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Report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Maurice Danby Copithorne, pursuant to Commission resolution 2000/28

E/CN.4/2001/39

          
          UNITED
          NATIONS
          Economic and So
          cial Distr.
          Council
          GENERAL
          E/CN.4/200 1/39
          16 January 2001
          Original: ENGLISH
          COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
          Fiifiy-seventh session
          Item 9 of the provisional agenda
          QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL
          FREEDOMS 1N ANY PART OF THE WORLD
          Report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, prepared
          by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights .
          Mr. Maurice Danby Copithorne , pursuant to Commission resolution 2000/28
          Paragraphs
          Page
          Executive summary 3
          Introduction 1 - 6
          I. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE' S ACTIVITIES
          AND SOURCES 7-9
          II. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION 10-22
          A. The press
          B. Students
          III. THE STATUS OF WOMEN 23 -28
          10 - 15
          16-22
          4
          5
          5
          S
          7
          8
          E
          CONTENTS
          GE.01-10218 (E)
        
          
          E/CN.4/200 1/39
          page 2
          CONTENTS ( continued )
          Paragraphs
          Page
          IV. LEGAL SUBJECTS 29- 55
          A. Reform of the judicial system
          B. Rules of fair trial and related matters
          C. Lawyers and the Bar Association
          D. Prisons
          E. Apostasy
          F. Executions
          0. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
          or punishment
          29-31 9
          32-35 10
          36-44 11
          45-47 12
          48-50 13
          51 14
          52 - 55
          14
          V. THE STATUS OF MINORITIES 56- 81
          A. Ethnic minorities
          B. Religious minorities
          C. A national minorities policy
          56-60 14
          61-79 15
          80-81 18
          VI. TREATMENT OF INTELLECTUALS AND POLITICAL
          DISSIDENTS 82 - 94
          A. Serial murders and disappearances
          B. The Berlin Conference trial
          VII. DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL SOCIETY 95-98
          VIII. OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS 99- 134
          A. Economic, social and cultural rights
          B. Children
          C. OEe Islamic Human Rights Commission
          D. Violence in Iranian society
          E. Drugs
          IX. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF
          THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN 135
          X. CONCLUSIONS 136- 145
          Annexes
          I. Information on the situation of the Baha'is 30
          II. Correspondence between the Special Representative and the Government of
          the Islamic Republic of han, July-i December 2000
          9
          14
          82 - 87
          88 - 94
          18
          18
          19
          20
          21
          21
          23
          25
          25
          27
          28
          28
          99
          108
          117
          122
          128
          - 107
          -116
          - 121
          - 127
          - 134
          31
        
          
          E/CN.4/200 1/39
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          Executive summary
          Iran today is a conundrum. It is possible to argue that Iranian society is more open now
          than it was ffive years ago. Certainly, every shade of opinion seems to make itself heard despite
          the massive suppression of the reformist press. Democracy in the form of popular elections
          continues to make progress. Some argue that the point of self-sustaining take-oL has been
          reached.
          However, it is also possible to conclude that breaches of human rights are in large part as
          egregious today as they were ffive years ago. The jailing ofjournalists and political dissidents,
          and the general denial of fair trial continues unabated. OEe equality rights, that is, those of
          gender and those to which minorities, both ethnic and religious, are entitled are by and large
          unrecognized. OEe eLorts of the Majlis to make a modest start on the first group of rights have
          faced strong opposition. While there has been some unoffcial indication of a limited
          improvement in the second, it is clearly not a popular cause outside the minority communities
          themselves.
          The leitmotiv of political life in Iran today seems to be the struggle for power between
          two political elites, one claiming the support of the people, and the other the authenticity of
          religion and the revolution. OEis is being played out in the control of the electoral process, in the
          control of the media, in the improvement in the status of women and in the reform of the
          judiciary and the judicial process.
          The Special Representative continues to believe - if somewhat cautiously - that progress
          is irreversible. The next year should tell whether this conffidence is well placed.
        
          
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          page 4
          Introduction
          1. The year 2000 was a tumultuous one in the Islamic Republic. OEere were signifficant
          events in many sectors and many of them had an impact on human rights, their enjoyment and
          their denial.
          2. Perhaps the most signifficant of these developments was the sharpening dispute between
          two groups of political elites generally, but not very accurately, characterized as reformers and
          conservatives. Neither group is monolithic. Reformers are to be found among the clerics and
          among businessmen. Conservatives, particularly on such equality issues as the status of women
          and of religious and ethnic minorities, are to be found throughout the elites and indeed
          throughout Iranian society. OEis leads inevitably to a rather chaotic and oifien sterile political
          discourse, and there have been calls for the development of a party system with politicians being
          obliged to espouse a more or less coherent package of policy positions and, in principle, be held
          accountable for the results. However, the system is such that the right to establish political
          parties, apparently guaranteed in the Constitution, has been recognized only selectively.
          3. Perhaps the principal political development of the year were the Majlis elections in
          February in which a substantial majority of a large turn-out gave their vote to individuals who
          might be characterized as reformers. Despite certain constraints, the election was another
          important step on the road to democratic governance. However, the result was clearly viewed as
          dangerous by conservative elements, who undertook a number of countermeasures to constrain
          the reformist trend. Most notable was the wholesale suppression of the reformist press by the
          judiciary and their allies, the apparent encouragement of increasing violence by vigilante groups
          and organizations of youthful morality guardians and, generally, the use of the law enforcement
          agencies, the courts and their allies as instruments to suppress dissent, in particular that of
          students, journalists and intellectuals.
          4. As the year went on, the President was increasingly expressing his frustration with the
          political situation. He suggested that the expectations of groups such as the students had become
          too great, while for their part the conservatives, in the name of religion, were resisting all change
          oifien by unconscienciable means. At one point he declared certain political groups impose their
          will on society in the name of religion and this is a sign of the community's backwardness”. The
          President continued to place great store in the full implementation of the Constitution but
          complained publicly that he did not have suffcient powers to do so. Later, he announced that a
          Constitutional court would be established to facilitate the implementation process. In October, it
          was announced that the heads of the three branches of government plus the head of the
          Expediency Council, meeting with the Supreme Leader, had agreed that reform was a need as
          well as a necessity” and that the subjects to be at the top of the reform process were the
          alleviation of poverty, corruption and discrimination”.
          5. During the year, increasing attention was paid to the socio-economic condition of the
          society. OEe President and his Government came in for criticism for neglecting the economic
          condition of the country and the severe impact this was having on the life of the average Iranian
          in terms of inflation, unemployment and a deteriorating public infrastructure. Public
          disturbances became more visible. By general consensus, the gap between rich and poor was
        
          
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          growing and the society was moving away from the implementation of the social rights set out in
          the Constitution - welfare, education and housing - and in the comparable international human
          rights norms.
          6. All of this said, the Special Representative believes that Iran is going through a period of
          critical turmoil, a struggle for the soul of Iranian society, for certain values such as justice, one of
          the oldest political values going back to, the scholars say, the Achaemenian period, and for the
          more modern ones of accountable governance and the welfare and the dignity of all citizens.
          The Special Representative believes that change is clearly underway and that given certain
          foundational improvements that have taken place in areas such as women's education,
          democracy and health, the trend is now irreversible.
          I. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE'S ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES
          7. The Special Representative introduced his fourth report to the OEird Committee of the
          General Assembly (A155/363) on 1 November 2000. 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 ito 13 December 2000 to draifi the present report. OEe programme for
          his stay in Geneva included a number of consultations and meetings with senior off cials of the
          Government of the Islamic Republic and the OLice 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.
          8. In 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.
          9. During the period under review, the Special Representative received written
          communications from the following non-governmental organizations: Association for World
          Education; Amnesty International; Baha'i International Community; Association for the Defence
          of Political Prisoners in han; Committee to Protect Journalists; Human Rights Watch;
          International Alliance in Support of Workers' Struggle in Iran; International Federation of
          Iranian Refugees; Iranians for International Cooperation; Iran National Front in Britain; National
          Council of Resistance of Iran; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Reporters
          without Borders; The Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN.
          II. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
          A. The press
          10. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative recorded the
          attack on the reformist press as being perhaps both the biggest story in Iran this year as well as
          the most evident mass suppression of human rights. By mid-summer, the press had been
          virtually closed down by the judiciary, with one senior member of the Guardian Council
          declaring this to have been the best thing done by the Judiciary since the Revolution”.
        
          
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          In mid-August, as the interim report was being ffinalized, a senior member of the judiciary was
          quoted in the press as saying that perhaps the closure of the press had gone too far and that a
          change of attitude could be expected. In fact, this proved not to be the case.
          11. Accurate ffigures of the number of papers closed or subject to inquiry, and journalists in
          prison or subject to inquiry, are hard to come by. One knowledgeable estimate in mid-November
          was that 30 papers had been closed and 25 journalists prosecuted, of whom 9 were then in jail.
          On 28 October, the press quoted the Deputy Minister of Islamic Guidance and Culture as saying
          that no new press licences had been issued over the previous six months, apparently because the
          judiciary had delayed processing the applications.
          12. An earlier initiative by the Majlis to amend the press law had run afoul of an
          unprecedented intervention by the Supreme Leader. Later, the Majlis had attempted to soifien the
          legislation by formally declaring its interpretation of the operation of the statute, only to run
          afoul this time of the Guardian Council, which declared the statement of interpretation to be
          against Islam (see para. 97 below).
          13. Some papers have been closed down without a hearing, that is to say the articulation of
          speciffic charges and the right of the respondent to rebut them. Other closures and jailings have
          been based, according to press accounts, on ffindings of
          Dissemination of false news;
          Insulting religion;
          Harming national security;
          Inciting public opinion;
          Propaganda against the State;
          Striving to weaken the system;
          Defamation;
          Violating the election law;
          all of which in the Special Representative's view, likely speak to a political agenda on the part of
          those laying the charges. In short, the campaign against the reformist press continued up to the
          date this report was ffinalized in mid-December.
          14. Also in mid-December, it was announced that the President had ffinally accepted the
          outstanding resignation of Ayatollah Mohajerani, the Minister of Islamic Guidance and Culture
          and the author of the liberalization of the press and the arts. His letter said, in part, the
          conditions and requirements that have taken shape in the realm of art, culture and the intellect
          have made it impossible for me to continue my duties ... We have not achieved any success
          worthy of our nation, writers and artists”.
        
          
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          15. The Special Representative would draw the attention of the Commission to its most
          recent resolution on the right to freedom of opinion and expression (2000/3 8 of 20 April 2000),
          and in particular the concern expressed therein at the extensive occurrence of detention,
          long-term detention and extrajudicial killing, persecution and harassment, involving through the
          abuse of legal provisions on criminal libel, of threats and acts of violence and of discrimination
          directed at persons who exercise the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the
          right to seek, receive and impart information”. The Special Representative believes the current
          situation in Iran to be one of the attempted and currently successful mass suppression of
          two fundamental human rights, the right to the freedom of expression itself and the right to be
          free from detention for seeking to exercise that right.
          B. Students
          16. The Special Representative believes that, as the socio-political situation continues to
          evolve, it is appropriate to take a more focused look at the status and role of students, particularly
          at the university level. As is the case in many societies, students and universities in Iran play a
          leading role in intellectual life and in the nurturing of change. OEe University of Tebran in
          particular is widely seen as a treasured resource in this regard. The diffculty is and has been,
          that the ideas of youth are often immature and, whether immature or not, are oifien anathema to
          governing elites who frequently see universities as communities of radical ideas hostile to the
          status quo.
          17. In Iran today, the students are certainly playing a signifficant role in the search for new
          values, including greater freedom and an intellectual independence for individuals. OEe values
          associated with republicanism and theocracy are inevitably being re-examined. OEe recognition
          of human rights has oifien been at the heart of the discourse which although usually non-violent,
          sometimes results in mistreatment, injury and even death. Students were at the heart of major
          demonstrations in several cities in the summer of 1999 and again in 2000. These demonstrations
          have usually been the target of organized violence by Islamic vigilantes, the Basiji and others
          (see paras. 126-127 below).
          18. In the spring of 2000, there were further arrests of student leaders, in particular some of
          those arrested in 1999 and subsequently released. In May, the press reported that vigilantes beat
          up pro-democracy students in an attack on a rally inside the campus of the University of Tehran.
          In mid-June, student activist groups complained of accelerating harassment. hi early July, the
          Speaker of the Majlis referred to July 1999 as a bitter experience”, criticized those who made
          false accusations against students and said laws would be adopted to protect academic
          institutions from police intervention. OEe actual anniversary of the July 1999 demonstrations
          was marked by demonstrations and further arrests of students. The presence of anti-student
          vigilante groups was noted in the press.
          19. In the middle of July, the Head of the Judiciary promised students that the true
          oLenders” of the 1999 incidents would be identiffied. Also outstanding is a complete accounting
          for all the students arrested in 1999 and not subsequently released. There are reports that there
          may still be several hundred in detention. Extraordinarily moving open letters from the families
        
          
          E/CN.4/200 1/39
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          of those imprisoned have come to the attention of the Special Representative, as has a cri de
          coeur” about the state of his country by a student leader subjected to mistreatment before his
          release.
          20. In late August 2000, the south-western city of Khorramabad witnessed the largest
          outbreak of violence since the July 1999 student demonstrations. OEe main national students'
          reformist group was holding its annual meeting in Khorramabad, for which it had received the
          necessary permission. Two leading reformers invited to speak to the meeting were blockaded in
          the airport for six hours, apparently by vigilantes bussed to the scene. OEree days of clashes
          between students, vigilantes, police and other law enforcement agents ensued. According to
          press accounts, about 100 persons were injured and a policeman was killed. A number of
          students are said to be still in detention.
          21. The aifiermath was revealing. An investigating team from the State Inspectorate
          Organization, a branch of the judiciary, quickly declared that one of the Interior Ministry's
          deputy ministers and several local offcials were responsible. The Supreme National Security
          Council, chaired by the President, rejected the report as illegal”. Student leaders said the report
          had nothing to do with the truth”. One was quoted as saying It is an extremely bizarre
          situation. Our authorized seminar has been attacked and our members have been savagely
          beaten up by hard-line vigilantes. Yet, we are blamed for the riots”. According to press
          accounts, the attacks were very well organized and could only have been carried out with the
          approval and support of powerful groups. The law enforcement agencies must come under
          suspicion in this regard.
          22. It seems to the Special Representative that one has to look no further than the struggle
          against the Shah to appreciate how signifficant the role of students has been in seeking a better
          form of governance, a better life for Iranians. OEe Government must ffind a way to channel the
          enthusiasm of the students into open, constructive discourse about the future of the country.
          III. THE STATUS OF WOMEN
          23. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative stated that
          despite certain improvements in the status of women, there had been little if any change in the
          systemic discrimination that Iranian women have been facing. He referred to the extensive
          section on women that appeared in the Human Development Report of Iran, 1999 , focusing
          particularly on violence against women.
          24. In the second half of 2000, the newly elected Sixth Majlis became the most active player
          in seeking improvement in the status of women. Too oifien, however, the reform legislation
          passed by the Majlis was rejected by the Guardian Council, apparently because it was deemed to
          be un-Islamic”. If rejected, legislation that is again passed by the Majlis and again rejected can
          then be brought before the Expediency Council, which can in eLect overrule the Guardian
          Council. As of mid-December, the Majlis had enacted legislation in the following areas, but
          apparently none of the bills have as yet become law:
          Increase in the age of marriage without court approval for girls from 9 to 14 and for boys
          from l4to 18;
        
          
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          Removal of the existing ban on unmarried women studying abroad;
          Expansion of the grounds on which a woman may obtain a divorce;
          Upon the death of employed women, the transmission of her pension rights to her
          children.
          25. Despite the high rate of women university graduates, few private sector job opportunities
          exist for women, only 10 per cent of whom hold jobs outside the home. The women who are
          employed are treated unequally, not receiving the same pay for the same work and only rarely
          appointed to key posts.
          26. A male academic was reported in the press as declaring that the fundamentalist strand
          that dominates Iran's decision-making centres has stood in the way of substantive advances for
          women. A woman activist declared, it is not Islamic laws, but their interpretation by male
          scholars that is the main dilemma”. A woman member of the Majlis declared, what must be
          done is a reformation of male chauvinism in Iranian society”.
          27. The Special Representative calls on the Government to seek the cooperation of the
          Guardian Council and the Expediency Council in recognizing the will of the Iranian people as
          reflected in the initiatives of the Majlis, and to expedite the enactment of long overdue change to
          Iranian legislation aLecting the status of women. In this regard, the Special Representative notes
          the statement on 25 July attributed by the Iranian press to the Head of the Judiciary to the eLect
          that family court procedures will be reviewed in order to put an end to the tyranny of women ...
          This has nothing to do with Islamic jurisprudence but rather originated from rather unhealthy
          norms prevailing in society”.
          28. The Special Representative would also draw the attention of the Government to
          General Comment No. 28 of the Human Rights Committee on article 3 of the Covenant
          (CCPR/C/2 1/Rev. 1/Add. 10, 29 March 2000), which provides new guidelines on equality of
          rights between men and women.
          IV. LEGAL SUBJECTS
          A. Reform of the judicial system
          29. In his recent reports the Special Representative has noted the candid comments of the
          Head of the Judiciary 18 months ago on the state of that important component of government,
          and he has welcomed the prospect of reform. However, since then, despite much apparent
          discussion, mostly in private, very little has transpired other than the commitment to re-establish
          the procuracyby 31 March 2001.
          30. Typical of the comments that continue to be made is that of the head of the legislative
          aLairs branch of the judiciary, who was quoted in the press as stating when you have a situation
          in criminal cases where one person brings a complaint and that same person is also the judge and
          the man responsible for enforcing the judgement, it can create the impression that the judge is
          not impartial”. The Special Representative may be permitted to add, yes indeed!”.
        
          
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          31. More recently, the press reported that the Head of the Judiciary, at a public meeting, had
          said, We need to undertake serious, prudent reforms in the Judiciary. OEe Judiciary is suLering
          from an old justice system dating back to the despotic regime of the Shah which made it diffcult
          for independent and committed judges to function”. In November, the Web site of an Iranian
          newspaper was reported to be carrying a detailed account of a recent circular letter by the Head
          of the Judiciary to all judges. According to this account, the letter made the following points:
          Judges were warned against unjustiffied” detention of suspects and prisoners in solitary
          cells, preventing prisoners meeting with their lawyers, and summoning suspects by
          telephone and then detaining them without informing their families, Unfortunately”,
          some judges have unsuitable” attitudes and their treatment of defendants and of suspects
          has been in contravention of the rules of legislated and canonical laws”.
          Judges needed to honour the human rights of defendants and must observe all the rules
          pertaining to procedural aLairs.
          Torture, inhuman treatment of the suspects and defendants and violations of their human
          dignity was forbidden.
          Judges were not to discuss private matters and personal needs with any person who might
          be involved in a judicial case.
          Improper or unbecoming behaviour was to be avoided, as was any action which might
          be injurious to the dignity and reputation of their profession or to the status of the judicial
          power. OEey must earn the respect and support of the public”.
          The infringement of the rules and regulations on the rights of suspects and defendants
          would lead to prosecution and, upon conviction, to permanent dismissal. OEe heads of
          departments and courts were to ensure that the contents of the letter are enforced.
          This is of course an important statement, which exposes or at least conffirms certain critical
          weaknesses of Iranian judges. For a description of the present situation, see section B below.
          B. Rules of fair trial and related matters
          32. The concept of a fair trial still seems to be an elusive one for many Iranian judges. OEe
          Special Representative has in the past set out what he believes to be the essential qualities of a
          fair trail (see E/CN.4/2000/35, paras. 34 and 35). A number of these qualities are indeed covered
          in the Iranian Constitution. OEe worst oLenders appear to be the Revolutionary Courts and the
          Special Clerical Court. Neither institution seems to accept the idea of open trials, of the presence
          of lawyers chosen by the defendants and the access of such lawyers to their clients at every
          stage, of the access of defendants to their families, of a statement of the facts alleged and charges
          flowing therefrom, of refusing to try the defendants in the media with the use, for example, of
          televised confessions and of advising the defendants or their lawyers before the verdict is
          published.
        
          
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          33. Occasionally the proceedings of Revolutionary Courts are open and the conduct of the
          judges is publicly exposed. In the current trial of the persons who attended the Berlin
          Conference (see paras. 88-94), the judge's comments were reported in the press as follows:
          You charged in a speech that there was censorship and a smothering atmosphere in Iran
          before President Khatami's election' said Moghadas, stabbing the air for emphasis and
          scowling from the bench. What you were saying was an absolute lie. This was not a
          fact, this was your opinion. Defend that! “
          On another occasion the same judge, on being informed by a defendant that he had been tortured
          by prison off cials, told him to produce witnesses.
          34. In the trial of the 13 Jews in Shiraz, defence counsel stated that no evidence was ever
          adduced that secret material was handed over by the defendants, despite which they were
          convicted. In the same case, mysterious Muslims alleged to have provided secrets to the Jews
          were never identiffied by the authorities or seen in court and were apparently released on bail
          months before the trial. It is an open question whether they were in fact ever brought to trial.
          35. The problem of the lack of fair trial certainly seems to be widespread and one must
          wonder whether the recent circular letter by the Head of the Judiciary referred to in paragraph 31
          above, will by itself really solve the problem. It seems to run much deeper, starting with the
          training ofjudges and, in particular, the evident need to instil an ethical sense ofjudicial
          integrity. Senior judges, particularly the heads of the courts in Tehran province, need to be seen
          as setting a high standard in this regard.
          C. Lawyers and the Bar Association
          36. Lawyers and more particularly their treatment by the judiciary have come to the fore over
          the past six months.
          37. In June, a prominent human rights lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, was quoted in an interview as
          saying that she was not allowed to be present with two clients while they were being questioned,
          nor to interview them aifierwards. Ebadi declared that the Bar Association had ignored her
          request that it pursue this matter with the court in question, and as she could not carry out her
          responsibilities, she had therefore resigned.
          38. In late August, the press reported that another prominent defence lawyer, Mohammad Ali
          Jedari-Forouqi, had been arrested for OEelping his client make false allegations against the
          country's judiciary” in an interview with the Voice of America. In September, he told the press
          that he had been released on bail aifier a month in jail only aifier agreeing not to talk to foreign
          radio stations. He declared he had spent 10 days in solitary confinement.
          39. In September, Shirin Ebadi and another prominent human rights lawyer,
          Mohsen Rahami, were given suspended prison sentences and were suspended from practising
          for five years for OEaving slandered senior government offcials”. OEey had been arrested in
          July, refused bail for three weeks and subsequently tried in camera due to national security”.
        
          
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          40. In October, two members of the defence team of the Jews in Shiraz told the press they
          had been discharged by their clients amidst allegations the clients had come under pressure to
          take this step. Earlier, the lead defence lawyer had told the press that he and a colleague had
          been threatened that, if they did not admit their clients were guilty, they too would be charged
          with spying.
          41. According to a press report in November, a prominent professor of law,
          Dr. Mohsen Esmaeili, was found not to be a lawyer” and was suspended from teaching
          aifier taking part in a television interview in which he asserted that the press laws now in
          force were against the rules and regulations of constitutional law.
          42. In mid-December, the press reported the detention of a lawyer, Nasser Zarafshan, who
          was representing the families of the victims in the serial murder case (see paras. 82-87 below).
          43. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative queried why
          the Independent Bar Association had not protested the suspension of the licences of Ebadi and
          Rahami. In fact, it subsequently did so, according to press accounts, asserting that under Iranian
          law, lawyers could only be suspended aifier a hearing by their peers.
          44. The Special Representative ffinds such treatment of lawyers to be in gross violation of
          the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress
          on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of OLenders. OEe Special Representative
          takes note of the latest statement on this subject by the Commission on Human Rights in its
          resolution 2000/42 on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors,
          and the independence of lawyers, of 20 April 2000, and he calls upon the Government of Iran to
          ensure that the independence of Iranian lawyers in the discharge of their professional activities is
          fully recognized by all government entities and in particular by the judiciary. Further, the
          Special Representative urges the Independent Bar Association to accept its responsibility to
          pursue this objective with urgency and determination.
          D. Prisons
          45. Over the past year, the overcrowding in the Iranian prison system has become a major
          issue. In October, one press account described Iran's prisons as OEvercrowded dens of
          drugtaking, where the spread of infectious disease is rife”. The Deputy Minister of Health was
          quoted as saying he had visited a prison in Isfahan where 16 men were kept in a cell 12 metres
          square. He said prisoners were at risk from the spread of AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis. Of
          those infected, 56 per cent had caught diseases through the sharing of syringes. He called for
          urgent action to save the prisoners, their families, prison guards and eventually the whole of
          society from the spread of dangerous and infectious diseases”. A senior offcial of the National
          Prisons Organization was quoted in September as expressing the view that criminality was rising
          at an alarming rate, adding that 650 children currently live in prisons with their mothers.
          46. A Majlis inspection team has recently visited a number of prisons in Tehran province but,
          to the Special Representative's knowledge, their ffindings and recommendations have not yet
          been made public.
        
          
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          47. One of the continuing problems in this sector has been the illegal” detention centres, that
          is to say facilities run by various government law enforcement agencies. Despite the testimony
          of former inmates, the existence of such institutions was traditionally denied by the Government.
          However, in recent years the Islamic Human Rights Commission has publicly insisted that they
          do exist. One of these is Towheed prison in Tehran, a notorious centre of much mistreatment of
          persons in pre-trial detention. These illegal institutions were to have been transferred to the
          National Prisons Organization, but this would seem not yet to be the case. According to the
          press, the Majlis inspection team referred to above visited two such institutions in Tehran
          province. OEe Special Representative trusts their report will be published soon.
          E. Apostasy
          48. In November 1999, the President declared at a press conference 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 and religion. Recently the issue of apostasy has entered the
          mainstream discourse in Iran. However, the press reported that in connection with the July
          demonstrations at the University of Tehran, one of the students, Mr. Behrouz Javid-Tehrani, had
          been found guilty of apostasy by a Revolutionary Court in closed session.
          49. In 2000, a cleric, Hassan Yuseffi Eshkevari, was tried in camera by the Special Clerics
          Court for apostasy, Moharebeh (Waging war against God), spreading corruption, insulting
          religious sanctities and endangering national security. Eshkevari is described as a mid-level
          cleric who advocates greater pluralism and tolerance with regard to, for example, the Islamic
          dress code. He also faces charges in the Revolutionary Court as one of the Iranian participants in
          the April 2000 Conference in Berlin (see paras. 88-94 below). OEe Speaker of the Majlis has
          condemned the charges of apostasy and Moharebeh against Eshkevari as unacceptable” and the
          President has declared that the establishment should not be enraged because of criticism or
          condemn critics for apostasy”. According to the press, the General Prosecutor for the Special
          Clerical Court admitted that it has never been speciffied who is considered as an apostate, a
          Moharabeh or a corruptor”. He added, however, that the punishment of such a person is to be
          carried out in accordance with article 513 of the Law on Islamic Punishment; the punishment for
          insulting the sanctities of Islam ... is execution”. According to the press, the Eshkevari family
          expects a death sentence. One commentator has observed that the Eshkevari case might be the
          ffirst conviction for apostasy of a Muslim cleric since the Revolution. It remains for the Special
          Representative to state the obvious: such a conviction and such a sentence would be violations
          of international human rights norms, whatever the religion of the person concerned.
          50. As has also been pointed out by the Special Representative and his predecessor on
          numerous occasions, the available evidence clearly suggests that Baha'is have been convicted of
          apostasy in Iran and that some of them have been executed. Two Baha'is, Mr. Musa Talibi and
          Mr. Dhabihu'llah Mahrami, have been in jail under conviction of apostasy and sentence of death
          since the mid-1990s. In both cases, there is unoffficial information that the sentences have been
          commuted to life imprisonment. A third Baha'i under death sentence for apostasy was released
          in 1994, but the apostasy conviction does not appear to have been resolved. A fourth Baha'i,
          Mr. Ruhu'llah Rawhani, was executed in 1998, convicted of having converted a woman to the
        
          
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          Baha'i faith. OEe woman concerned refuted the charge. The Special Representative urges the
          Government to formally quash or liifi the outstanding convictions against the ffirst three Baha'is
          mentioned above, and that the first two also be released.
          F. Executions
          51. Information reaching the Special Representative has placed the number of executions
          reported in the Iranian press from 1 January to 1 December 2000 at about 200, with two other
          persons having been pardoned by the victim's family at the site of the prospective execution.
          0. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
          52. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative dealt in some
          detail with how torture had entered the public discourse, not least through the personal testimony
          of students detained in connection with the July 1999 student demonstrations. He also reported
          on what is believed to have been the ffirst indictment for torture against a police offcer. Since
          that report was written there has been other personal testimony of torture, including that of a
          political activist detained after the July 1999 demonstrations, Mr. Roozbeh Foraharipour, and
          most recently that of a detained journalist, Akbar Ganji (see para. 91 below).
          53. On a more positive note, the Special Representative notes the speciffic reference to torture
          in the Head of the Judiciary's recent circular letter to the judges enumerating various types of
          conduct that will no longer be tolerated.
          54. On several occasions in recent months there have been unconffirmed reports that the Head
          of the Judiciary has called for the implementation of talion and retribution with their own form
          and formalities”, i.e., their implementation in public.
          55. OEe Special Representative once again calls upon the Government to implement fully
          Commission resolution 2000/43 on this subject, as well as the principles attached to that
          resolution.
          V. THE STATUS OF MINORITIES
          A. Ethnic minorities
          56. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative briefly
          described the Kurdish and Azeri communities in Iran, as well as their historically somewhat
          tempestuous relationship with the central Government. He also reported the views expressed to
          him by informants in these communities that they were being denied their rights to cultural
          autonomy as provided for in article 15 of the Constitution, as well as in relevant international
          instruments, in particular article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
          The same views would likely also be expressed by informants in the Baluch community whose
          condition the Special Representative has discussed before, as well as those in the Arab
          community.
        
          
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          57. In his interim report, the Special Representative reported on the impoverished state of the
          areas occupied by Kurds and the President's recent commitment to provide more central
          government funds to address the economic problems of these areas.
          58. The Special Representative has recently received renewed representations concerning the
          whereabouts and welfare of seven members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan
          reported to have been abducted in 1996.
          59. In the case of the Azeris, the press has recently reported the publication of a letter to the
          President signed by academics and members of the Majlis which condemned racism and listed
          eight demands, including a Turkish language national television channel, the right to education
          in Turkish, economic development assistance and the ffilling of senior government positions with
          Azeris. In mid-September, the President visited West Azerbaijan, where, the press reported, he
          drew a roar of approval from the crowd by speaking a few words in Turkish and promising
          cultural and economic development assistance.
          60. The Special Representative has received unconffirmed reports of the release from
          detention of the Azeri activist, Dr. Mahmudali Chabregani, whose background he described in
          paragraph 70 of his interim report.
          B. Religious minorities
          1. General
          61. In han, the ideal of religious tolerance goes back a long way. With Cyrus the Great, the
          scholars report, there occurred a fundamental shiifi of outlook among rulers of the ancient
          Middle East. In the words of one scholar, provided that public order was not threatened,
          individuals could do much as they pleased, and most were pleased to accept the religious
          traditions of their ancestors. Moreover, respect for the various religious practices came to be
          expected. OEe desecration of places of worship or of statues of the gods ceased to be a matter of
          pride, as it had been in earlier times”.
          62. The reality in Iran today is that politics have intruded upon this tradition. What have
          come to be known as the equality rights, gender equality and religious equality, are not yet
          generally recognized. Much has been written about the off cial and unoffcial discrimination
          faced by the recognized minorities, as well as the active persecution faced by the unrecognized
          minorities. OEe Sunni Muslims also complain of discrimination.
          63. Any discussion of religious intolerance in Iran should begin with the 1996 report of
          the Special Rapporteur on the question of religious intolerance (E/CN.4/1996/95/Add.2
          of 9 February 1996).
          2. Recognized religious minorities
          64. In earlier reports, the Special Representative has described the condition of the three
          recognized religious minorities, the Zoroastrians, the Jews and the Christians. Despite having
          reserved seats in the Majlis and considerable freedom in their religious, educational and cultural
        
          
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          activities, they are monitored closely and have chafed under certain requirements such as, until
          recently, having a Muslim director of their schools. OEe recognized minorities have also faced a
          variety of discriminatory practices in the legal system such as, until recently, receiving lower
          awards in damage suits and incurring heavier punishment in criminal cases. Muslim men may
          marry non-Muslim women but not the reverse. By law and practice non-Muslims are barred
          from holding senior government or military positions.
          65. In the case of the Jews there have been particular problems. The arrest, the prolonged
          detention without access to lawyers or family, at least at ffirst, and the subsequent conviction
          of 10 of them under circumstances that were suspicious as to origin and unfair as to process have
          had a negative impact on the Jewish community in han. With regard to the 10 convicted, the
          Special Representative is informed that they are being kept in one of the illegal” detention
          centres of the law enforcement agencies. A number of them should already have been released
          under a provision of Iranian law that permits release aifier 30 per cent of the sentence has been
          served.
          66. The Special Representative is informed that anti-Semitism has been growing over the
          past three or four years, seemingly sponsored by State agencies. One example was the
          anti-Semitic serials shown on the Woice and vision” programme of State television, which
          ignored complaints fflom the community and removed the programmes only when they became
          unpopular. Reports reaching the Special Representative suggest that, in early 1997, a fatwa
          opened the door to denying the passing of Jewish estates to the heirs on the grounds that they had
          been connected to Zionism (or) international arrogance”. Clearly, the President's Committee
          on the Implementation of the Constitution should be addressing such situations.
          67. Evangelical Christians face particular hardships. The Government seems to equate
          Christianity with the traditional ethnic Christian communities in Iran. In fact, like the Baha'is,
          the evangelical Christians are Iranian by language and culture. OEey do not enjoy the limited
          rights of the ethnic Christians and are suspected of being engaged in conversion activities. OEeir
          worship services are subject to harassment and from time to time they have suLered persecution
          and even death for their beliefs.
          68. The Special Representative condemns this harassment of minority groups and calls on the
          Government to take action to protect the rights of all religious minorities, as set out in the Iranian
          Constitution and in international legal norms.
          69. There are now indications that the Government may be introducing some changes in the
          treatment of at least the recognized religious minorities. Government sources state that the
          religious minorities may now appoint one of their own as school director and that this has
          already happened in the case of three Armenian schools. Secondly, the granting of lower
          damage awards to members of minority religious groups is now being actively discouraged and
          three courts have already abolished the practice. Thirdly, there is an increase in the number of
          minority language courses taught in religious minority schools and there is an eLort to
          institutionalize the teaching of minority languages in accordance with article 15 of the
          Constitution. Fourthly, a special committee has been set up in the Ministry of the hiterior to
          address the problems of the religious minorities.
        
          
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          70. All of this is good news and hopefully these intentions will be fully implemented. It
          should be noted, however, that so far they do not appear to apply to the ethnic minorities nor to
          the non-recognized religious minorities.
          3. OEe Baha'is
          71. Concern about the human rights situation of the Baha'is remains on the agenda of the
          Special Representative with reports on situations of discrimination and persecution. Despite
          some promising reports, the Special Representative understands that the Baha'i community
          continues to experience discrimination in the areas of, inter alia , education, employment, travel,
          housing and the enjoyment of cultural activities. Baha'is are still in eLect prevented from
          participating in religious gatherings or educational activities.
          72. Ten Baha'is remain imprisoned and at least two of them, Mr. Bihnam Mithaqi and
          Mr. Kayvan Khalajabadi, are subject to the death sentence (see annex II). Owing to the practice
          of conveying verdicts orally instead of providing prisoners with a copy of the court decision,
          it is diffcult to determine their status (see annex II). The Special Representative received a
          letter dated February 2000 from the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
          to the Offce of the United Nations at Geneva stating that spokesmen for the judiciary had
          denied conffirmation of the death sentences of Hidayat Kashiffi Najafabadi and
          Sims Dhabihi-Muqaddam. OEe Special Representative has received information from
          other sources that conffirms that the death sentences of Hidayat Kashiffi Najafabadi and
          Sims Dhabihi-Muqaddam have been commuted to ffive and seven years' imprisonment
          respectively.
          73. Concerning the case of the six Baha'is briefly detained during the raids on the Baha'i
          Institute for Higher Education in 1998, the Iranian courts have now decided to return their
          confiscated property, as the charges against them were not substantiated.
          74. In his interim report, the Special Representative reported the elimination of questions
          regarding religion at the time of the registration of marriage. There are now reports that religion
          will also no longer be requested in the matter of registration of birth, divorce or death.
          75. Another important development is the report that the Baha'is will be allowed to
          re-establish their cemetery in Tehran. OEis has been one of the outstanding demands of the
          Baha'i community, whose cemeteries, holy places and administrative centres were seized shortly
          aifier the 1979 revolution.
          76. In acknowledging the positive changes reported in paragraphs 73, 74 and 75 above, the
          Special Representative wishes to reiterate his appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic
          to implement his outstanding recommendations (A153/423, para. 45), as well as those of the
          Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance (see E/CN.4/ 1996/95/Add. 2).
          4. The Sunnis
          77. The Special Representative has regularly received complaints from members of ethnic
          minority groups that are Sunni by religion. OEis applies particularly in the case of the Baluch,
        
          
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          the Kurdish Sunni community and the Arabs. The complaints of discrimination, harassment,
          even murder have been particularly strong in the case of the Baluch. With regard to the Kurdish
          Sunni community, the Special Representative has received a long list of cases of alleged
          bureaucratic obstruction of applications to build or rebuild Sunni mosques.
          78. In late November, the press reported a speech by a Sunni Kurd member of the Majlis in
          which he spoke out strongly about what he described as a campaign of repression, serial murder
          and the banning of the faith of Sunni Kurds”.
          79. Finally, the absence of a Sunni mosque in Tehran has been a longstanding source of
          complaint that was raised in the Majlis in June 1999.
          C. A national minorities policy
          80. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative urged the
          Government to adopt a national minorities policy. It is self-evident, on the one hand, that certain
          minorities are among the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the country and, on the other,
          that most minorities are not enjoying the rights set out in article 27 of the International Covenant
          on Civil and Political Rights, nor indeed even the limited rights set out in the Constitution.
          81. The Special Representative reiterates his recommendation that the Government begin
          work on a national minorities policy as a matter of priority, with the full involvement of the
          minorities themselves. As a ffirst step, the Special Representative urges the President's
          Committee on the Implementation of the Constitution to speed up its work with regard to
          minority rights.
          VI. TREATMENT OF INTELLECTUALS AND POLITICAL DISSIDENTS
          A. Serial murders and disappearances
          82. In each of his recent reports the Special Representative has reported on a string of
          murders in late 1998 and early 1999 of intellectuals and dissident political ffigures which have
          become known in Iran as the chain or serial murders. By some reports, the chain stretches back
          over a number of years and forward at least to the end of 1999 and has claimed many lives.
          83. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative noted the
          tortuous and suspicious course of events around government eLorts to investigate the murders
          and bring the culprits to trial. There has developed a widely held perception that a full revelation
          would identify people in high places. In March 2000, a newspaper editor apparently
          knowledgeable about this aLair escaped an assassination attempt. Subsequently, two prominent
          human rights lawyers were arrested in connection with the making of a video of a former Ansari
          Hezbullah member in which he revealed certain connections between the perpetrators and senior
          offcials of the regime.
          84. In late November, the deputy head of the judiciary announced that the trial of 18 persons
          would open on 23 December, 3 as principals and 15 as accomplices. OEe press reported that the
        
          
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          flies were being examined by the iawyers of the victims' famiiies. Au but 2 of the 18 defendants
          were out ofjaii on baii, which prompted one journahst to inquire why his coiieagues were in
          jaii without baii for reporting on the case whiie most of the aiieged perpetrators were free.
          85. A series of memoriai services for the victims in November and December ied to
          demonstrations and ciashes with the poiice. According to the press, a number of persons,
          inciuding famiiy members were detained. Most of them were subsequentiy reieased, some aifier
          being charged with undermining State security” for distributing ieaflets. One famiiy member
          was quoted as saying, Aifier two years, we stiii do not know who butchered my parents”.
          Meanwhiie, some 300 poiiticai and iiterary figures reieased an open ietter caiiing on the
          Government to make pubiic the resuits of the investigation. The press reported the Head of the
          Judiciary as saying the murders were hke a tumour within the inteiiigence services”.
          86. The Government's unease in this matter is quite evident. To the Speciai Representative's
          knowiedge, none of the promised reports on the scandai has been pubiished. It remains to be
          seen how much will come to iight at the December triai.
          87. In the meantime, the Speciai Representative wants to reiterate his deep concern over this
          tragic abuse of the human rights of the victims, and his dissatisfaction with the way the
          Government has handied the investigation over the proionged period of two years.
          B. The Berhn Conference triai
          88. In Aprii 2000, the Heinrich B6ii Foundation of Germany sponsored an internationai
          conference in Berhn on the future of Iran. At the conference, certain provocateurs chanted
          dissident siogans, a woman danced and a man stripped. OEese scenes were fumed by the Iranian
          State broadcasting organization and a 10-minute distillation was subsequentiy shown repeatediy
          over Iranian teievision. OEe reaction was predictabie and many of the Iranian participants at the
          conference were arrested on their return to Tebran. OEe principai charges were reported to be
          OEarming nationai security” and spreading propaganda against the regime”.
          89. Subsequentiy, a transiator of the German Embassy in Tebran, Said Sadr, and a freeiance
          transiator, Khaiid Rostamkani, reportediy neither of whom attended the conference, were
          charged with waging war on God”, and a student ieader with spreading hes”, creating crisis”
          and espionage”. In November, a German nationai contracted by the B6ii Foundation to
          organize the conference was indicted aiong with four Iranians for acting against Iran's security
          by organizing the conference, whose purpose was to toppie Iran's government system”.
          90. The Iranian defendants inciude a number of weii-known inteiiectuais, iawyers, journaiists
          and pohticians, having in common support for the reform cause in Iran. OEe press has focused
          on the treatment of two in particuiar, a mid-ievei cieric, Hassan Yosef Eshkevari, who, in
          separate proceedings before the Speciai Cierics Court, was being tried for apostasy and other
          crimes that couid attract the death penaity (see para. 49 above), and Akbar Ganji, a feisty
          investigative journaiist who had been focusing on the seriai murders (see paras. 93-98). Except
          for these two, who faced the most serious charges, the others were, aifier various periods in
          detention, reieased on baii.
        
          
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          91. One of the ffirst defendants to come to trial was Akbar Ganji. According to press reports,
          he stated in court that he had been kicked and punched by four prison guards and a warden while
          hung upside down in a cell. He reportedly spent 80 days in solitary conffinement, although this
          has been denied by off cial sources, as well as being deprived of access to his family and lawyer.
          92. By mid-December, no other defendants had been brought to public trial, although two,
          Mebrhangiz Kar, a lawyer prominent in women's and children's causes, and Shahla Lahiji, a
          publisher, were reported by the press to have been convicted at an in camera session of the
          Revolutionary Court during which they had confessed”.
          93. These trials are showing up very clearly the need for the law being draified by the Majlis
          on the deffinition of political crimes. The President himself has pointed out that, as things stand,
          acts viewed as in conformity with public interest and national security by one person may be
          viewed as quite the reverse by another. With regard to the Ganji case, the President was quoted
          as saying he cannot imagine why the presiding judge came to the conclusion that any guilt had
          been committed in this case”.
          94. On the basis of the information available to the Special Representative, none of the
          defendants had engaged in activity that could possibly give rise to credible legal charges. It goes
          without saying that the charges against two professional translators who did not even attend the
          conference are an outrageous abuse of legal process. As a political matter, the Special
          Representative is very surprised at the fact that the judiciary has so completely played into the
          hands of the provocateurs in this incident.
          VII. DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL SOCIETY
          95. In February 2000, elections were held for the Sixth Majlis. Before the elections, there
          was a very public debate over the role of the Guardian Council in vetting candidates. The
          Minister of the Interior denounced as illegal the rejection of candidates without giving reasons
          and even aifier the deadline set by the election law. According to press reports, in the end the
          Guardian Council succeeded in excluding some 500 candidates. Aifier the elections, the
          Guardian Council, again over the opposition of the Ministry of the Interior, nulliffied a number of
          the elections without presenting evidence or explanations. The press noted that some of the
          winners in such ridings were supporters of President Khatami and that some of them were
          Sunnis. In total, election results in 11 ridings, as well as one third of the votes cast in Tebran,
          were nulliffied.
          96. Among the candidates excluded were the leader and 12 members of the Freedom Party,
          one of Iran's oldest political parties. This was despite calls from some ministers that they be
          allowed to run. Another long-established but unregistered political party, the han Nation Party
          has traditionally not attempted to present candidates in Majlis elections. Three of its leaders
          were convicted by a Revolutionary Court in February of mostly vague oLences arising out of the
          July 1999 student demonstrations. One was sentenced to 15 years and two to 13 years in prison.
          In each case, eight years of the cumulative sentence were for forming an illegal party, that is, one
          that the government oLice concerned had refused to register. By letter dated 4 December 2000,
          the Permanent Representative informed the Special Representative that their sentences had been
          commuted to one year and that, having been served, the three had been released.
        
          
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          97. When the Majlis got down to work in August, it quickly ran into obstacles. OEe ffirst was
          with the judiciary over the right of the Majlis, in accordance with article 90 of the Constitution,
          to investigate complaints brought to its attention concerning other branches of government. A
          compromise was eventually worked out. A more formidable obstacle was the Supreme Leader's
          order that a press law amendment bill be removed from the Majlis agenda. This action by the
          Supreme Leader was unprecedented and led to demonstrations in favour of and against it. The
          Sixth Majlis soon found out that many of its legislative initiatives were not to the liking of the
          Guardian Council, which rejected a number to do with the status of women. One Majlis member
          was reported in the press as declaring the action was an insult to women and Islam”. In an
          effort to ameliorate the impact of the existing press law, the Majlis had formally promulgated its
          interpretation of the operation of the statute, only to have it declared to be contrary to Islam by
          the Guardian Council. OEe Chair of the Majlis Committee on Judicial Affairs, himself a cleric,
          was reported in the press as declaring that the Guardian Council had no right to express
          opinions on the Majlis interpretation of existing laws”. According to press reports, the Guardian
          Council has rejected 17 of the 44 bills approved by the Majlis during the second half of 2000.
          98. In August, the new Majlis passed a bill that would bar the police from entering
          universities without permission. Another important legislative initiative was the creation of a
          right of access for criminal suspects to a lawyer during all phases of investigation and
          interrogation. OEe draifi forbade any interrogation of the defendant by the judge outside of the
          court and made it an offence for ajudge to ignore the right to counsel. In November, a Special
          Committee of the Majlis was set up to investigate complaints of those persons in detention
          awaiting trial who had been charged with political or press o f fences.
          VIII. OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS
          A. Economic, social and cultural rights
          1. The Government's ffiscal policies
          99. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative focused on
          labour and social conditions, as well as the relationship of such factors to the enjoyment of
          human rights. Since then, a new budget has been introduced which has triggered a renewed
          debate about the Government's ffiscal policy and the implications for the welfare of the Iranian
          people.
          100. The debate, as reflected in the Iranian press, has focused on whether the means of
          addressing the budgetary defficit will result in a vicious circle of selling more foreign currency
          at higher rates [ that will lead tol another reduction in the value of the national currency
          [ resulting in intensiffication of inflation and a reduction in people's purchasing power”. This
          year's projected sales of foreign exchange will, it is claimed, increase the liquidity of the
          currency by 23 per cent resulting in a 17 to 20 per cent inflationary impact. It is argued that in
          recent years the relationship between price levels and purchasing power has deteriorated so badly
          that there has been a signifficant decline in domestic discretionary spending power, along with an
          adverse impact on production and jobs.
        
          
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          101. It was recently asserted by a senior adviser to the President that, while the management
          of national development is the main economic challenge facing the Government, there is
          confusion in economic management and no serious supervision of approved programmes.
          Others suggest that the Third Development Plan is not the sole criterion for the economic
          development of the country”. Rather, it is political demands upon the budget process, such as
          the current 43 per cent increases in security and judiciary related expenditures, that are driving
          the budget defficits. Only a small proportion of the large revenue increases resulting from the
          sharp rise in the price of oil is reaching the people, who, it is the general consensus, are facing
          inflation, unemployment and a deteriorating social infrastructure.
          2. Job creation
          102. The unemployment estimates from off cial or semi-offcial sources range
          from 12 to 16 per cent, with some speculating that these ffigures are a gross underestimate.
          In addition, the results of the uncontrolled birth rate in the ffirst years aifier the Revolution are
          now reaching the job market. Offcial estimates place the number of persons entering the job
          market as 250,000 a year. According to the press, in the ffirst half of the current Iranian year
          only 40,000 new jobs were created.
          103. The Human Development Report of Iran, 1999 states: the burgeoning labour force is
          not the only factor in the rising rate of unemployment; unsuitable education and training, the
          uneven geographic distribution of labour supply and demand, and the economy's shiifi towards
          capital intensive technologies have also undermined employment. Indeed government
          intervention in the pricing system, the introduction of an unrealistic foreign exchange rate, low
          interest rates in the banking system and legal and regulatory restrictions on the labour markets
          have all contributed to lower capital costs and higher labour costs”.
          104. To address in part the unemployment situation, earlier in the year the Government
          included a provision in the OEird Five-Year Plan requiring the repatriation within ffive years of
          the approximately one million foreigners, mainly Afghans, now working in Iran. OEis, of course,
          has raised concern on the part of the agencies working with Afghan refugees. It is
          conventionally said that the Afghans mainly ffill jobs that Iranians would prefer not to take.
          105. What is clear is that Iran is facing a crisis in jobs that is going to require much more
          tightly focused attention than it has apparently received to date.
          3. The plight of the workers
          106. Iranian workers face a variety of problems, assuming they do have employment. One
          of the most pressing is the non-payment of salaries. In September, the press reported that the
          Director of the government-sponsored Khaneh Kargar organization declared that
          some 80,000 industrial workers had been unpaid for 3 to 36 months. In October alone the press
          reported 38 worker protests involving demands for unpaid wages.
        
          
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          4. Emigration
          107. In his interim report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative noted that
          Iranian migrants were turning up in many parts of the world. One recent British press story
          reported that the 4,000 Iranians seeking asylum in the United Kingdom last year made them the
          third largest national group of claimants. hi early December, Iranian television carried an
          unconffirmed report that 4,500 I ranians had been expelled from Croatia in the previous
          10 months. Similar reports have surfaced from many European countries, along with reports of
          substantial increases in the number of immigration applications received by foreign embassies in
          Tehran. OEe press describes the main motivation for an estimated several thousand who each
          month seek to leave the country as economic. However, many of the migrants have skills Iran
          sorely needs to retain.
          B. Children
          108. As reported by UNICEF, Iran has now achieved all the goals laid down at the World
          Summit for Children in 1990, except that for malnutrition. OEe enrolment rate in primary
          education has risen to 96 per cent at the national level; immunization rates are above 97 per cent
          and infant mortality (29 per 1,000), under-ffive mortality (33 per 1,000) and maternal mortality
          rates have all fallen signifficantly.
          109. There are also positive developments in the area ofjuvenile justice. Juvenile courts have
          been re-established and the number of juvenile judges is growing. The Third Five-Year
          Development Plan provides that, by the end of 2004, Juvenile Correction and Rehabilitation
          Centres will be established in all provinces. Judges have begun issuing alternative sanctions,
          such as sentencing young oLenders to undertake vocational training or to stay at home under the
          supervision of their parents. The judiciary has agreed to set up ajoint committee with UNICEF
          with the aim of draifiing a juvenile code by the end of 2001.
          110. These initiatives reflect the recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of
          the Child (see CRC/C/i 5/Add. 123) aifier its examination of Iran's initial report in May 2000. In
          its concluding observations, the Committee expressed its concern that persons under 18 could be
          prosecuted for crimes in the same manner as adults, were potentially liable to the same penalties
          as adults (including punishments such as amputation, flogging and stoning which the Committee
          found incompatible with the Convention), could be subject to deprivation of liberty without due
          process and, apart from facilities in some large cities, could be held in detention with adults.
          From the perspective of the rights of the child as victim, the Committee expressed its serious
          concern over article 220 of the Penal Law, which provides that a man who kills his own child or
          his son's child is subject only to discretionary punishment and the payment of blood money.
          iii. The Committee found a major problem in the deffinition of the child. Article 1212,
          note 1, of the Civil Code and article 49, note 1, of the Islamic Penal Law provide for the
          attainment of majority at predeffined ages of puberty which results in arbitrary and disparate
          applications of laws and discrimination between girls and boys with respect to legal capacity,
          civil liability and age of criminal responsibility.
        
          
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          112. The prospect of forced early marriages are reportedly one of the underlying causes of a
          relatively recent phenomenon, that of runaway girls. OEe problem has reached such proportions
          that, in 1999, Tebran and other cities established a network of shelters. As reported in the
          press, the number of runaways has increased by 30 per cent in the past year and an average
          of 45 Iranian girls run away from home each day.
          113. Runaway girls make up a large proportion of the 25,000 children who live in the streets
          of Tebran. It is reported in the press that some 100 to 150 of them die every night. OEe increase
          in the number of street children, drug addiction and prostitution among high school students, and
          suicide rates are no doubt an expression of the social crisis facing Iranian youth.
          114. An urban runaway girl was the major character in a recent Iranian ffilm. Apart from
          prostitution and drugs, the girl had to face another threat, forced virginity tests. As widely
          reported in the press, adolescent girls are picked up by morality squads on suspicion of
          fraternizing with members of the opposite sex who are unrelated to them and coerced into taking
          such tests. According to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,
          forced gynaecological examinations constitute a violation of the bodily integrity, person and
          dignity of women” (A152/3 8/Rev. 1, para. 178). Drawing on the concluding observations of the
          Committee on the Rights of the Child on the initial report of South Africa (CRC/C/iS/Add. 122,
          January 2000), the Special Representative, in the context of articles 16 and 24.3 of the
          Convention on the Rights of the Child, urges the Government of Iran to introduce guidelines for
          the law enforcement agencies and the medical profession that would preclude this practice. OEe
          Medical Association should declare this practice to be unethical.
          115. The Special Representative is informed that the Labour Code prohibits the employment
          of minors under 15 years of age and places special restrictions on the employment of minors
          under 18. However, he also understands that the law implicitly permits children to work in
          agriculture, domestic service and some small businesses. Furthermore, the recent exemption of
          workshops with ffive employees or less from the application of the Labour Code will have the
          same eLect. In February 2000, Sobh Emrouz reported that the rate of renting” a child's labour
          for one year in the carpet industry was 25 dollars to 180 dollars. In the light of information
          provided by the Government according to which the law and practice in the country concerning
          the prohibition of child labour is in conformity with the relevant international standards, the
          Special Representative encourages the Government to ratify the ILO conventions concerning
          child labour, including the Convention concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to
          Employment (No. 138), and the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action
          for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182).
          116. The Special Representative joins the Committee on the Rights of the Child in expressing
          his concern at the broad and imprecise nature of Iran's general reservation to the Convention on
          the Rights of the Child which potentially negates many of the Convention's provisions. OEe
          Special Representative encourages the Government to review its reservation, with the objective
          of withdrawing it in accordance with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
        
          
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          C. OEe Islamic Human Rights Commission
          117. The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), aifier a slow start in 1995, is now
          making quantiffiable progress. From time to time its name appears in the Iranian press as
          pursuing politically diffficult or unpopular human rights causes such as torture, illegal places of
          detention and the fate of persons who seem to have disappeared” in the judicial system. Its
          reporting, at least in English, is also improving although it still suLers from being rather too
          self-promotional and lacking in suffficient detail about the outcome of private claims it has taken
          up, that is, the remedies obtained for the complainants. From one current publication, the
          Special Representative notes that the IHRC has prepared eight supervisory reports”, some of
          them on important and politically sensitive issues such as the events at Tehran and Tahriz
          universities in July 1999, the notorious serial murders, the continuing violations of the rights of
          the press, and the violation of the constitutional rights of the people”. Unfortunately, the report
          gives no impression of the influence the IHRC has been able to have on these matters.
          118. In its appeals report for 1999/2000, the IHRC records that by far the two largest
          categories of complaints concern the judicial authorities and the right of enjoyment of fair trial”.
          However, no information is provided on the remedies it has been able to achieve where the
          complaints have been found to be meritorious.
          119. In late November, the press carried a story attributed to the han News Web site, quoting
          an interview with the Executive Secretary, Mohammed Hosseyn Zia'far. He noted that the
          examination of the 1998 serial murders OEad taken far too long”, certainly from the perspective
          of the citizen's right to know”. He expressed the hope that an IHRC representative would be
          allowed to sit in on the court hearings. He also noted that Our journalists are being slapped in
          the face and by enduring [ iti and exercising patience, they are teaching State offcials that
          nothing can be solved without tolerance and restraint”.
          120. At the request of the relatives of one of the students detained aifier the 1999 student
          demonstrations, an IHRC representative had met with the student concerned.
          121. The Special Representative looks forward to such information being made public more
          oifien and more promptly.
          D. Violence in Iranian society
          122. Some philosophers argue that a credible legal system has to have a moral baseline, that,
          in the end, morality reflects natural law values which to a greater or lesser extent, depend on
          values that are for most people religious in nature. Thus, law cannot be put in a position of
          simple opposition to religion. In the Special Representative's opinion, human rights, with their
          emphasis on the dignity and integrity of the individual, clearly have a natural law, a religious
          basis. However, certain conduct, characterized by some as religious, is not in fact valid in
          human or in moral terms. OEis certainly includes the use of violence and the belief that its use in
          the name of religion, or other cause, justifies an otherwise immoral act, one that tramples on the
          human rights of other human beings. Surely, noble ends cannot justify immoral means.
        
          
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          123. Commentators, both inside and outside of Iran, have noted the tendency to violence that
          exists among some elements of society. Put generally, it is an intolerance of the views of others
          that, in the extreme form, leads to murder. Sometimes, it is justiffied, in simple minds and the
          minds of those who direct them, in terms of religion. Clearly, the hearts and minds of the people
          as a whole will not be won over by such tactics. Even more to the point is the dignity, the human
          rights, of those made to suLer in this way. In the Special Representative's view, there can be no
          justiffication for such conduct nor for the failure of those in leadership positions to speak out
          against it.
          124. An Iranian NGO publication, in its February 1999 issue, declared:
          The denial of truth causes violence. We cannot claim to be Muslim and by using
          irreligious and immoral approaches try to reform the others. We cannot justify our
          violent and immoral behaviour and destroy the unity of society in favour of some group
          deprived of power, under the name of morality and religion”.
          125. A recent revealing example is the attempted assassination in March 2000 of
          Sayeed Hajzarian, a former deputy intelligence minister and reportedly an architect of the civil
          society concept for han. He is said to have been declared an apostate by certain prominent
          clerics. According to press accounts of the trial, the young men concerned thought they had
          been instructed to kill Hajzarian and felt no remorse over their act. In August, violence was used
          to stop two invited speakers from appearing at an authorized annual student conference in
          Khorramabad. In November, violence was used to interrupt a political meeting in Bushehr
          where, according to the press, knives, axes and brass knuckles caused injury and the need for the
          police to intervene to rescue the members of the Majlis speaking at the meeting.
          126. Based on anecdotal information, it would seem that violence by extra-legal vigilante
          groups such as the Ansari Hezbullah and authorized groups such as the Basiji has become worse
          as the political situation in the country has grown more tense. While in the past such groups
          appeared to be usually satisffied with the disrupting of a speech at a university or the showing of
          a film at a cinema, now injuries and deaths are commonplace. OEe raid on the University of
          Tehran student dormitories in July 1999 resulted on one death and the Khorramabad incident
          in 2000 also resulted in a death. Some government ministers have spoken out against such
          violence but to no avail. At the present time, the law enforcement agencies appear to be unable
          to touch such groups, presumably because of their highly placed protectors. Indeed, if recent
          confessions by former members of such groups are to be believed even in part, it would seem
          that highly placed ffigures may well have themselves resorted to manipulation of these young
          persons for political purposes.
          127. It is the Special Representative's view that resort to violence, whatever the cause, is
          highly destructive of law and order and, in general, the credibility of governance. No one can be
          above the law. Otherwise, the rule of man rather than the rule of law prevails. It is imperative
          that this deeply debilitating aspect of Iranian society be addressed by the leadership.
        
          
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          E. Drugs
          128. Drugs continue to be a security and social problem for the Government. Iran remains a
          major transit point for narcotics being transported from Pakistan and Afghanistan to markets in
          Europe and the Persian Gulf countries. OEe eLorts made by the Iranian authorities to stop this
          trafffic have been internationally recognized, but have not prevented the spread of drug abuse in
          Iran itself
          129. Iran is the world leader in drug seizures, with more than 200 tonnes of opium seized
          annually. According to United Nations statistics, 80 per cent of seizures of opium worldwide are
          carried out by the Iranian authorities. Yet, it is estimated that this represents only 20 per cent of
          the smuggled drugs that flow across the border. In 1998, the number of drug traffckers arrested
          in Iran was triple the number arrested in 1989. The question is whether these ffigures are
          indicators of the Government's success or simply reflect an increased level of drug traffficking
          activity. Notwithstanding the enormous eLort made by the Iranian authorities, expert opinion
          seems to be that real success would require signifficant regional and international cooperation.
          130. In the eastern border areas, kidnappings and extortion by armed bandits and drug
          traLickers are posing a serious threat to the life of local residents. According to the Iranian
          press, members of the youthful Basiji volunteers guarding 30 villages near the border will be
          allowed to carry arms. Since 20 March 2000, 77 shoot-outs have occurred between the Basiji
          and armed bandits and drug dealers.
          131. According to government reports, in 1999 alone, 740 drug dealers and 174 Iranian police
          offcers were killed in narcotics-related battles throughout Iran; 37 drug traffckers were
          sentenced to death and executed from September to December 1999. While acknowledging the
          magnitude of the challenge faced by the Government of Iran, the Special Representative would
          reiterate his request for more precise information on the protection of human rights within ban's
          drug interdiction policies.
          132. From the internal demand side, as stated in the Human Development Report of
          Iran, 1999 , concentration on bans and penalties, with limited provisions for addiction treatment
          has not proven particularly successful. On the basis of statistics released by offcial
          organs, 2 million Iranians are addicted to drugs, 100,000 of whom are in prison. According to
          government ffigures, about 1,000 people died last year owing to improper consumption of drugs.
          Drug injection is responsible for 67 per cent of the 1,804 registered cases of AIDS.
          133. In a step forward, the Government of Iran is now openly recognizing the extent of the
          social problem generated by drugs in the country and the great strain it is imposing upon the
          social and prison system. According to off cial statistics, over two thirds of the prison
          population is there on drug-related charges. Addiction is increasingly seen as an illness, rather
          than a crime. Opium and heroin are discussed openly in the Iranian media. If the geographic
          proximity to the major drug production centres has given Iranians easy access to narcotic drugs,
          other factors such as the youth of the population (93 per cent of the addicts are between 23
          and 44 years of age), expanding urbanization, a paucity of leisure activities and economic
          hardship are also relevant.
        
          
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          134. There continue to be unconffirmed reports of perhaps local involvement of government
          offcials in the drug trade, as well as of the use of the ffight against drug traffckers to disguise
          measures against opponents. One such allegation appeared in Aifiab-e Emrouz , on 6 November,
          quoting a statement by a member of the Majlis.
          IX. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF
          THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
          135. For correspondence between the Special Representative and the Government of Iran,
          please see annex II.
          X. CONCLUSIONS
          136. The year under review has been a duff cult one for Iranians. It has simultaneously been
          full of hope and despair.
          137. Freedom of expression certainly falls into the latter category. The suppression of the
          reformist press, the imprisonment ofjournalists, the violent confrontations with students, as well
          as their imprisonment and mistreatment, leaves many people feeling the President has lost his
          struggle to create a more tolerant society operating under the rule of law. As he has done before,
          the Special Representative urges all the branches of the Government of Iran to work together to
          achieve freedom of expression, itself a foundational human right.
          138. With the election of the Sixth Majlis, there is now one branch of the Government of Iran
          that is beginning to address the systemic discrimination faced by women in the country. Its
          initial eLorts have been met with strong opposition, which as of mid-December shows no sign of
          abating.
          139. As the Special Representative has observed before, he believes the legal system and
          particularly the judiciary to be in desperate need of repair. Only when the judiciary as a whole,
          including its related agencies, accepts as a pre-eminent value the dignity of the individual can
          there be progress in making human rights a reality for Iranians. The Special Representative
          urges the Government to expedite a thoroughgoing reform of the judiciary.
          140. In han, the status of minorities remains a neglected area of human rights. There are some
          initial glimmers of change, but there is a long way to go in terms of achieving a more
          forthcoming approach to the concerns of the minorities, both ethnic and religious. OEe Special
          Representative urges the Government to address this matter in an open manner, with the full
          involvement of the minorities themselves.
          141. The murders and disappearances of intellectuals and political dissidents is a stain on Iran
          and will remain so until all the outstanding questions are answered and the perpetrators brought
          to justice. OEe trials of those on trial for attending a conference in Berlin have the strong
          appearance of farce, except of course for those going through this unreal experience. OEe
          Special Representative urges the Government to bring this process to a quick conclusion and to
          discharge the defendants.
        
          
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          142. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, the Special Representative urges the
          Government to address those areas causing so much hardship to so many Iranians, inflation,
          unemployment and a general deterioration of the social infrastructure.
          143. Violence in Iranian politics is a primitive if not barbaric instrument which debases a
          classical Persian value, the high ideal ofjustice. Its own pride should surely move the
          Government to address this dark shadow on its reputation.
          144. In this report, the Special Representative has addressed the subject of children. He has
          noted the comments of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and trusts the Government will
          work to implement its recommendations. OEe Government also needs to address the crisis of
          urban youth disillusionment and the resulting social crisis that calls out for urgent action by
          families, as well as the Government.
          145. Finally, the Special Representative notes with regret that he continues to be unable to
          visit the Islamic Republic. He calls on the Government to return to full cooperation with the
          Commission on Human Rights in this regard.
        
          
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          Annex I
          INFORMATION ON THE SITUATION OF THE BAHA'IS
          The following is based on information received by the Special Representative.
          1. Of the three Baha'is arrested in Isfahan for their involvement with the Baha'i Institute of
          Higher Education and who received verdicts on 16 March 1999, only Ziaullah Mizapanah is still
          under house arrest. Sina Hakiman and Farad Khajeh have been released.
          2. Sonia Ahmadi, arrested on 1 May 1998, charged with taking part in Baha'i moral
          education classes and sentenced to three years' imprisonment, was released in October 2000
          aifier 30 months of imprisonment. No news has been received regarding Manuchechr Ziyai,
          arrested at the same event.
          3. Manuchehr Khulusi, a resident of Khurasan who was reportedly arrested on 9 June 1999
          and transferred to Mashhad with no clear indication as to the charges brought against him, was
          also released in May 2000. The status of the verdict against him, however, is unclear.
          4. Other Baha'is remaining in Iranian prisons include Bihnam Mithaqui and
          Kayvan Khalajabadi, arrested on 29 April 1989 and sentenced to death; Musa Talibi, arrested
          on 7 June 1994, charged with apostasy and sentenced to death but whose case is now being
          processed for commutation of sentence; Dhabihu'llah Mahrami, arrested on 6 September 1995,
          charged with apostasy and sentenced to life imprisonment, following commutation of a death
          sentence by the President; Mansur Haddadan, arrested on 29 February 1996, sentenced to
          three years in prison; Sims Dhabihi-Muquaddam, Hidayat Kashiffi Najafabadih and
          Ata'u'llah Hamid Nasirizadih, arrested in November 1997, sentenced to seven, ffive and
          four years' imprisonment respectively, following commutation of death sentences in the case of
          the ffirst two.
        
          
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          Annex II
          CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE
          AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN,
          JULY-i DECEMBER 2000
          1. On 11 August 2000, the Special Representative joined the Special Rapporteur on the
          promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in sending an
          urgent letter to the Minister for Foreign ALairs concerning the arrest of three journalists,
          Hojjatoleslam Hasan Youseffi Eshkevari, Ahmad Zeidabadi and Massoud Behnoud (the latter has
          now been released) and the closure of two newspapers, Bahar and Cheshmeh Ardebil . In the
          letter, ajoint appeal was made to the Government to ensure everyone's right to freedom of
          opinion and expression. In a letter dated 2 January 2001 the Government informed the Special
          Representative that Mr. Massoud Behnoud had been released on bail on 16 December 2000.
          2. The same signatories, joined by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or
          arbitrary executions, sent a second urgent appeal on 16 November 2000 regarding the case of
          Hojjatoleslam Hasan Youseffi Eshkevari. In the letter, they referred to information received
          regarding his conviction on charges of apostasy, charges for which he could be facing the death
          sentence, and requested information concerning the steps taken by the Government to ensure the
          right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to life and physical integrity of
          Hasan Youseffi Eshkevari.
          3. The Special Representative addressed a reminder to the Minister for Foreign
          Affairs concerning the continued detention of Abbas Amir-Entezam. In the letter,
          dated 15 August 2000, he referred to a number of requests for information and urgent
          representation sent by him on behalf of Mr. Amir-Entezam and observed that no response had
          been received from the Government. (According to unconffirmed reports Mr. Amir-Entezam has
          been released owing to his poor physical condition.)
          4. By letter dated 15 August 2000, the Special Representative drew the urgent attention of
          the Iranian authorities to the reported imprisonment of Mansour Abdali, a Kurdish lawyer.
          According to the sources, he was arrested in 1992 in the city of Piranshehr. Currently, he is
          reported to be transferred regularly between Evin and Towheed prisons. OEe Government was
          requested to conffirm the whereabouts of Mansour Abdali and to provide information as to the
          reasons for his detention, as well as assurances that he will be accorded the standard rights of
          prisoners.
          5. On the same date, the Special Representative addressed a letter to the Minister
          for Foreign Affairs concerning the alleged arrest, mistreatment and conviction of
          Behrouz Javid-Tehrani. According to the information received, he was arrested in the aifiermath
          of the student demonstration in July 1999. While in Evin and in Towheed prisons he was
          reportedly subjected to physical and psychological torture. It has been reported that
          Behrouz Javid-Tehrani had been convicted of apostasy. OEe Special Representative was
        
          
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          particularly concerned with the charges of apostasy and urged the Government to take
          appropriate steps to prevent future prosecutions for acts of religious conversion, whether or not
          they be categorized as apostasy.
          6. The above-mentioned letter also referred to the reported arrest of Ardeshir Zare-Zadeh,
          the Secretary of the Centre for the Defence of Political Prisoners, on 31 May 2000, apparently
          for his efforts to publicize the case of Behrouz Javid-Tehrani.
          7. Following reports that Babram Namazi, Khosrow Seyf and Farzine Mokhber, leaders of
          the Iranian Nation Party, were convicted and sentenced to prison for between 13 and 15 years for
          illegal political activities and anti-government propaganda” in March 2000, the Special
          Representative sent an urgent appeal on their behalf to the Minister for Foreign Affairs
          on 13 September 2000. By letter dated 4 December 2000, the Permanent Representative of
          the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Offce of the United Nations at Geneva informed the Special
          Representative that the concerned authorities had reviewed the sentence and commuted it to a
          one-year term of imprisonment. This now having been served, the three have been released.
          8. By letter dated 25 September 2000, the Permanent Representative transmitted to the
          Special Representative the following comments on paragraph 47 of his interim report to the
          General Assembly at its ffifty-ffiifih session.
          Living conditions within prisons:
          The construction of new prisons, based on modern standards and commensurate to
          existing needs, is high on the agenda of the Organization of Prisons. With the assistance
          of competent administrative organizations, especially the Organization of Management
          and Programming, eLective measures have been taken so far, inter alia the construction
          of work treatment compounds in the provinces and the building of new prison
          accommodation.”
          Prison statistics:
          Figures given for the prison population in the country, as mentioned in the report of the
          Special Rapporteur, are wholly false and unrealistic. OEe Organization of Prisons
          regularly releases prisoner statistics for the beneffit of the general public. According to
          their latest information, there are 147,000 persons detained on criminal charges or
          already convicted, of whom 90,000 are criminals involved in drug-related crimes. All in
          all, there are 110,000 persons in jail, excluding those accused persons who, pending
          charges, have been jailed on a temporary basis for two or three days.”
          9. On 15 September 2000, the Special Representative sent a letter to the Permanent
          Representative requesting his comments on the reported declarations of the head of an
          Iranian union organization concerning child labour. OEe offficial had reportedly declared
          that 300,000 Iranian adolescents and children are employed in Iran's workshops and factories
          and are poorly paid and lack social protection.
        
          
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          10. In response to the above-mentioned communication, the Permanent Representative, by
          letter to the Special Representative dated 6 December 2000, forwarded the following
          communication from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs:
          OEe Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to the laws and regulations prohibiting child
          labour. The actual legislation in the country, in particular article 79 of the Labour Code,
          provides for the total prohibition of employing anyone less than 15 years of age.
          Mr. Mahjoob in his declarations was actually referring to the adolescent workers
          (persons between 15 and 16 years of age). It should be noted that the employment of
          these workers, mainly for the purpose of training, would be possible subject to a health
          examination prior to the beginning of the employment process. Such health examination
          should be repeated yearly, and the medical examiner should endorse the suitability of the
          works assigned to the health of the adolescent worker. OEe working time for adolescent
          workers is half an hour less than the normal working time. It is also prohibited to assign
          any additional work, night work or hazardous work to the adolescent workers according
          to articles 80-83 of the Labour Code.
          As regards the wage rate, social protection and conditions of work, adolescent workers
          are covered and protected in the same way as any other workers. OEe above-mentioned
          protections are in addition to the general protection provided for all workers.
          Finally, the law and practice in the Islamic Republic of Iran concerning the prohibition
          of child labour is in conformity with the relevant international standards, and any
          violation of these regulations would be legally prosecuted by relevant offcials of the
          country.”
          11. In a letter dated 2 October 2000 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Special
          Representative referred to his previous communications regarding the disappearance of
          Pirooz Davani, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pirouz , allegedly kidnapped by security forces at
          the end of August 1998. Except for a communication from the Permanent Representative,
          dated 28 May 1999, stating that the issue was under consideration, the Special Representative
          has no record of an answer to his previous representations. On the second anniversary of
          Mr. Davani's disappearance, the Special Representative requested the Government to further the
          investigation in order to clarify his whereabouts and fate.
          12. The Special Representative joined the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture in
          sending a letter to the Government on 5 October 2000, regarding the following alleged cases of
          torture, concerning:
          Mahmudali Chehregani, a university professor and prominent member of the Azeri
          community. According to the information received, Dr. Chehregani, sentenced to
          six months' imprisonment on 18 February 2000, was subjected to torture whilst in prison.
          (According to unconfirmed reports he has now been released.)
        
          
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          Morteza Amini Moqaddam and Hamed Nazemi, accused of the murder of a battalion
          commander of the Revolutionary Guard. Amini, who may have been just 17 at the time
          of the offence, was reportedly sentenced to death on 16 December 1999, three days aifier
          the alleged incident. On 16 January 2000, it is believed he was taken to a public square
          where he stood for 30 minutes with a rope around his neck, before the victim's father
          forgave him and his sentence was commuted. Nazemi, who is understood to be 13 years
          old, was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and 74 lashes.
          Ahmad Batebi, a 21-year-old student, reportedly arrested following the student
          demonstrations of 13 July 1999. He was allegedly beaten on several occasions and
          subjected to various kinds of psychological and physical torture. It is alleged that on
          one occasion he raised the issue of his torture during detention in the court. However, it
          was not reportedly investigated by the judge.
          Akbar Mohanunadi, brother of Manuchehr Mohammadi, a leading member of the
          National Association of Students and Graduates, was reportedly tortured during his
          detention in Evin prison following his arrest aifier the July 1999 demonstrations.
          Mr. Mohammadi was allegedly sentenced to death by a Tebran Revolutionary Court, but
          his sentence was commuted on 30 April 2000 to 15 years' imprisonment.
          13. By letter dated 18 October, the Special Representative joined the Special Rapporteur on
          the independence ofjudges and lawyers in sending an urgent letter to the Minister for Foreign
          Affairs concerning the case of Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen Rahami, suspended by the Tehran
          Public Court from the practice of law. It is alleged that the Court failed to mention the legal
          basis on which it has proceeded to issue the rulings. The signatories expressed their concern in
          the context of Principles 26, 28 and 29 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and
          Iranian law.
          14. In the same letter, reference was made to the reported declarations of the ffirst deputy to
          the Head of the Judiciary, Mullah Hadi Marvi, in which he stated that Ajudge owes his
          appointment to the velayat-e faqih and does not have any independence in judgement”.
          Reference was made to Principle 1 of the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.
          15. On 16 November 2000, the Special Representative, in conjunction with the Special
          Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression,
          and on the question of torture, and the Chairman of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
          sent an urgent representation on behalf of Akbar Ganji, ajournalist. It is reported that he was
          arrested on 22 April 2000, in connection with his participation in a conference held in April 2000
          sponsored by the Heinrich B611 Institute in Berlin. According to the information received,
          on 9 November 2000, Mr. Ganji told the court that he had been beaten and tortured in
          Evin prison. OEe signatories urged the Government to take the necessary steps to investigate,
          prosecute and impose appropriate sanction on any persons guilty of torture.
          16. By letter sent on 24 November 2000, the Special Representative requested information
          about the whereabouts of Mahmood Salehi, as well as the reasons for his detention and assurance
          that he would be accorded the standard rights of prisoners, in particular access to medical
          treatment. Mr. Salehi, President of the Bakers Workers Union in the city of Saqqez, was
        
          
          E/CN.4/200 1/39
          page 35
          reportedly arrested on 28 August 2000 and sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment for his trade
          union activities. According to the information received, Mr. Salehi has problems with his
          one remaining kidney and is not receiving the necessary medical treatment.
          17. The Permanent Representative forwarded to the Special Representative the following
          information:
          By letter dated 28 October 2000, information about the serial murders case; the
          Eskhevary case; the non-application of the death penalty to minors; age of majority for
          girls; cooperation with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations; the
          participation of women in political and social aLairs; the rule of law; and the situation of
          children;
          By letter dated 12 September 2000, an article regarding the meeting of Jewish leaders
          with President Khatami;
          By letter dated 11 December 2000, several articles regarding recent developments in
          human rights education; the situation of minorities; the reform of the judiciary system;
          and activities of new political parties.
          This information has been used by the Special Representative in the preparation of this report.
        
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Tagged as:

Discrimination, Freedom of Religion, Gender Rights