, arrested on
          6 September 1995, charged with apostasy and sentenced to life, following commutation from a
          death sentence by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic; Mr. Mansur Haddadan, arrested
          on 29 February 1996, charged with holding a children's art exposition and sentenced to three
          years in prison; Mr. Sims Dhabihi-Muquaddam, Mr. Hidayat Kashifi Najafabadih and
          Mr. Ata'u'llah Hamid Nasirizadih, arrested in October/November 1997, charged with continuing
          Family Life” meetings and sentenced to death; Mrs. Sonia Ahmadi and Mr. Manuchechr Ziyai,
          arrested on 1 May 1998, charged with holding meetings for youth and sentenced to three years'
          imprisonment.
          6. Reports further indicate that limitations have been placed on visits to several of these
          prisoners held in Tehran, including the requirement that wives present proof of marriage to visit
          their husbands which is complicated by the non-recognition of Baha'i marriages by the Iranian
          authorities.
        
          
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          Annex II
          CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE AND THE
          GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
          1. By letter dated 21 June 1999, the Special Representative drew the urgent attention of the
          Iranian authorities to the reported arrest in the Islamic Republic of 13 persons, all said to be
          Iranian Jews, suspected of spying for Israel. While referring to international norms and
          standards with regard to fair trial, the Special Representative noted with concern the lengthy
          period the investigation of this matter had apparently taken and the assertion he had received that
          during this period the accused persons had been denied, among other things, family visits.
          Referring to the Government's statement No. 179 of 14 June 1999 on this matter, the Special
          Representative requested assurances that in receiving the fair trial to which the Government had
          committed itself, the accused would be accorded their rights in accordance with international
          human rights norms, including the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under
          Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 43/173
          of 9 December 1988. No response has been received.
          2. OEe Special Representative joined the Special Rapporteurs on the question of torture, and
          on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, in sending an
          urgent letter on 12 July 1999 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning the arrest and
          detention of Hechmatollah Tabarzadi and Hossein Kachani, both journalists of the weekly
          publication the Hovizat-U-Khich , which had since reportedly been banned.
          3. According to the information received, the authorities have indicated that the two
          journalists were arrested for publishing information contrary to public order and public interest”
          and issuing an anti-establishment communiqu&”. On 6 July 1999, a number of students and
          other persons reportedly protesting the detention of the above-mentioned individuals at the
          United Nations offce in Tehran were themselves arrested. It was said that all of these
          individuals had been denied access to a lawyer. In view of the incommunicado nature of their
          detention, fears have been expressed that the above-mentioned individuals may be at risk of
          torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
          4. lii the above-mentioned letter, reference was also made to the suspension by the
          Government of the Salam newspaper on the same day that the Majlis passed a new law which in
          principle restricts freedom of the press. The Salam night editor, Morad Raisi (Veissi), was
          reportedly detained on 7 July 1999. lii the letter, a joint appeal was made to the Government to
          ensure everyone's right to freedom of opinion and expression, and that the right to physical and
          mental integrity of the above-named persons is protected in accordance with international human
          rights law. No response has been received from the Government.
          5. On 13 July 1999, the Special Representative, in conjunction with the Special Rapporteur
          on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, addressed a
          letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning the alleged attacks by armed forces and
          members of the vigilante group, Ansar-i Hezbollah, against student demonstrators denouncing
          the closure of the daily newspaper, Salam . hi this regard, concern was expressed about the
          reported deaths of four students, Na'imi, Sohrabian, Yavari and Zakeri, and the detention of
        
          
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          student activists Mohamad Masud Salamati, Sayed Javad Emami and Parviz Safaria. OEe
          Government was requested to guarantee the safety and security of the students and to ensure that
          their right to freedom of opinion and expression is protected as set forth in article 19 of the
          Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political
          Rights.
          6. In a letter addressed on 30 July 1999 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Special
          Representative referred to reportedly off cial ffigures, according to which a total of 1,200 persons
          had been arrested since the beginning of the student demonstrations, 750 of whom were said to
          have been released. On the same occasion, the Special Representative forwarded the names of a
          signifficant number of missing persons that had been brought to his attention. The Special
          Representative was particularly concerned that so many persons, some of whom reportedly had
          nothing to do with the latter days of demonstrations, might remain in detention without recourse
          to family or lawyers.
          7. OEe above-mentioned letter also referred to communications by the Special
          Representative dated 18 September 1998 and 22 January 1999 regarding the insuffcient medical
          attention provided to Mr. Amir-Entezam (see para. 1 above). Expressing deep concern about the
          continued detention of Mr. Amir-Entezam and his wife, Mrs. Elahe Mizani Amir-Entezam, both
          without apparent cause, the Special Representative observed that no response had been received
          from the Government to his above-mentioned communications on this case.
        
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Free Speech, Gender Rights