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Interim report of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights in Iran

UN Doc. A/HRC/16/75

          
          Ik/HRCI16/75
          Advance Unedited Version Distr: General
          14 March2011
          Original: English
          Human Rights Council
          Sixteenth session
          Agenda item 2
          Human rights situations that require the Council's attention
          Interim report of the Secretary-General on the situation of
          human rights in Iran*
          Summary
          The present report is submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution
          65/226, in which the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit an
          interim report to the Human Rights Council at its sixteenth session. The report reflects the
          patterns and trends in the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran and
          provides information on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution,
          including recommendations to improve its implementation. In its resolution 65/226, the
          General Assembly called upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to address
          the substantive concerns highlighted in the previous report of the Secretary-General
          (A/65/370) and the specific calls to action found in previous resolutions of the Assembly
          (resolutions 63/19 1, 62/168 and 64/176), and to respect fully its human rights obligations,
          in law and in practice, in relation to a number of specifically identified concerns.
          * Late submission.
          GE.10- Pla te recyc1e
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          Contents
          Paragraphs Page
          I. Introduction. 1—4
          II. Thematic issues 5—41
          A. Torture and cmel, inhuman or degradiug treatmeut or punishment,
          including flogging and amputatious 5—9
          B. Death penalty including public executions 10—17
          C. Executions ofjuvenile offeuders 18—20
          D. Stoning as a method of executiou 2 1—23
          E. Womeu's rights 24
          F. Rights of miuorities 25—28
          G. Freedom of peaceful assembly aud associatiou and freedom of opiniou
          aud expressiou 29—3 9
          H. Lack of due process rights 40—4 1
          III. Cooperation with intemational human rights mechanisms and the Office of
          the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 42—5 4
          A. Universal Periodic Review 42
          B. Cooperation with the United Nations Human Rights Treaty System 43—44
          C. Cooperation with the United Nations Special Procedures 45—48
          D. Cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
          for Human Rights 49—54
          IV. Conclusions and recommendations 55-60
          2
        
          
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          I. Introduction
          1. The Present report on the sitnation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran is
          submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 65/226, in which the General Assembly
          requested the Secretary-General to submit an interim report to the Human Rights Council at
          its sixteenth session. The report reflects the patterns and trends in the human rights situation
          in the Islamic Republic of Iran and provides information on the progress made in the
          implementation of the pmsent resolution, including recommendations to improve its
          implementation. The report also draws upon observations made by treaty monitoring
          bodies and the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council'.
          2. Since the last report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly dated 15
          September 2010, the human rights situation in Iran has been marked by an intensified
          crackdown on human rights defenders, women's rights activists, journalists and
          government opponents. Concerns about torture, arbitrary detentions and unfair trials
          continue to be raised by UN human rights mechanisms. There was a noticeable increase in
          application of the death penalty, including in cases of political prisoners, since the
          beginning of the year 2011. Discrimination persisted against minority groups, in some cases
          amounting to persecution. Against this backdrop, there were however some positive
          developments including Iran's signing of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the
          Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict in September 2010, its
          examination before the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in August
          2010, and the conduct of a judicial colloquium together with OHCHR in December 2010.
          3. The following sections of the report highlight relevant developments in the thematic
          areas outlined in paragraph 4 of the msolution: torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading
          treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations; death penalty including
          public executions; executions of juvenile offenders; stoning as method of execution;
          women's rights; rights of minorities; fmedom of religion, freedom of peaceful assembly
          and association, freedom of opinion and expression and due process rights. The report also
          surveys recent developments in Iran's engagement with the international human rights
          system pursuant to paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the resolution. It concludes with some
          reconm endations on issues of concern and measures to improve the implementation of the
          resolution.
          4. The Secretary-General met with Mr. Mohammad Javad Ardeshir Larijani, Senior
          Adviser to the Head of the Judiciary and Secretary-General of the High Council for Human
          Rights, Iran, on 19 November 2010 in New York. The Secretary-General raised several
          human rights issues, such as constraints on human rights advocates, capital punishment,
          juvenile execution and concerns related to minority rights. Mr. Larijani conveyed that Iran
          appreciated the general cooperation with the United Nations on Human Rights both with
          the Secretary-General and the High-Commissioner for Human Rights. Mr. Larijani,
          however, insisted that Iran strongly rejected the recent General Assembly resolution on
          human rights in Iran.
          During the period since the Secretary-General's last report to the General Assembly, a number of TJN
          Special Procedures mandate-holders have reported on their communications with the Government on
          cases of concern. These are flagged in relevant sections of the report and detailed in Annex One.
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          II. Thematic issues
          A. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
          including flogging and amputations
          5. Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is
          a State Party, prohibits the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
          punishment. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran forbids the use of all forms of
          torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information and articles of the
          Penal Code and code on citizen's rights provide for acts of torture to be punished. However
          reports continue to be received about torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
          taking place in various detention facilities.
          6. The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
          or punishment sent a number of individual communications to the Iranian authorities
          concerning allegations of torture. (The Special Rapporteur reported to the Human Rights
          Council in February 2010 on several past communications which are detailed in Annex
          One.) The Special Rapporteur was joined in some communications by other Special
          Procedures including the Working Group on arbitrary detention and the Special Rapporteur
          on the independence of judges and lawyers.
          7. In recent months there have been a number of reports in the Iranian media regarding
          the application of amputation and flogging. On 1 December 2010, Iranian authorities
          amputated the hand of man accused of theft in the central prison of Kermanshah. The
          sentence was reportedly carried out in the presence of local judiciary officials and
          prisoners. 2 On 22 November 2010, after amputating the hand of a thief, the Public
          Prosecutor of Mashhad stmssed that the judiciary will show no mercy to those who disturb
          public order and security, particularly thieves. 3 On 26 October 2010, in connection with the
          amputation of the limb of a thief in Yazd, the First Deputy to the Head of Judiciary stated
          that the execution of such punishment was in compliance with the law, was a source of
          pride and would be repeated in the future. 4 On 22 July 2010, following the amputation of
          the hands of five robbers in Hamedan prison, the Prosecutor of Hamedan stressed that
          “when a hand gets used to stealing and causes harassment for the people, it has to be cut
          short” .
          8. An Iranian news agency reported that on 18 December 2010, a man accused of
          drinking alcohol was publicly punished with 80 lashes in the city of Ramshir. 6 On 5
          January 2011, the judiciary in Tehran convicted a woman Ms Saeeda known as Kimya to
          100 lashes for adultery 7 . On 31 January 2011, three persons accused of having illicit
          sexual relations were subjected to 99 lashes in public in Qaimshehr. 8 Some punishments
          have been reported in the context of retribution or “an eye- for- an eye” cases. On 28
          December 2010, according to Iranian press mports, a court in Tehran ruled that a man
          2 http://isna.ir/ISNA/NewsView.aspx?IDNews- 1665994&LangP
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          http://www.jomhourieslami.comll 389/1 3890907/ 1 3890907_O6jomhori_islami_goonagoon_0006.ht
          ml
          http://www.aftabnews.ir/vdceoz8zojh8zpi.b9bj html
          http://www.ilna.ir/newstext.aspx?1D 137025
          6 http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1679374&langP
          http://www.isna.ir/Isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1 688304&langp and
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          8 http://www.isna.ir/ISNA/Newsview.aspx?idnews- 1 706375&langP
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          AJHRC/16175
          named Haniid must lose his eye and part of an ear after he blinded and burnt the ear of
          another man in an acid attack. 9 During the preparation of this report, the Iranian authorities
          confirmed amputation and flogging sentences were carried out in Ramshir and other
          locations in conformity with the Penal Code.
          9. The Penal Code of Iran allows amputation and flogging for a range of crimes
          including theft, Mohareb (enmity against God) and certain sexual acts. The Iranian
          authorities argue that punishments of this kind are proscribed by Islamic law and are not
          considered to be torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. They argue that the
          application of sentences of this kind are effective in deterring crime and offer an alternative
          to incarceration. The Committee against Torture and the Special Rapporteur on torture and
          other crnel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment have consistently held that
          imposition of corporal punishments by judicial and administrative authorities including in
          particular, flogging and amputation of limbs, is contrary to the prohibition of torture and
          other crnel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Human Rights Committee,
          which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
          (ICCPR), held a similar view in its General Comment No. 20 (1992).
          B. Death penalty including public executions
          10. A dramatic surge in the number of executions has been recorded since the beginning
          of 2011. According to Iranian press reports, at least 66 people were executed in the month
          of January, with some sources indicating the figure to be as high as 83 executions'°. The
          majority of executions were reportedly carried out in relation to drug offences, but at least
          three political prisoners were among those hanged. The Iranian authorities assert that the
          executions were carried out after conducting a fair trial and review by a higher court. On 2
          February 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights publicly
          expressed alann at the dramatic increase in executions since the beginning of 2011 and
          called upon Iran to institute a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death
          penalty. The High Commissioner also expressed concern that a large number of people
          reportedly remain on death row, including political prisoners, drng offenders and even
          juvenile offenders and encouraged Iran to respect international standards guaranteeing due
          process and the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, to progressively
          restrict its use and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed.
          Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
          jointly with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers also warned
          in a public statement of a dramatic surge in death sentences which were carried out in the
          absence of internationally recognized safeguards, despite numerous calls by the UN to
          immediately halt executions. The experts noted that under international law, the death
          penalty is regarded as an extreme form of punishment which, if it is used at all, should oniy
          be imposed for the most serious crimes, after a fair trial has been granted to the accused.
          The Human Rights Committee has indicated that the most serious crimes are those directly
          resulting in death.” Furthermore, the Committee has consistently held that imposition of
          the death penalty could amount to atbitrary deprivation of life in breach of the Covenant,
          uniess certain stringent criteria are met. These include that it can oniy be imposed for the
          most serious crimes, it shall not be mandatory, and it may only be imposed after a trial and
          http://www.kayhannews.ir/891008/l 5.htm#otherl 508
          10 According to Anmesty Intemational, at least 71 persons mostly linked to drug trafficking were
          executed between 1 and 24 January 2011
          “ Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Iran, para. 8
          U.N. doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.25 (July 29, 1993)
          S
        
          
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          appeal proceedings that scrupulously respect all the principles of due process. The
          Committee encourages abolition of capital punishment.
          11. The Special Procedures mandate holders continued to receive many reports from
          various sources concerning individuals who had allegedly been executed for drug- related
          offences and drug trafficking. Several cases have involved foreign citizens or persons with
          dual nationality' 2 . Despite a growing acknowledgment by some Iranian authorities, that the
          death penalty may not be an effective deterrent to drug crime, the judiciary has continued to
          stress in public the need for tough punishments.
          12. A new Anti-Narcotics law was passed in December 2010 and came into force on 4
          January 2011. Article 18 provides for the death penalty for drug traffickers and major
          traders and also foresees punishment ranging from one to fifteen years travel ban for
          carrying or smuggling any quantity of drugs.' 3 The new law classes drug addicted persons
          as criminals unless they are in possession of a certificate of treatment. On 27 December
          2010, the Deputy Prosecutor General for Legal Affairs warned of a stricter approach in
          dealing with drug trafficking and stressed that drug traffickers and major drug traders will
          face execution under the new anti-narcotics law.' 4 The judiciary has also pledged to use the
          death penalty in an intensified crackdown on other serious crimes. On 8 December 2010,
          the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Sadiq Larijani announced that armed robbers
          would still be executed by hanging even if they steal nothing.' 5 Police Commander Sardar
          Doctor Ismael Ahmadi stressed that such measures would undoubtedly be most effective in
          combating crimes.' 6
          13. In July 2010, a large number of prisoners were reportedly executed at one time in
          Mashhad prison. When OHCHR staff sought further information from Imnian counterparts
          during a visit to Tehran in December 2010, they confirmed that 60 persons had been
          executed in Mashhad in pending cases mostly linked to drug trafficking. On 3 January
          2011, seven persons convicted of drug trafficking were hanged in the western city of
          Kermanshah' 7 . On 19 January 2011, 10 persons were executed in Rajai Shahr prison in
          relation to drug trafficking.' 8 On 24 January 2011, three persons charged with rape were
          executed in Evin prison.' 9
          14. A worrying trend is the increased number of cases in which political prisoners are
          accused of Mohareb (enmity against God) offences which carry the death penalty. In Iran's
          law, Mohareb relates to the use of armed violence, however Special Procedures mandate
          holders and other independent experts have questioned the problematic and athitrary nature
          of such charges. At least 22 persons charged with Mohareb have been executed since
          12 According to numerous reports, foreign citizens including from Nigeria and Afghanistan were among
          those executed for drug related charges. Zahra Bahrami, an Iranian-Dutch dual citizen was executed
          on 29 January 2011 on charges of drug trafficking. The Iranian authorities note that Iran 's laws do
          not distinguish between Iranian and non-Iranian nationals who commit a crime in Iranian territory.
          ‘ The penalty for trafficking and trading 30 grams of crystal meth, just like other psychedelic
          substances such as crack and heroin are punishable by imprisonment whereas more than 30 grams is
          punishable by death. http://www.isna.ir/ISNAINewsView.aspx?IDNews-1 687435&LangP
          ‘ http://www.irannewsdaily.comlview_news.asp?id2 13176,
          http://english.farsnews.comlnewstext.php?nn89 10071407 and
          http://wv.dadiran.ir/default.aspx?tabid4O&ctledit&mid389&code7697
          ‘ http://www.ima.ir/newsshow.aspx?nid3O 114827
          16 http://news.police.ir/ncms/fullstory/?id202488
          ‘ http://isna.ir/ISNAINewsView.aspx?IDNews- 168671 8&LangP
          18 http://www.ima.ir/newsshow.aspx?nid3O 195341 and
          http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1698211 &langp
          ‘ http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1701 668&langP
          6
        
          
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          January 2010. On 20 December 2010, 11 men accused of links to a bomb attack on 15
          December in Chabahar were hanged in Zahethn Prison, after being convicted and
          sentenced to death for “corruption on earth, enmity against God and countering the sacred
          system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” 2 ° On 28 December 2010, authorities executed Ali
          Saremi and Ali Akbar Siadat at Tehran' s Evin Prison. Ali Saremi was charged with
          Mohareb for having links with a banned opposition group, the Mujahidin e Khalq
          Organization (MKO) while Ali Akbar Siadat was convicted of espionage for foreign
          intelligence services. 2 ' On 24 January 2011, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei
          were executed having been accused of Mohareb for their alleged participation in post-
          election unrest and contacts with People's Mujahidin Organization of Iran (PMOI). 22 The
          High Conmiissioner for Human Rights has previously expressed concern to the Iranian
          authorities over the fair trial and sentencing to death of persons for Mohareb offences. 23
          15. According to Dr. Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary General of the High Council
          for Human Rights in Iran, over 50 percent of death penalty cases involve retribution or
          qisas. The Iranian authorities exclude the State's responsibility in such cases on the ground
          that the Sharia jurisprudence considers qisas a private right of the victim's family which
          cannot be overruled by judiciary. The judiciary expends considerable effort in mediating
          between the victim's family and perpetrator to promote a diyah settlement in which the
          victim's family forgoes this right, sometimes following a monetary settlement. However,
          when the power of pardon is not viewed as lying with the State, this does not fulfil the
          defendants' rights to appeal for pardon or commutation under international law. In one
          such case, Shahla Jahed, who had contracted a temporary marriage with Nasser
          Mohammad- Khani, a former striker for the Iranian national football team, was executed on
          1 December 2010. Shahla Jahed was convicted of stabbing to death her husband's
          permanent wife.
          16. Iranian law also criminalizes all sexually oriented mlations outside valid marriage
          and individuals convicted of engaging in illicit sexual relations could face severe
          punishment, including the death penalty. Under the Islamic Penal Code of Iran, amongst
          other hudud crimes, certain sexual conduct including adultery, incest, rape, fornication for
          the fourth time by an unmarried person, sodomy, lesbianism for the fourth time, sexual
          conduct between men without penetration for the fourth time, fornication by a non-Muslim
          man with a Muslim woman are punishable by capital punishment. The High Commissioner
          for Human Rights wrote to the Iranian authorities to express concern about two such cases
          which were committed by persons under the age of 18 (detailed in the subsequent section
          on juvenile executions). In June 2010, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or
          arbitrary executions also reported to the Human Rights Council on communications to the
          Government concerning the application of the death penalty in sodomy cases, including
          some involving juveniles (see Annex One). As indicated above, the Human Rights
          Committee has consistently rejected the imposition of death sentences for offences that do
          not result in the loss of life and termed them incompatible with the provisions of the
          ICCPR.
          17. A number of public executions were reported during the period under review
          suggesting that the circular banning public executions issued in January 2008 by the former
          head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, has not been effectively enforced. At least two
          public executions were carried out in January 2011. According to Iranian media, a 32 year
          old man identified as Yaqoub was publicly hanged on 5 January 2011 for stabbing a man to
          20 http://www.ima.ir/htm111389/13890929/30133861.htm
          21 http://www.isna.ir/isna/newsview.aspx?idnews- 1682865&lange
          22 http://www.isna.ir/isna/newsview.aspx?idnews- 170 1665&langp
          23 A1651370
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          death. 24 The public hanging which took place at Sadat Abad square in Tehran was
          reportedly attended by the victim's family and large crowds. On 24 January 2011, Omaid
          Berg who was convicted of killing 10 women was publicly executed in Qadus Square,
          Karaj city. The execution was attended by officials from the judiciary, military and
          residents of the area. 25 The High Commissioner for Human Rights condenmed the
          recurrence of public executions in her public statement of 2 February 2011. International
          human rights mechanisms have stated that executions in public add to the already cruel,
          inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty and can only have a dehumanizing
          effect on the victim and a brutalizing effect on those who witness the execution.
          C. Executions of juvenile offenders
          18. Execution of juvenile offenders remains an ongoing concern, as highlighted in
          previous reports of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the situation of
          human rights in Iran.26 The age for criminal liability still remains at 8 years and 9 months
          for girls and 14 years and 7 months for boys, which is not only discriminatory but also low
          by international standards. The Iranian authorities note however that priority is given to the
          rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and the return of children to normalcy and society.
          Although fewer juvenile offenders were executed in 2010 than in previous years, death
          sentences against juvenile offenders continue to be reported. .27 In June 2010, the Special
          Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions noted with concern the cases
          of at least nine juvenile offenders who were at risk of imminent execution for crimes
          committed when they were minors. The Convention on the Rights of Chi1d28 and the
          International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights29, to both of which Inn is a State
          party, prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on those who are under the age of 18
          years at the time of their crime
          19. The judiciary decreed a non-binding moratorium on juvenile execution in 2005 and
          has often taken active steps to mediate between the families in such cases, even assisting
          the convicted person financially to pay the diyah settlement. When cases involving
          juvenile offenders are prolonged until the accused reach 18 years, however, the risk of
          execution becomes higher.
          20. In his report to the Human Rights Council in June 2010, the Special Rapporteur on
          extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions reported on several past communications
          with the Iranian authorities which are detailed in Annex One. The High Commissioner for
          Human Rights also continued to intervene on individual cases through public statements
          and private representations with the Iranian authorities. For instance, in a letter of 13
          January 2011, to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the High Commissioner
          expressed grave concerns about the death sentence handed down to Mr Ehsan Rangraz
          Tabatabaaie and Mr Ebrahim Hamidi, both minors, following conviction on charges of
          lavat or sodomy. Both defendants were convicted for crimes committed when they were
          minors.
          24 http://w v.dadiran.ir/Default.aspx?tabid4O&ctlEdit&mid389&Code7750 and
          http://www.ima.ir/newsshow.aspx?nid30 170347
          25 http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1701 748&langp
          26 A1631459, A1641357 and A1651370,
          27 The Special Rapporteur noted that there is no other country in the world in relation to which he
          regularly receives allegations of this type. A/HRCI4I2O
          28 Article 37 (a)
          29 Article 6, para. 5
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          D. Stoning as a method of execution
          21. The application of stoning as a method of execution in Iran was again a focus of
          concern during this period. Under the existing Islamic Penal Code of Iran, adultery while
          married is punishable by stoning. Despite a moratorium on stoning declared by the head of
          Judiciary in 2002, the Judiciary continues to sentence both men and women to execution by
          stoning. The instruction serves as guithnce for individual judges but lacks binding legal
          effect.
          22. The Human Rights Committee holds the view that stoning to death for adultery is a
          punishment that is grossly disproportionate to the nature of the crime. 30 Likewise, the
          Special Rapportuer on Torture stressed that states cannot invoke provisions of domestic law
          to justify the violation of human rights obligations under international law, including the
          prohibition of corporal punishment. 31 Iran however maintains that the punishment of
          stoning for married persons who commit adultery serves as deterrence in order to maintain
          the strength of family and society and that such charges are, by design, very difficult to
          prove. At a judicial colloquium held in December 2010 (detailed below), Dr Mohamad
          Javad Larijani argued that stoning should not be categorised as a ‘method of execution', but
          rather a method of punishment which is actually more lenient because 50 per cent of
          persons survive. Nevertheless, the authorities have indicated that parliament is currently
          reviewing the punishment of death by stoning.
          23. The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning
          in 2006, mceived considerable international attention. Ms Ashtiani was convicted of the
          murder of her husband, but was also charged with adultery while being married and
          sentenced to death by stoning. She has already spent five years in prison and received 99
          lashes. Following an international outcry, the authorities confirmed, most recently on 17
          January 2011, that the “stoning penalty of Ms Ashtiani is suspended since families of her
          husband have forgiven her, but she was sentenced to 10-years imprisonment.” 32 On 9
          February 2011, Iran's Prosecutor General announced that the sentence of Ms Ashtiani has
          not been revoked. 33 During the trial proceedings, the authorities however arrested Mr Javid
          Houtan Kiyan, her defense attorney, and Mr Sajjad Qaderzadeh, her son, and also aired her
          confessions on television, which raised serious concerns about the fairness of the trial
          proceedings.
          E. Women's rights
          24. In his previous reports to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General has reported
          in detail on concerns relating to the protection of women's rights in Iran. In particular, he
          has raised concern with the suppression of women's rights activists as well as female
          journalists, many of whom have faced intimidation and harassment, and in some cases
          detention or travel bans. In her report to the Human Rights Council in June 2010, the
          Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences reported on
          several past communications with the Iranian authorities which are detailed in Annex One,
          particularly in relation to antsted members of the Campaign for Equality, also known as
          the “one million signatures” campaign. The Iranian authorities contest that there is a wide
          ° Human Rights Committee, General Comment 20.
          ‘ A/60/3l6Para28
          32 According to Iranian press, the Chairwoman of the Iranian Parliament Human Rights Committee
          wrote in these terms to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
          http://www.isna.ir/ISNAINewsView.aspx?IDNews-1 696800&LangE
          http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1711851 &langp
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          spectrum of women's rights activists in Iran but some individuals have failed to gain legal
          permission for their NGOs or have engaged in illegal activities and disturbed public order.
          Several other women's rights related cases are dealt with in other sections of this report,
          including with respect to stoning and freedom of association, opinion and expression.
          F. Rights of minorities
          25. Concerns continued with respect to the treatment of the Baha'i community and other
          minorities in Iran which have been highlighted in previous reports of the Secretary-General
          to the General Assembly. Special Procedures mandate holders continued to raise cases
          involving members of the Baha'i community with the Iranian authorities. The authorities
          note that while Baha'i is not recognized as an official religion, its followers enjoy equal
          social, civil and citizen's rights; they assert, however, that the Baha'i community has
          recruited members by irregular means or has acted against national security. On 13 August
          2010, a number of Special Procedure mandate holders 34 drew the attention of authorities to
          the cases of at least six members of the Baha'i community Mr. Ghavamoddin Sabetian, Mr
          Hedayatollah Rezaie, Mr Houman Hourbod, Ms Noura Nabilzadeh, Ms Sara Mahboubi and
          Mr Moshtagh Samandari, who were arrested by officials from the Intelligence Ministry in
          the months of June and July 2010. Concerns were expressed that in most cases, Intelligence
          Ministry agents searched their homes and confiscated materials related to their religion.
          26. In August 2010, the seven Baha'i community leaders, Ms Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr
          Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Naeimi, Mr Saied Rezaie, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli, Mr Vahid
          Tizfahm, Ms Mahvash Sabet, were sentenced to 20 years in prison; their sentences were
          subsequently reduced to 10 years. The seven had been detained since 14 May 2008,
          although were only produced for trial on 12 January 2010. The High Commissioner for
          Human Rights raised their case several times in letters to and meetings with the Iranian
          authorities, expressing deep concern that these trials did not meet due process and fair trial
          requirements. She requested the opportunity for independent observers to monitor this and
          other high profile grounds, although this was rejected by the Iranian authorities. Although
          the seven were charged with acting against national security, espionage and spreading
          corruption on earth, the High Commissioner expressed concern that the charges brought
          against them appeared to constitute a violation of Iran's obligations under the ICCPR, in
          particular freedom of religion and belief, and freedom of expression and association.
          Reports also continued to be received about Christians, in particular converts, being
          subjected to arbitrary arrest and harassment.
          27. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, after considering the
          combined eighteenth and nineteenth periodic reports of Iran in August 20 io 35 , expressed
          concern at the limited enjoyment of political, economic, social and cultural rights by inter
          alia, Arabs, Azeri, Baloch, Kurdish communities and some communities of non- citizens, in
          particular with regard to housing, education, freedom of expression and religion, health and
          employment, despite the economic growth in the countly. The Committee drew particular
          attention to reports regarding the application of the “gozinesh” criterion, a selection
          procedure that requires prospective state officials and employees to demonstrate allegiance
          to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the state religion, and expressed concern that it may
          limit employment opportunities and political participation for members of Arab, Azeri,
          Baloch, Jewish, Armenian and Kurdish communities.
          Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Working on Arbitrary Detention, the
          Independent Expert on Minority Issues
          CERDIC/IRNICOI1 8-19
          10
        
          
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          28. Members of the Kurdish community have continued to be executed on various
          national security-related charges including Mohareb. At least nine Kurdish political
          prisoners, including Jafar Kazemi, Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaie and Ali Saremi were
          executed since January 2010, and several others remain at risk of execution
          G Freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion
          and expression
          29. In his report to the Human Rights Council in June 2010, the Special Rapporteur on
          the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression drew
          attention to a large number of communications he had sent to the Iranian authorities
          concerning serious allegations of restrictions imposed on the rights to freedom of opinion
          and expression, detailed in Annex One. Between January 2009 and February 2010, the
          Special Rapporteur sent 22 joint communications and one individually. Serious concerns
          were expressed regarding the situation of journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and
          persons who express views which were critical of the Government. The Special Rapporteur
          noted with concern that the continued detention of individuals might be related to their
          work as human rights defenders and for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
          30. Persistent reports of curbs on the media, which has affected print media, weblogs
          and websites, were received during the period under review. Journalists, bloggers, human
          rights defenders and lawyers continue to be arrested or subjected to travel bans, and reports
          continued to be received of restrictions on media weblogs and websites. For instance,
          Iranian media on 22 November 2010 reported that “Chelcheragh”, a reformist weekly has
          been allegedly banned for publishing articles contradictory to public morals. 36 In his report
          to the Human Right Council in June 2010, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
          protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, noted that more than ten
          national dailies including Kalamah Sabz, Etemad e Melli, Hayat No and Sarmayeh, have
          reportedly been closed down after publishing articles that are not in line with official
          policies. Iran's authorities argue that the press is fme to publish articles other than those
          which disturb Islamic principles or public or private rights. They assert that no writer or
          journalist has been prosecuted for what he or she has written and that the judiciary has
          shown leniency when dealing with press offences.
          31. According to numerous reports, in September 2010, journalist Hussein Derakhshan
          was given a long-term prison sentence for charges including espionage, propagating against
          the regime, insulting Islamic sanctities, insulting the leaders of the country, and setting up
          and managing vulgar and obscene websites The authorities mported that Mr Derakhshan
          was sentenced to a 22 and half years in prison and also prohibited from involvement in the
          media (print and cyberspace) and the activities of political parties. The sentence could be
          appealed. Several other journalists received similarly heavy sentences. For instance, in
          September 2010, Mr Emadeddin Baghi, a journalist and founder of the Centre for the
          Defence of Prisoners' Rights was reportedly sentenced to six years of imprisonment and
          five years of deprivation of civil activities. Mr Baghi was already sewing one year of
          imprisonment imposed against him in July 2010, on charges of “waging propaganda against
          the Islamic Republic of Iran by propagating lies to disturb the public mind”. The Special
          Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and
          36 http://isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews-1 660287
          11
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          expression noted that he and several other Special Procedure mandate holders 37 had raised
          the case of Mr. Maziar Bahari, a leading Canadian-Iranian editor, playwright, film-maker
          and journalist who was arrested in June 2009, reportedly held incommunicado without
          charge at Evin prison, where he had no access to legal representation or his family, apart
          from two short phone-calls to his mother.
          32. Restrictions have reportedly adversely affected the environment for the publishing
          industry and writers, and resulted in number of writers postponing publication of books.
          For instance, according to numerous reports, authorities in Iran have banned the books of
          well-known Brazilian author Paulo Coelho which have been published in Iran since 1998.
          33. The past months have been marked by a mounting crackdown on human rights
          activists and lawyers in Iran. Several prominent human rights defenders have been charged
          with national security offences and disproportionately convicted to heavy sentences and
          travel bans. Others, including their family members, have faced intimidation and
          harassment. The judiciary has criticized lawyers for violating their code of conduct and
          professional ethics by talking to the press. The Head of the Iranian judiciary on several
          occasions deplored lawyers' interviews with media and stressed that some lawyers were
          seeking to undermine the state with their interviews. Iranian lawyers contest that such
          public advocacy on behalf of their clients has become more necessary in the face of
          arbitrary judicial proceedings.
          34. Of particular concern was the case of Ms Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human
          rights lawyer involved in defending many high profile cases. Her case is emblematic of the
          much broader crackdown on human rights defenders in Iran and has received significant
          international attention. Ms Sotoudeh was arrested on 4 September 2010 and charged with
          “acting against national security,” “not wearing hejab (Islamic dress) during a videotaped
          message,” “propaganda against the regime,” and for membership in the “Center for Human
          Rights Defenders.” However the case against her is widely believed to be linked to her
          work as a human rights defender. On 8 January 2011, she was sentenced to 11 years in jail,
          and a 20 years ban from practicing law and leaving the country. Ms Sotoudeh has mostly
          been held in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin Prison since her arrest. During her
          detention, Ms Sotoudeh went on hunger strike for several weeks, protesting against her
          prolonged detention without trial and the detention conditions of other prisoners. While
          confirming Ms Sotoudeh's sentence, the authorities note that the judgment is not final and
          is subject to appeal.
          35. On 16 January 2011, Mr Reza Khanthn, the husband of Ms Sotoudeh who has
          publicly campaigned for fair treatment for his wife, was summoned for questioning by the
          authorities and charged with spreading lies and disturbing public opinion. Mr Khandan was
          released after the posting of USD 50,000 bail but he remains at risk of further sanctions by
          the authorities.
          36. In a public statement on 23 November 2010, the High Commissioner for Human
          Rights expressed serious concern for the fate of human rights defenders in Iran, particularly
          Ms Sotoudeh, and urged the Iranian authorities to review her case urgently and expedite her
          release. The High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that many of those who are
          currently detained are associated with the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)
          founded by Nobel Laureate, Shim Ebadi. Mr Mohamad Saifzadeh, a lawyer and co-
          founder of CHRD, was sentenced to nine years in prison and a ten-year ban on practicing
          law for propaganda against the system and “forming an association whose aim is to harm
          The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection
          of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other
          cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
          12
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          national security.” Other members of CHRD are being prosecuted on similar charges, or
          have been detained for shorter periods and prevented from travelling abroad. Several other
          human rights defenders and lawyers who were associated with human rights organizations
          or representing clients in sensitive cases were also prosecuted, arrested or put under travel
          ban in recent months. The High Commissioner urged the Iranian authorities to also review
          cases of other organizations whose members have been arrested or convicted in recent
          months including the Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners in Iran and the
          Committee of Human Rights Reporters, as well as individual lawyers representing clients in
          sensitive cases together with student activists and leaders. The authorities reported that Mr
          Mohammad Seifzadeh has appealed against the sentence and was subsequently released on
          bail.
          37. The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights in the absence of the High
          Commissioner also wrote to the Government on 22 December 2010 highlighting concerns
          about the case of Ms Sotoudeh and also cases of other human rights activists, who are
          prosecuted or convicted. She expressed concern that Mr Mohammad Oliyaeifard, a lawyer
          and board member of the Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners in Iran, is
          sewing a one year prison sentence imposed for allegedly speaking out against the execution
          of his clients during an interview with media. She also noted that Mr Javid Houtan Kiyan,
          who defended Ms Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was arrested on 10 October 2010 and is
          still under investigation for links to anti-revolutionary groups abroad. The Deputy High
          Commissioner encouraged the Government of Iran to fully guarantee freedom of expression
          and assembly and to open up greater space for human rights lawyers and activists who play
          a pivotal and constructive role in protecting human rights in all societies.
          38. Reports have been received about continued curbs on members of opposition
          groups. A number of opposition parties have had their licenses suspended, and some leaders
          have reportedly been barred from travelling outside the country. Security officials have
          allegedly periodically prevented visitors from visiting opposition leaders and their premises
          came under sporadic attacks by unknown assailants. Press were reportedly directed not to
          publish items about opposition leaders and their mquests to hold rallies were frequently
          turned down. These measures will adversely affect the environment for conducting the
          upcoming parliamentary elections this year.
          39. Opposition activists arrested in the wake of post-election unrest continue to receive
          heavy sentences. According to Iranian press, in January 2011, the Appeal Court in Tehran
          upheld a sentence of 10 years imprisonment and another 10 year ban from political
          activities and membership in parties for Mr Emad Bahavar, head of the youth bmnch of the
          reformist Freedom Movement party. Mt Bahavar, who was arrested in December 2009,
          was charged with membership in the Freedom Movement, collusion and assembly, and
          propaganda against the regime. Also internationally acclaimed film-maker Jafar Panahi,
          whose case attracted considerable international attention, was sentenced to 6 years
          imprisonment, coupled with a 20 years ban on film making, film writing, travelling abroad,
          and giving interviews to domestic and international media. Mr. Panahi was arrested in
          March 2010 and charged with collusion and propaganda against the system. 38
          H. Lack of due process rights
          40. The right to a fair trial is a key element of human rights protection and serves as a
          procedural means to safeguard the rule of law. The International Covenant on Civil and
          38 http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1691741 &langp and
          http://www.isna.ir/isnalnewsview.aspx?idnews- 1677747&langp
          13
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          Political Rights, of which Iran is a party, under article 14 stipulates a series of due process
          and fair trial guarantees, including the right of all persons to a fair and public hearing by a
          competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Many fair trial
          safeguards are provided for in Iran's constitution and legal framework. Concerns were
          raised throughout the year by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special
          Procedures mandate holders about the procedural guarantees being observed in relation to
          trials of government opponents. The formation of a special court inside Evin prison for
          political and security cases have exacethated concerns about due process rights for
          detainees. For instance, during preliminary investigations judges only receive information
          from intelligence officers, suspects' lawyers are not entifled to meet with their clients, and
          judges have to work in an environment that is under the oversight of the Ministry of
          Intelligence.
          41. Special Procedures mandate holders issued several communications to the Iranian
          authorities in a variety of cases that suggested widespread lack of due process rights and the
          failure to respect the rights of detainees. Particular concerns were expressed at routine
          practice of incommunicado detention, use of torture and ill-treatment in detention, use of
          solitary confinement and detention of individuals without charges. Concerns were also
          expressed in public about people sentenced to death often do not have access to legal
          representation and their families and lawyers are not even informed of the execution.
          Although article 35 of the Constitution requires all courts to hold hearings and sessions in
          the presence of a defense counsel and considers judgments issued without the presence of a
          defense attorney null and void, in practice many defendants are denied this core right.
          Article 128 of the code of criminal procedures narrows down this constitutional guarantee
          by giving judges discretionary authority to exclude a counsel from hearings on sentencing
          in sensitive cases; or a counsel may be present but may not speak until the end of the
          proceedings. Reports received further suggest the use of confession extracted through
          coercive methods being admitted in court proceedings and the setting of disproportionately
          high bail payments for the release of detainees.
          III. Cooperation with international human rights mechanisms
          and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
          Human Rights
          A. Universal Periodic Review
          42. As noted in the Secretary-General's last report to the General Assembly, Iran was
          considered under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on 15 Febmary 2010, and
          the final UPR outcome was adopted by the Human Rights Council on 10 June 2010. A
          total of 188 recommendations were made, of which Iran fully accepted 123, partly accepted
          3, rejected 46, and took note of the remaining 16 recommendations. Seven of the rejected
          recommendations relate to the visit of some specific Special Procedures 39 , although Iran did
          accept recommendations about general cooperation with the Special Procedures 40 . Other
          recommendations that enjoyed support of Iran included promoting economic, social and
          cultural rights, and establishing National Human Rights Institutions in conformity with the
          A/HRC/14/12, Paragraph 92, recommendations 5-11 which calls for the facilitation of visits by
          Special Rapporteur including the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cmel, inhuman and
          degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapportuer on the independence of judges and
          lawyers, and the Working Group on arbitrary detention.
          40 Ibid, para 90, recommendations 24-28
          14
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          Paris Principles. Iran also agmed to consider the abolition of executions of juvenile
          offenders and guaranteeing free and unrestricted access to the internet.
          B. Cooperation with the United Nations Human Rights Treaty System
          43. In addition to the ratification of five major United Nations human rights treaties 41 ,
          the Islamic Republic of Iran on 21 September 2010, signed the Optional Protocol to the
          Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Childmn in Armed Conflict.
          44. On 4 and 5 August 2010, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
          Discrimination considered the 18th and 19th periodic reports of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran, which were due in 2006 mspectively. The Committee noted various positive
          developments that have taken place in Iran including the approval of the Law on Citizenry
          Rights in 2005, the amendment of the fourth Development Plan which allows budget
          allocations and a percentage of oil and gas revenues for the development of less developed
          provinces, particularly inhabited by disadvantaged ethnic groups and Iran's active
          engagement with the international community on human rights issues, such as its initiative
          on promoting dialogue among civilisations. The Committee however expmssed concerns at
          reports of racial discrimination in everyday life and statements of racial discrimination and
          incitement to hatred by government officials. It noted that women of minority origin may
          be at risk of facing double discrimination. The Committee noted that the Convention has
          never been invoked by domestic courts and expressed its concern at reports of
          discriminatory treatment of foreign nationals in the Iranian justice system. The Committee
          encouraged Iran to consider ratifying those international human rights treaties that it has not
          yet ratified. During 2009, Inn submitted for examination its third periodic report on the
          implementation of the ICCPR to the Human Rights Committee and its second periodic
          mport concerning the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social
          and Cultural Rights. These are the first mports from Iran to these two Committees in more
          than a decade and are expected to be considered in October 2011 and 2012 respectively.
          C. Cooperation with the United Nations Special Procedures
          45. The Islamic Republic of Iran issued a standing invitation to all thematic special
          procedure mandate holders in June 2002. During 2003 and 2005, six Special Procedures
          visited Iran, but there have been no visits by any Special Procedures since 2005.
          46. The Govenm ent of Iran has agreed in principle to a number of visits of the Special
          Procedures including the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances 42 , the
          Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions 43 and the Special
          Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief 44 . However, these have not been scheduled.
          “ Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Fornis
          of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International
          Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Convention on the Rights of
          Persons with Disabilities
          42 A visit was agreed to for July 2004 but was postponed. Follow-up reminders for setting dates were
          sent in 2008, 2009 and August 2010.
          Initial request sent in Nov 2004. 2006. Follow-up requests sent in Febmary 2005, October 2005,
          November 2006, and December 2008 and latest in September 2010.
          “ Visits were agreed to in principle in November 2003. Several follow-up requests and reminders were
          sent, the latest in November 2010.
          15
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          47. The Special Rapporteur on torture first requested an invitation in 2005, and yearly
          reminders have been sent ever since, most recently in December 2010. Requests for visits
          were also made by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression in
          February 2010, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in 2006,
          (reiterated in her communication reports of both 2009 and 2010), and the Independent
          Expert on minority issues in 2008 (who sent a reminder in October 2010). A reminder was
          sent by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2008.
          All the requests remain outstanding.
          48. The Special Procedure mandate holders sent a total of 38 communications to the
          Islamic Republic of Iran in 2010, of which 36 were urgent appeals while 2 were allegation
          letters. The Iranian authorities msponded to six communications in 2010, although several
          replies have been received since.
          D. Cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
          for Human Rights
          49. On 24 February 2010, the Islamic Republic of Iran officially invited the United
          Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the country, which the High
          Commissioner accepted for 2011, but mquested that a working-level mission be allowed to
          visit Iran to prepare for her visit in advance. On 24 January 2011, Dr Larijani, the
          Secretary-General of the High Council for Human Rights, wrote to the High Commissioner
          inviting such an advance mission.
          50. On 1 and 2 December 2010, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
          and the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran conducted a judicial colloquium in Tehran.
          This event developed out of ongoing contacts between OHCHR and the judiciary in Iran
          since 2007. The High Council for Human Rights of the Islamic Republic of Iran co-chaired
          the event, and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran were also present.
          51. The colloquium was attended by three international experts - Dr Kamal Hossain of
          Bangladesh, Professor Walter Kaelin of Switzerland, and Judge Aisha Shujune Muhammad
          of the Maldives — along with OHCHR staff OHCHR encouraged the participation of 35
          judges and prosecutors on the Iranian side, including judges of the Supreme Court, the
          Court of Appeals and the Revolutionary Courts, as well as officials from the prison system
          and correctional institutions but regrettably, a large number of Iranian judges could not
          participate and benefit from the experience of the international experts. The authorities
          explained that a number of invitees could not participate due to a holiday declared on
          account of smog pollution but added that judges who attended the event have organized in-
          house seminars to share their experiences with their colleagues.
          52. The topics of the colloquium were human rights issues related to the administration
          of justice, in particular safeguards for persons upon arrest and in pre-trial detention, fair
          trial and due process rights during the trial phase, and conditions of imprisonment post-
          conviction, including the prevention of torture. The meeting also reviewed mlevant
          experiences and resources with regard to training and professional development of the
          judiciary.
          53. The colloquium was opened by Dr Mohamad Javed Larijani, the Secretary-General
          of the High Council for Human Rights of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who welcomed the
          cooperation which had developed between the judiciary and OHCHR but expressed
          concern about the politicisation of human rights in inter-governmental bodies. The High
          Commissioner for Human Rights also conveyed a message to the meeting, emphasising the
          important role judges play in upholding the State's international human rights obligations,
          the need to mspect the independent role of lawyers and give them time and access to
          16
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          perform their professional duties, and the value of exchanges of international experiences
          and practice of this kind. The High Commissioner encouraged Iran to engage fully with the
          UN human rights mechanisms, by facilitating country visits by Special Rapporteurs and
          allowing independent observers access to high profile trials.
          54. Discussions among the participants addressed a wide range of issues, with
          considerable attention to various elements of fair trial procedure in the light of the main
          element of the General Comment 32 made by the United Nations Human Rights Committee
          on Article 14 of the ICCPR. The discussion also touched on pre-trial investigation, arrest
          procedure, issuance of warrants, judicial review and supervision of investigation, time
          limits for temporary detention, notification and communication with families, access to
          lawyers, the role of prosecutors vis-à-vis judges, the right not to be coerced into making
          self-incriminatory statements and confessions, the supervision of places of detention and
          separation of pre-trial detainees from convicted prisoners, prison conditions, protection
          needs of women prisoners, and children with women in detention, as well as judicial
          training and in-service professional development. The experts noted the safeguards
          provided in Iran's Constitution, as well as executive directives since passed as law, but also
          considerable ambiguity and lack of clarity in their implementation. There was no official
          outcome or communiqué from the meeting.
          IV. Conclusion and recommendations
          55. The present report highlights many areas of continuing concern for human
          rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Secretary-General has been deeply
          troubled by reports of increased executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and
          detention, unfair trials, and possible torture and ill-treatment of human rights
          activists, lawyers, journalists and opposition activists.
          56. The Secretary-General encourages the Government to address the concerns
          highlighted in the report and the specific calls to action found in previous resolutions
          of the General Assembly as well as the Universal Periodic Review process. The
          Secretary-General notes the important and constructive role the human rights
          lawyers and activists play in protecting human rights and encourages the Government
          of Iran to fully guarantee freedom of expression and assembly and to open up greater
          space for human rights lawyers and activists.
          57. In relation to other concerns identified in the report, the Secretary-General
          notes that the authorities have taken some positive steps, for instance to prevent
          stoning as a method of execution or limit the application of the death penalty to
          juvenile offenders. The Secretary-General expresses concern, however, that these
          measures have not been systematically enforced and cases of this nature continue to
          arise. He encourages the Government to revise national laws, particularly the Penal
          Code and juvenile justice laws, to ensure compliance with international human rights
          standards and prevent these applications of the death penalty and other punishments
          which are prohibited under international law.
          58. The Secretary-General welcomes the recent signing of the Optional Protocol to
          the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed
          conflict, and calls upon the Government to also ratify other international human
          rights treaties, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
          Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
          Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and to withdraw the reservations it
          has made upon the signature and ratification of various human rights treaties, as
          recommended by the respective treaty bodies.
          17
        
          
          AJHRCI16I7 S
          59. The Secretary-General welcomes Iran's recent efforts to update its periodic
          reporting to the human rights treaty bodies. He encourages Iran to act upon the
          concluding observations made in August 2010 by the Committee for the Elimination
          of Racial Discrimination with respect to discriminatory practices against women,
          ethnic and religious minorities and other minority groups.
          60. Although the Government issued a standing invitation to the Special
          Procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council in 2002, the Secretary-
          General regrets that no visit has taken place since 2005 and encourages the
          Government to facilitate their requested visits to the country as a matter of priority in
          order that they might conduct more comprehensive assessments. The Secretary-
          General is also concerned about the low rate of reply to the large number of
          communications sent by the Special Procedures, alleging very serious human rights
          violations and calls upon the Government to strengthen its collaboration with the
          Human Rights Council in this particular area. The Secretary-General underscores
          the valuable contribution special procedures mandates can make to monitoring and
          reporting on the human rights situation in Iran, as well as facilitating technical
          assistance in relevant areas.
          18
        
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Freedom of Religion, Free Speech, Gender Rights, Due Process, Death Penalty