Home | English | Human Rights Documents | Aadel Collection | Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rigthts on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rigthts on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

A/55/363

          
          United Nations
          O General Assembly Distr.: General
          8 September 2000
          Original: English
          Fifty-fifth session
          Item 116 (c) of the provisional agenda*
          fruman rights questions: human rights situations and
          reports of special rapporteurs and representatives
          Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
          Note by the Secretary Genera1**
          The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the members of the
          General Assembly the interim report prepared by Maurice Copithorne, Special
          Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human
          rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with Assembly resolution
          54/177 of 17 December 1999.
          * A/55/150 and Corr.l and 2.
          ** In accordance with General Assembly resolution 54/248, sect. C, para. 1, the present report is
          being submitted on 8 September 2000 so as to include as much updated information as possible.
          00-63698 (E) 091000
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission
          on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran
          Summary
          The present interim report covers the period 1 January to 15 August 2000.
          Those seven months have been tumultuous ones in the Islamic Republic of Iran
          and human rights have been a dominant feature in most of the issues. From one
          perspective, it might be said that the Government is paying a high price for the
          transparency that the Government itself introduced three years ago.
          The most dramatic development was the accelerating attack on the press, which
          by the end of the period under review had led to the suppression of the entire
          reformist press and the imprisonment of many journalists. At the time of writing,
          there were reports that some of the press would be allowed to reopen.
          The economic situation of the poor and marginalized worsened during the
          period. On a significant number of occasions, Iranians took to the streets to protest
          unemployment, inflation and inadequate municipal services, as well as more political
          issues, such as the freedom of the press, the treatment of students and other detainees
          and government inaction in general. Paramilitary vigilantes often had a role in the
          suppression of those demonstrations.
          The status of women remained largely unchanged, although there is the
          prospect that the new Majilis will tackle some of the systemic issues, such as easier
          access to divorce and the minimum age for marriage.
          The promised reform of the judiciary has not got off the ground and there are
          many indications that it is being hotly debated behind the scenes. Prisons are vastly
          overcrowded and executions remain suspiciously high. The evidence of the use of
          torture by law enforcement agencies, usually in illegal detention centres, is becoming
          a matter of public record.
          The murders and disappearances of intellectuals and political dissidents
          remains unsolved, with increasing pressure on the Government to expedite the
          prosecution of those concerned and to let the full truth come out.
          The status of ethnic and religious minorities remains largely unaddressed. The
          alienation of some minority ethnic groups by the Government's tacit policy of
          assimilation continues to grow.
          Electoral democracy continues to grow, although major institutional obstacles
          to the exercise of the plenary powers by the legislature are now coming to the fore.
          On balance, the Special Representative considers that certain tangible progress
          made to date in 2000 has been overshadowed by backsliding in some areas and
          stagnation in others.
          2
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Contents
          Paragraphs Page
          I. Introduction . 1—9 4
          II. Special Representative's activities and sources 10—11 4
          III. Freedom of expression 12—21 5
          A. Media 12—15 5
          B. Student protests 16—21 5
          IV. Status of women 22—31 6
          V. Legal subjects 32—58 7
          A. Reform of the judicial system 32—36 7
          B. Rules of fair trial and related matters 37—42 8
          C. Independent Bar Association 43—46 8
          D. Prisons 47—48 8
          E. Executions 49—52 9
          F. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 53—58 9
          VI. Murders and disappearances of intellectuals and political dissidents 59—62 10
          VII. Status of minorities 63—79 10
          A. Kurds 63—67 10
          B. Azeris 68—70 11
          C. Religious minorities: Sunnis and Baha'is 71—76 11
          D. Minorities policy 77—79 12
          VIII. Other important matters 80—101 13
          A. Economic, social and cultural rights 80—86 13
          B. Democracy 87—94 14
          C. Guardian Council 95—98 15
          D. Islamic Human Rights Commission 99—1 01 15
          IX. Correspondence with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran 102 15
          X. Conclusions 103—113 16
          Aime xc s
          I. Denial of fair trial and related rights 18
          II. Information on the situation of the Baha'is 20
          III. Correspondence between the Special Representative and the Government of the Islamic
          Republic of Iran, 1 January-i July 2000 21
          3
        
          
          AJ55/363
          I. Introduction
          1. The first seven months of 2000 have been
          tumultuous ones in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
          Human rights have been in the forefront, indeed
          frequently the core issue involved in events.
          2. The most dramatic and far-reaching event was the
          accelerating attack on the freedom of press, which led
          to the virtual closing down of the entire reformist
          press. That event was especially significant because the
          establishment of a culture of open discussion centring
          on a free press had been at the heart of the President's
          declared objective of creating a civil society.
          3. A number of economic, social and political
          conditions underlie many of the recent developments in
          the country. Their nature is perhaps most dramatically
          reflected in the surge of efforts by Iranians to migrate.
          The brain drain is serious. According to press reports,
          80 per cent of the Iranian students who have competed
          in international science Olympiads in the last three
          years are now studying outside the country Some
          150,000 Iranian doctors and engineers now live in the
          United States. One government official attributed those
          developments mostly to the lack of security at the
          social level and the lack of attention to the most basic
          rights of those elites. More generally, many foreign
          embassies in Tehran report a sharp increase in
          immigration enquiries. The press reports that desperate
          Iranians are turning up as illegal immigrants in many
          parts of the world.
          4. Many of the social problems in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran, most of which have human rights
          dimensions, can be traced to the economic crisis,
          particularly in terms of rising unemployment and still
          rampant inflation. The poor and the marginalized are
          bearing the brunt of a mismanaged economy
          5. The governance structure in Iran is still a major
          cause of the problems facing society rather than a
          mechanism for their solution. Wasteful competition
          between the branches of government and the
          incoherence and incompetence that characterizes much
          of the bureaucracy appear to be standing in the way of
          movement towards a culture of human rights.
          Personalities and factions have not yet ceded much
          ground to the rule of law despite earlier promises of
          comprehensive reform. So much needs to be done and
          yet so little is being achieved, particularly in
          addressing the systemic obstacles to progress.
          6. Equality rights have seen little progress. Women
          and minorities remain seriously disadvantaged in law
          and in practice. Neither the executive nor the
          legislature have taken leadership roles in addressing
          the legal as well as the social obstacles, although there
          are early signs of change on the part of the new Majilis,
          at least concerning women.
          7. In the present report, the Special Representative
          has attempted once again to capture what he believes to
          be the high points and the low ones in the effort
          to advance the cause of human rights in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran.
          8. Overall, the Special Representative is reluctantly
          compelled by the record to state that in his view, such
          progress as there has been to date in 2000 has been
          overshadowed by backsliding in some cases and
          stagnation in others.
          9. Finally, the Special Representative wishes to
          note, as he has done many times in the past, that the
          Islamic Republic of Iran is a complex, dynamic society
          The pace of development, some of it substantive, has
          accelerated in recent months. The Special
          Representative believes that the country is changing
          and will continue to change. Significant improvements
          in the enjoyment of human rights are certainly not out
          of question, and indeed that climate might change
          markedly between the time the present report is being
          finalized in mid-August 2000 and the time the debate
          on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic
          of Iran gets under way in the Third Committee.
          II. Special Representative's activities
          and sources
          10. In seeking to discharge his mandate, the Special
          Representative has used many sources of information,
          including the Government of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran, other Governments, individuals, non-
          governmental organizations and the Iranian and
          international media.
          11. During the period under review, the Special
          Representative received written communications from
          the following non-governmental organizations
          concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran: Alliance for
          Defense of Human Rights in Iran; Amnesty
          International; Baha' i International Community;
          Committee for Defence of Liberty in Iran; Association
          4
        
          
          A/55 63
          for IIe Defence of Political Prisoners in han;
          Committee to Protect Journalists; Constitutionalist
          Movement of Iran; Democratic Party of Iranian
          Kurdistan; Human Rights Watch; International PEN
          American Center; International PEN Writers in Prison
          Committee; Iranian Worker Leifi Unity; National
          Council of Resistance of Iran; Organization for
          Defending Victims of Violence; Reporters sans
          Fronti&es; Social Research; and IIe Society for IIe
          Defence of Political Prisoners in Iran.
          if. Freedom of expression
          A. Media
          12. In IIe period under review, IIe closing down of
          IIe reformist press has perhaps been IIe biggest story
          in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran itself; as well as IIe
          most evident mass suppression of a human right. At IIe
          time of preparation of IIe present report, some 22
          newspapers and journals have been closed, and at least
          an equal number of publishers and writers have been
          convicted, jafied or fmed, or served wiII a summons by
          one of IIe various tribunals now exercising jurisdiction
          over IIe press. Six months ago, auIIority over IIe press
          was by legislation, in IIe hands of IIe press court,
          alIIough oIIer tribunals, including notably IIe
          Revolutionary Courts and IIe Special Clerical Courts,
          were claiming an inherent jurisdiction and getting away
          wiII it.
          13. In March 2000, aifier IIe elections for IIe sixII
          Majilis, IIe lame duck ffiifih Majfiis passed press law
          amendments which gave IIe various tribunals,
          including IIe Press Court, sweeping jurisdiction and
          extraordinary procedural ffleedom that did away wiII
          even IIe limited guarantees of fair trial provided for in
          IIe old press law. The result is a truly draconian regime
          that has led to IIe silencing of IIe reformist press. In a
          matter of a few days in late Aprfi 2000, 14 journals
          were closed by order of IIe judiciary, apparently
          wiIIout hearings. The press court seems to have
          become simply anoIIer control agency dedicated to IIe
          suppression of fflee expression raIIer than IIe
          protection of that right. It now sometimes acts even in
          IIe absence of complaints. One journal noted that in
          principle what people expect is IIat IIe accused first be
          summoned to IIe court, charged wiII specific crimes,
          and defended by a lawyer, and IIat IIe court would
          only IIen deliver its verdict
          14. In August 2000, IIe new sixII Majfiis made an
          eLort to undo IIe damage by preparing a number of
          amendments, but IIese were taken oL IIe Majfiis
          agenda following an apparently unprecedented
          intervention by IIe Supreme Leader. A few Majilis
          deputies objected, and IIe chair of IIe Majfiis Culture
          Commission tendered his resignation, declaring it was
          his religious duty to defend IIe Majfiis. Extrajudicial
          groups of demonstrators camped outside IIe Majfiis in
          an apparent attempt at intimidation, and IIe state
          broadcaster, Iran Broadcasting, a noted proponent of
          IIe conservative view, came under fire for spreading
          negative propaganda, which led to a brawl on IIe floor
          of IIe Majfiis.
          15. There does seem to be a feeling in some quarters
          that IIe pendulum may have swung too far, and IIere is
          evidence IIat some of IIe closed papers wfil be allowed
          to reopen. In sum, things may be changing for IIe
          better.
          B. Student protests
          16. In his report to IIe General Assembly a year ago
          (see A/54/365, paras. 14-20) IIe Special Representative
          reported on IIe student demonstrations of July 1999 in
          Tehran and Tabriz. It was clear IIat extensive human
          rights violations had taken place at IIe University of
          Tehran dormitories in IIe beatings of students by
          Iranian security forces and by paramfiitaries. Further
          human rights violations took place in IIe arrest of
          students and non-students in IIe ensuing street
          demonstrations. In his report to IIe Commission on
          Human Rights at its fifty-sixII session
          (E/CN.4/2000/35), IIe Special Representative reported
          on IIe treatment of IIe arrested students as well as
          members of IIe Iran Nation Party. Many facets of IIeir
          detention were in clear violation of international
          standards. Four students were sentenced to death, but
          IIeir sentences were subsequently commuted to various
          terms of imprisonment About two thirds of IIe 1,500
          or so students initially detained seem to have been
          released. Some of IIose have now testiffied to IIe harsh
          treatment IIey received while in detention. One of IIe
          students has been convicted of apostasy, about which
          IIe Special Representative has made representations to
          IIe Government To IIe Special Representative's
          knowledge, IIere is still no fmal accounting of all
          persons arrested in connection wiII IIe July 1999
          demonstrations.
          5
        
          
          A/5&363
          17. In IIe case of IIose arrested in connection wiII
          similar demonstrations in Tabriz, 21 persons, of whom
          12 were students, were sentenced to jafi terms ranging
          fflom three months to nine years. Reportedly as a result
          of IIe intervention of IIe Speaker of IIe Majilis, IIe
          implementation of IIe sentences has been postponed.
          The Speaker has said IIat IIe Majilis will be holding an
          inquiry into IIe Tabriz incident.
          18. The trial of IIose who provoked IIe
          demonstrations, that is, IIe instigators of IIe attack on
          IIe University of Tehran dormitories, was much slower
          in coming. Charges were laid in February 2000 against
          20 policemen and senior offcers. A detafied account of
          IIe conduct of IIe police and of IIe yet unnamed and
          uncharged paramfiitaries came out in IIe trial. The
          judge found that IIe incident had taken place on IIe
          whole as charged by IIe students and IIat 34 of IIem
          should be compensated fflom state funds but he IIen
          discharged all but two of IIe accused. That led to an
          outcry fflom IIe students, who according to IIe press
          have launched an appeal. There have now been calls
          for IIe Majilis to enact tougher controls on IIe police
          in dealing wiII academic institutions.
          19. Meanwhile, IIe first anniversary of IIe July 1999
          demonstrations prompted demonstrations in Tehran and
          in Tabriz and IIe arrest of more students in boII cities.
          In April and again in June 2000, IIere were arrests of
          students.
          20. A full accounting for IIe July 1999 raid on IIe
          student dormitories, which had been promised by
          various leaders, remains outstanding. The head of IIe
          judiciary repeated that commitment in IIe days aifier
          IIe verdict in IIe trial of IIe police involved in IIe raid.
          21. There is also an accounting to be made to what
          appear to be IIe well-founded and widespread
          allegations of IIe torture of student detainees and of IIe
          absence of a fair trial for IIose formally charged before
          IIe Revolutionary Court (see paras. 53-56 below).
          1V Status of women
          22. The situation of women in IIe Islamic Republic
          of Iran has not noticeably changed in IIe period under
          review. In fact, media attention appears to have
          signifficantly diminished, due perhaps in part to IIe
          suppression of IIe reformist press during IIe period.
          23. In IIe February 2000 Majfiis elections, 424
          women were candidates. A number of IIem were
          reported in IIe press as calling for action, making such
          statements as SOur society and women must be ffleed
          fflom cultural and social burdens, such as imposed
          marriages and inequalities in Islamic laws” and 9Jntil
          now, women's rights and sensitivities have been
          derided in IIe Islamic Republic of Iran and it is now
          our role and obligation to restore IIose rights”. Nine
          women were elected, one of whom was subsequently
          elected to IIe six-member Majilis Managing
          Committee.
          24. According to press accounts, in July 2000 Tehran
          City Council received a report declaring that
          prostitution and drug abuse were widespread among
          IIe youII of Tehran. The average age of prostitutes had
          fallen fflom 27 to 20 a few years ago. Some 90 per cent
          of IIe girls who ran away fflom home fell into
          prostitution. The principal cause of prostitution was
          said to be economic hardship and social alienation.
          25. There continue to be calls for more attention to
          IIe condition of women through, for example, IIe
          election of women to one third of IIe Majilis seats and
          IIe creation of special institutions as distinct fflom
          advisory boards to promote women's aLairs. Frequent
          mention is made of IIe access that women now have to
          education up to IIe highest level. Less fflequently,
          mention is made of IIe fact that many women cannot
          fmd employment, usually due to patriarchal attitudes in
          IIe famfiy and workplace. Women currently make up
          just 14 per cent of IIe workforce.
          26. During IIe period under review, IIe first woman
          was appointed as IIe governor of a district; afatwa was
          issued authorizing women to lead members of IIe same
          sex in prayers.
          27. Attention is beginning to be paid in IIe Islamic
          Republic of Iran to IIe deleterious eLect of IIe chador.
          It was recently targeted by IIe President of a Women's
          University as IIe cause of increasing osteoporosis
          among women.
          28. In January and again in February 2000, IIere
          were large demonstrations by students of IIe pfiot
          programme, women-only Fatimeh Medical University,
          demanding IIe dismissal of IIe Chancellor and IIe
          Board and an improvement in academic standards.
          29. Situations sometimes come to IIe attention of IIe
          Special Representative which, despite IIeir probable
          6
        
          
          AJ55/363
          infrequency, do in his view call out for urgent action by
          the Government, such as a recent story in Resalat on 4
          July 2000 reporting the statement by an adviser to the
          Ministry of Health that consent for medical treatment
          given by a single mother, even for emergency surgery,
          does not meet the requirements of Iranian law.
          Reportedly, 15 per cent of Iranian households are now
          headed by a mother as a single parent. The Special
          Representative urges the Government to respond to this
          situation promptly in order to head off any denials of
          access to health care.
          30. On the topic of violence against women, the
          Human Development Report of Iran, 1999, declares
          that an age-old culture of male domination, coercion
          and violence against women, generally regarded as
          chastisement, is mostly taken for granted by society.
          The existence of discriminatory laws and the ambiguity
          of other laws compound that attitude and make women
          vulnerable to violence, particularly domestic violence.
          It should therefore come as no surprise that apart from
          a few measures applied in extreme cases and some
          reasonably effective programmes designed to identify
          the cultural, social and legal roots of violence against
          women, no notable action has been taken to change
          prevailing attitudes or reform the pertinent laws and
          regulations.
          31. That reform of some of the most egregious
          examples of discrimination is politically conceivable
          came in mid-August 2000, when the Majilis voted by
          more than a two-thirds majority to consider a bill that,
          in the absence of a court order, would likely raise the
          age of marriage to 14 for girls and 17 for boys.
          According to the press, in May 2000 an adviser on
          women's affairs had said that there were 52,000
          married girl students between the ages of 10 and 14
          and 617,000 between 15 and 19. According to the same
          report, most married girls drop out of school early in
          their marriage.
          V. Legal subjects
          A. Reform of the judicial system
          32. In his report to the Commission on Human Rights
          (see E/CN.4/2000/35, para. 37), the Special
          Representative noted the candid comments of the new
          head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, on the
          condition of the Iranian judicial system. His call for
          reform seemed to be widely welcomed. That theme has
          been reiterated on a number of occasions in the period
          under review. However, there have been few concrete
          proposals for substantive change.
          33. In June 2000, Ayatollah Shahroudi was quoted as
          saying that judicial development does not mean
          accepting models and findings of judicial systems in
          the world today that are labelled as human rights. At
          the end of July 2000, he declared that the judiciary
          system needed to address poverty, discrimination and
          corruption in the country.
          34. One of the problems faced by the Iranian judicial
          system in recent years has been the negative
          consequences of a merging of the procuracy into the
          judiciary It was aimounced in June 2000 that a
          separate procuracy would be re-established as of March
          2001. At a meeting in June 2000 of the Tehran Justice
          Department, the head of the Department reportedly
          called for a new criminal code covering all aspects of
          the criminal law system. After that, the structure of
          public and revolutionary courts would have to be
          revisited.
          35. There remain shadows over the process of reform,
          one of them being the role of extrajudicial groups. In
          December 1999, Ayatollah Shahroudi was quoted in the
          Iranian press as declaring that the Basiji had legal
          authority to prevent crimes and preserve the security of
          the country Such a legitimation of a group that has
          been in the forefront of the violent suppression of
          peaceful public demonstrations can only run counter to
          the evolution of the rule of law. Sooner or later, in the
          name of civil society the Islamic Republic of Iran will
          have to address the proliferation of tribunals and law
          enforcement agencies that often compete in zealotry
          and provide a labyrinth for private citizens to traverse
          in their daily lives. The Government at least is aware of
          the problem. The Minister of the Interior said recently
          that no one has the right to hold a demonstration
          without a permit, even in support of religion or
          religious beliefs.
          36. The Special Representative wishes to recall
          General Assembly resolution 54/1 63 on human rights
          in the administration of justice, in which the Assembly
          urges a number of relevant measures upon
          Governments.
          7
        
          
          AJ55/363
          B. Rules of fair trial and related matters
          37. In his report to the Commission on Human Rights
          (see E/CN.4/2000/35, paras. 34 and 35) the Special
          Representative set out his understanding of the
          elements of a fair trial. By all accounts, these rules
          continue to be ignored by the judiciary in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran.
          38. One of the prominent cases that came to light
          during the period under review was the treatment by
          the courts of the students and others arrested in
          connection with the demonstration of 5 July 1999.
          Quite apart from their treatment in pre-trial detention,
          they were tried in a closed court without benefit of
          counsel.
          39. The trial of Jews and Muslims in Shiraz came to a
          head in the period under review, with the conviction of
          12 persons, who received sentences from 2 to 13 years,
          and the acquittal of 5 others. There were some
          extraordinary twists in this prolonged and agonizing
          process for the Jewish accused and their families. It is
          quite clear that despite the statements of Iranian
          representatives to the contrary and indeed the lively
          defence mounted by one of the defence counsel parties,
          those trials were in no way fair. A fuller description of
          the deficiencies is set out in annex I.
          40. There was also the case of the police general
          sentenced to eight months in jail for misconduct in the
          treatment of the arrested Tehran mayor and deputy
          mayors several years ago. The convicted general has at
          last report not yet seen the inside of a jail even though
          the findings of the military court were upheld on
          appeal.
          41. Illegal detentions and persons simply gone
          missing in the justice system have begun to attract
          public attention. The Islamic Human Rights
          Commission is now publicizing its so far unsuccessful
          efforts to trace such persons.
          42. In a freedom of the press case reported in the
          press in June 2000, a newspaper was suspended prior to
          a court hearing on the grounds that publishing the
          objections of two detained journalists about the food
          and hygiene conditions in jail, even though it was
          followed by the printing of a denial by officials, was a
          basis for closing down the newspaper for disparaging
          Islam and the religious elements of the Islamic
          revolution.
          C. Independent Bar Association
          43. Not much has been heard from the Independent
          Bar Association (IBA) in the period under review
          despite the turmoil regarding freedom of press and the
          conduct of the courts, particularly with regard to the
          rights of fair trial.
          44. The Special Representative notes that the Union
          of Iranian Journalists met with the Speaker of the
          Majilis to express its concern about the treatment of
          journalists by the courts, and he wonders why IBA
          apparently did not take similar action over the
          detention of three of its members, Mehrangiz Kar,
          Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen Rohami. The detention of
          lawyers, even for a limited period, is clearly an act of
          intimidation towards both the lawyers concerned and
          the bar as a whole. The Special Representative recalls
          that several years ago, after its first Council election,
          IBA expressed itself clearly and publicly on the matter
          of law reform, and wonders why it has been apparently
          silent on the important current issue of the detention of
          lawyers.
          45. The Special Representative has recently had
          brought to his attention an extract from an issue of the
          OLicial Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran (No.
          15985 of 26 November 1998), which records Majilis
          approval of a provision giving the judiciary the power
          to confirm the competency of law graduates to receive
          a license as a lawyer. As the bar cannot be beholden to
          the judiciary, that provision clearly offends
          international standards for the independence of the bar,
          as well as the reputation of the 90-year-old Iranian
          institution.
          46. Finally, the Special Representative notes
          Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/42, in
          which the Commission noted the various international
          instruments relevant to the independence of the bar.
          D. Prisons
          47. The Iranian prison system is under severe strain.
          According to press reports of statements in the period
          under review by the Director General and Deputy
          Director General of the Prisons Organization, as well
          as a former Deputy Prosecutor General, some 185,000
          persons are currently in jail, perhaps two thirds of them
          for drug-related offences, and prison camps are being
          opened at the rate of five a year. In July 2000, an
          8
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Iranian newspaper was reported as saying that a prison
          population of 2.5 per 1,000 was a catastrophe for a
          society which is dedicated to its values.
          48. The Special Representative notes that apart from
          building new prisons, the only other measure is to
          reduce the intake of prisoners. One move to that end is
          impending legislation to place women and children on
          probation rather than having them serve time in jail.
          E. Executions
          49. Executions continued at a reportedly high rate in
          the period under review. According to information
          received by the Special Representative based on press
          reports, some 130 executions occurred from January to
          the end of July 2000, including the execution of a
          woman in front of her two children. Eleven executions
          were held in public. In three other cases, individuals
          sentenced to death were pardoned ifiom execution by
          the family of the victim at the execution site. The
          Special Representative finds it hopeful that in March
          2000, a Ministry of Justice spokesman was quoted as
          saying that some of the hangings envisaged in Iranian
          laws were not necessary from a religious point of view
          and the system could replace them with other
          sentences.
          50. The Special Representative notes that a public
          debate about the death penalty got under way in 1999
          before strong official opposition extinguished it. In
          August 2000, the Supreme Court confirmed the
          sentence of three and a half years in prison for the
          editor-in-chief who had published the story that had set
          off the debate. He was convicted of hurting Islam”.
          51. The Special Representative notes that the
          Commission on Human Rights has regularly called
          upon States in which the death penalty has not been
          abolished to comply with their obligations in this
          regard under the International Covenant on Civil and
          Political Rights, and to keep in mind the safeguards
          and guarantees set out in certain Commission on
          Human Rights resolutions, such as Commission
          resolution 2000/31.
          52. The Special Representative wishes to reiterate
          that the statistics mentioned above are drawn from
          press accounts, with all the margin of error that
          implies. He calls upon the Government once again to
          make official figures publicly available.
          F. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or
          degrading treatment or punishment
          Torture
          53. That torture continues in the Islamic Republic of
          Iran and in its most primitive form was
          confirmed in the period under review by the personal
          testimony of students and others arrested in the
          aifiermath of the July 1999 demonstrations and
          subsequently released, or on the basis of letters from
          convicted students apparently smuggled out of prison,
          some of which have been published in the Iranian
          press. They make shocking reading. The Special
          Representative has sent to the Government the details
          of some of the allegations, with a request for
          comments. The allegations focus mostly on treatment
          in Towheed prison, an institution reportedly belonging
          to the so-called Joint Committee Against Subversion,
          that is to say, it is outside the official prisons
          organization. There have been calls for the head of the
          judiciary to address seriously the issue of torture,
          particularly in such institutions of doubtful legitimacy
          as Towheed. One of the officials of the prison, when
          questioned, reportedly told a prisoner that torture was
          carried out in the prison on the verdict of the judge and
          the court, and was therefore legal.
          54. It has now been several years since it began to be
          acknowledged that torture did exist in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran, notwithstanding article 38 of the
          Constitution. In 1999, what is believed to have been
          the first indictment for torture was brought against a
          police general and 10 colleagues. All were acquitted of
          torture but convicted of mistreatment of prisoners.
          55. No information has come to the Special
          Representative's attention suggesting the Government
          is as yet addressing this blight on the international
          reputation of the country and the Government. The
          Special Representative notes Commission on Human
          Rights resolution 2000/43 on the subject of torture; in
          which, among many provisions, the Commission calls
          upon all Governments to implement fully the
          prohibition of torture, to address the need for
          investigation and documentation as set out in the
          principles annexed to the resolution, and to address the
          issue of impunity for those responsible.
          56. The Special Representative urges the Government
          to comply in full with the above-mentioned
          Commission resolution.
          9
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Stoning and amputation
          57. Stoning, surely a barbaric punishment, appears
          finally to be declining in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
          Only one such sentence came to the attention of the
          Special Representative in the period under review and
          that was apparently overturned on review. In March
          2000, the press quoted the Ministry of Justice
          spokesperson as stating that stoning may not be in the
          country's interest, and that the head of the judiciary
          believes that it should avoid acts which could insult
          and taint the country's image.
          58. Amputations appear to continue unabated.
          59. One of several issues that appears to have
          severely damaged confidence in public security and in
          the Government as well has been the string of murders
          and disappearances of intellectuals and dissident
          political figures during about three months in late 1 998
          and early 1 999, which became known as the chain or
          serial murders, the implication being that they were all
          related. By some reports, the chain stretches much
          further back, as an explanation of earlier suspicious
          events, such as the murder of three Christian clergy in
          1994. Some suggest that it also covers mysterious
          deaths and incidents that have occurred since early
          1999, including most recently the murder of the doctor
          known as the father of vasectomy in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran.
          60. The central very tragic cases in this matter, the
          murders of Daryoush and Parvaneh Forouhar, were
          discussed in the Special Representative's last report to
          the General Assembly (see A/54/365, paras. 39-43). By
          all accounts, their memory remains very much alive for
          many Iranians inside and out of the country.
          61. The investigation of these cases has been
          appallingly slow. At one time, 10 persons were
          arrested, 9 of whom were subsequently released on
          bail. It seems that the cases have not been pursued. The
          sixth Majilis has set up its own Commission to look
          into the murders. Another investigation is under way,
          reportedly under the direct management of the
          President and the head of the judiciary. Since the
          Special Representative's last report on the subject,
          some fairly certain details as well as much speculation
          has been placed in public debate. Yet, some 20 months
          aifier these horrendous acts took place, no clear
          progress has been made in bringing the perpetrators or
          their masterminds to justice.
          62. In March 2000, Saeed Hajjarian, a newspaper
          editor, adviser to the President and Tehran City
          Councillor, escaped an assassination attempt that was
          subsequently linked to other recent murders. In May
          2000, a revolutionary court sentenced the man alleged
          to have shot Hajjarian to 15 years and his accomplices
          to shorter sentences. This event was accompanied by
          more allegations of torture, and complaints concerning
          the court's successful efforts to prevent public
          exposure of the masterminds.
          A. Kurds
          63. Iranian Kurds have traditionally lived in the
          north-west of the country. They define turdistan” as
          including all or parts of the provinces of Kermanshah,
          lyllam, West Azerberijan and Kurdistan proper. The
          Kurdish population in this area is said to be in the order
          of eight million, with perhaps another two million in
          other provinces, such as Khorasan, where Kurds had
          been forcibly resettled in earlier centuries.
          64. The Kurdish language is an autonomous language
          of the Indo-European group. The vast majority of the
          Kurds are Muslims, about 75 per cent Sunni and 25 per
          cent Shiite.
          65. There has been a long history of tension between
          the Iranian Kurds and Tehran. Relations since the
          Islamic Revolution have been marked by one short
          period of unsuccessful negotiations in 1979-1980.
          Scholars lay blame for the failure on both sides. They
          note the areas of mixed ethnicity that the Kurds
          included in their claim, as well as the fact that there
          was a reference to the various ethnic minorities in the
          draft constitution, and that there was subsequently a
          proposal for a clause protecting Sunni religious
          practices.
          66. Following the breakdown of negotiations,
          prolonged periods of violence ensued both in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran and abroad. Guerrilla warfare
          has continued in spurts, with civilian Kurds suffering
          the most in terms of direct casualties as well as
          VI. Murders and disappearances of
          intellectuals and political dissidents vii. Status of minorities
          10
        
          
          AJ55/363
          economic dislocation. While military action in
          Kurdistan appears to be at a low ebb at present,
          violence continues on the part of both the law
          enforcement agencies and armed Kurdish activists.
          67. Iranian Kurdistan is by all accounts a fertile area
          and should be prosperous. In fact, according to the
          Human Development Report of Iran, 1999, the four
          provinces mentioned rank in the lower half of the
          provincial scale by the human development index; two
          of them, West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, being among
          the very lowest. This now seems to be recognized by
          the Government. In the course of a recent visit to
          Kurdistan, the President referred to widespread poverty
          and unemployment, and declared that more funds
          would be made available for development in the area.
          The Special Representative has been informed that the
          primary demand of the Kurdish people is to be
          recognized as Kurds, which implies full recognition of
          their cultural rights, including the registration of
          Kurdish names. A major complaint is over the
          obstacles in the way of Sunni places of worship.
          B. Azeris
          68. While reliable demographic statistics are hard to
          come by in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it seems that
          the Azeris are the largest minority in the country, with
          estimates of their numbers reaching as high as 25 per
          cent of the 60 million total population. The Azeri
          language belongs to the Turkic language group and is
          thus unrelated to Farsi. In the Islamic Republic of Iran,
          the Azeris have traditionally lived in the north-west,
          where in many places they mixed with Kurds and
          Armenians. That relationship would seem to have been
          traditionally tempestuous. Today, Azeris are also found
          in most other parts of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
          with reportedly as many as a million in Tehran. Many
          Azeris have been absorbed into mainstream Persian
          society The Azeris are principally Shiite. The Qajar
          dynasty of Iran was of Azeri stock, as indeed are
          reportedly many of today's Iranian elites.
          69. For some time, there has been a demand by some
          Azeris for greater cultural autonomy. They speak of a
          national and cultural identity. The principal complaint
          against Tehran is that Azeris have been denied cultural
          recognition, in particular the exercise of basic cultural
          rights as set out in article 26 of the International
          Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
          70. The arrest of Mahmudali Chehregani, a lecturer at
          the University of Tabriz and a prominent Azeri activist,
          has drawn attention to the Azeri cause. Dr. Chehregani
          has previously demanded for the community the
          cultural autonomy rights provided for in article 15 of
          the Constitution. He had been elected to the fifth
          Majilis but had been disqualified, reportedly because of
          his campaign for the exercise of cultural rights by the
          Azeris. Following a large demonstration in April 1996,
          during which 600 persons were reportedly detained, Dr.
          Chehregani and some followers were arrested. It is
          alleged that Dr. Chehregani's subsequent arrest in
          December 1999 was to prevent him from being
          nominated for the sixth Majilis. The Special
          Representative has made enquiries of the Government
          in this matter.
          C. Religious minorities: Sunnis and
          Baha'is
          Sunnis
          71. The Special Representative has written in the past
          of the sense of injustice felt by many Sunnis in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran over treatment they view as
          discriminatory. One of the principle complaints has
          been the official and unofficial obstacles put in the way
          of building or rebuilding Sunni mosques. The example
          most often raised is Tehran itself, where a reported one
          million Sunnis have no mosque of their own. This
          matter was raised in the Majilis in June 1999; there is
          no information as to what if any reply was made by the
          Government. The Special Representative has also
          received several complaints about transmigration
          policies carried out with the acquiescence of the
          Government, under which large number of Shiites are
          settled in predominantly Sunni areas of the country
          with the apparent objective of reducing the etlmic
          Sunnis to a minority in their homelands.
          Baha'is
          72. The 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. The Baha'i community
          continues to experience discrimination in areas of, inter
          alia, education, employment, travel, housing and the
          enjoyment of cultural activities.
          11
        
          
          AJ55/363
          73. Eleven Baha'is are imprisoned in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran, four of whom are subj ect to the death
          sentence (see annex II). The Special Representative
          received a letter dated 25 February 2000 from the
          Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stating
          that the spokesmen of the judiciary had denied
          confirmation of the death sentences against Hidayat
          Kashifi Najafabadi and Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam. The
          Special Representative has received conflicting
          information as to the current status of this matter.
          74. Acts of intimidation carried out in order to
          prevent Baha'is from participating in religious
          gatherings or educational activities have also been
          reported. According to information reaching the
          Special Representative, there seems to have been an
          increase in the number of short-term arrests and
          OEuspended sentences”, to be applied only if the
          accused participate again in those gatherings.
          75. A welcome development was the elimination of
          questions regarding the religion of spouses at the time
          of the registration of a marriage. According to
          information submitted by the Permanent
          Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the
          United Nations Office at Geneva, the Registration
          Department has issued a circular in this regard. This
          opens up the possibility of registering Baha'i
          marriages, a development which will have positive
          implications for the rights of Baha'i women and
          children, who have until now been exposed to charges
          of prostitution and denied the right to inherit. There is
          now the prospect that university entrance will be the
          next sector in which religious discrimination of this
          nature will be removed.
          76. The Special Representative wishes to reiterate his
          appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic to
          implement his outstanding recommendations (see
          A/53/423, para. 45) as well as those of the Special
          Rapporteur on religious intolerance (see
          E/CN.4/1 996/95/Add.2).
          D. Minorities policy
          77. The basic international statement of the rights of
          a minority is contained in article 27 of the International
          Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which
          establishes the rights of ethnic, religious linguistic
          minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and
          practice their own religion or to use their own language
          (for a discussion of the term minority”, see
          E/CN.4/1998/59, paras. 32-35). In addition, in its
          general comments on the guarantee of equality in
          article 26 of the Covenant, the Human Rights
          Committee has stated that in a State in which the
          general conditions of a certain part of the population
          prevent or impair their enjoyment of human rights, that
          State should take specific action to correct those
          conditions. Thus, a State is enjoined to protect certain
          rights and to assist disadvantaged groups in certain
          circumstances. A proactive policy is clearly required to
          discharge those international responsibilities. In the
          same context, certain international best practices are
          emerging, such as the creation of an ombudsman to
          monitor the protection of minority rights (for a more
          detailed discussion of international and Iranian norms,
          see E/CN.4/1999/32, annex II).
          78. In the Special Representative's view, the
          articulation of a minorities policy in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran is long overdue. Without going over
          the uneasy and sometimes violent relationships that
          most minorities have had with the central Government
          dating from the nineteenth century, it is self-evident
          today that certain minorities are among the poorest and
          most disadvantaged peoples in the country. It is also
          clear that most minorities are not enjoying the rights
          set out in article 27 of the International Covenant on
          Civil and Political Rights. The history of such
          treatment can perhaps be partly attributed to strategic
          circumstances but that cannot today stand as a
          justification for disregarding the rights clearly
          articulated in article 27 of the Covenant, as well as
          indeed to a limited extent in the Iranian Constitution
          itself
          79. There is talk in the Islamic Republic of Iran today
          of the rights of citizenship. It was following a decision
          of the Expediency Council to endorse such a concept
          that the Registration Department abolished the
          requirement for the declaration on religion on
          application to register a marriage. The concept was
          described in a letter from the Permanent Mission of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations as
          applying especially” to people whose religions are not
          among the religions recognized by the Constitution.
          This would, therefore, seem to apply primarily to the
          Baha'is. As a concept however, the rights of citizenship
          should be equally applicable to groups seeking to
          benefit from provisions of the Constitution, such as
          12
        
          
          AJ55/363
          article 15 on the right to the use of regional and tribal
          languages.
          VIII. Other important matters
          A. Economic, social and cultural rights
          Economic conditions of workers
          80. A number of conditions, particularly those
          affecting workers, have grown sharply worse recently.
          The combination of stagnation in some industrial
          sectors, the continuing rise in inflation and the growing
          unemployment rate have all aggravated the condition
          of workers. According to a press report, a senior
          official of the Health Ministry stated that 1 2 million
          persons now live below the poverty line and 20 per
          cent of the population controls 80 per cent of the
          wealth, and that by the end of 2010 another 15 million
          persons will have migrated from the countryside to the
          cities.
          81. A senior official in the Labour Ministry informed
          the press in July 2000 that 720,000 workers are
          entering the job market aimually, 2,800,000 are
          currently looking for work and the current
          unemployment rate is 16.2 per cent. In the first two
          months of 2000, only 20,000 of the required 80,000
          new jobs were generated.
          82. Research brought to the attention of the Special
          Representative records 244 cases of labour unrest in
          the period May 1999 to April 2000; 46 per cent of
          those cases were protests about unpaid wages, in some
          cases for as long as 24 months, while the second most
          frequent reason for labour unrest was concern for job
          security. It is reported that over 400 factories have been
          closed in recent years and that the textile sector alone
          is facing the loss of 500,000 jobs, the result primarily
          of the lack of reinvestment in an ageing industry.
          83. Certain government measures are said to be
          aggravating the suffering of workers, including
          changes in eligibility for assistance by the social
          service organization and hotly debated legislation now
          in effect which exempts from the application of the
          Labour Act all workshops and businesses with five
          employees or less. The prospect of this legislation
          being adopted was the subject of widespread worker
          demonstrations over the past 18 months and was
          opposed by the Ministry of Labour. It is said to affect
          2.8 million workers.
          84. The deteriorating situation of Iranian workers is
          receiving growing recognition in the Iranian press and
          elsewhere. The Human Development Report of Iran,
          1999, discusses the conditions, including government
          policies, that have led to the rising rate of
          unemployment. It calls for policies to prevent further
          deterioration in people's living standards. However,
          nothing has come to the attention of the Special
          Representative suggesting that the Government itself
          attaches priority to tackling the conditions of workers
          other than the urgent attention that is being called for
          by all sides to address the economic problems facing
          the country. The human rights of workers are at stake.
          Social conditions
          85. The period under review has been marked by
          significant social unrest. In June 2000, the press carried
          a report that some 4,000 women burned tyres and
          blocked a road in Islamshahr to protest poor living
          conditions, including lack of water, gas and electricity.
          In early July 2000, there were press reports of violent
          demonstrations in Abadan, objecting to the salinity of
          local drinking water. The Special Representative has
          received reports of rallies that occasionally turned
          violent in 10 or 12 other cities. In early July 2000, in
          connection with student rallies to mark the July 1999
          student demonstrations, a gathering that the press
          reported consisted of out-of-work youth, women and
          old men swelled to an angry mob of several thousand
          who clashed with police and Islamic vigilantes in
          several locations in Tehran.
          Development and human rights
          86. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the areas of
          highest development are in general located in the
          central regions of the country. Those with the lowest
          tend to be towards the frontiers of the country, where
          the minority peoples, that is non-Persians, traditionally
          and to a significant degree still live. According to the
          Human Development Report of Iran, 1999, the three
          provinces at the bottom of the human development
          index are Kohgilooye and Boyer-Ahmad, Kurdestan,
          and Sistan and Baluchistan, three provinces with a high
          percentage of minority peoples. It should not be
          surprising that according to the same source, these
          three provinces rank at or near the bottom in terms of
          adult literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality,
          13
        
          
          AJ55/363
          education, consumption expenditure, the gender
          empowerment index and the human poverty index. The
          correlation between underdevelopment and minority
          peoples is clearly recognized by economic plaimers but
          the Special Representative is not persuaded that the
          Government as a whole understands the importance of
          the problem and its connection with the enjoyment of
          human rights.
          B. Democracy
          87. The Special Representative is mindful of the fact
          that democracy” is a term that is difficult to define in
          normative terms. Certainly it includes free and fair
          elections. A useful statement of what constitutes free
          and fair elections is the Declaration on the subject by
          the Inter-Parliamentary Council dated 26 March 1994.
          88. The elections for the sixth Majilis were held in
          February 2000. The nomination process was marred by
          a sharp exchange between the Interior Ministry on the
          one hand and the Guardian Council on the other as to
          the role of the Council in the vetting of candidates. The
          Council disqualified over 600 candidates, most without
          explanation. The widely held view was that many
          candidates were disqualified because they were viewed
          as reformists, including all 12 members of the Freedom
          Party, an unregistered but tolerated political grouping
          that has been trying for years without success to be
          accepted as a recognized player in the political process.
          89. Statements and estimates of the voter turnover
          ranged from 57 per cent to 83 per cent. The press
          carried a number of stories about voting irregularities.
          90. The Iran Nation Party, another unregistered
          political grouping and the inheritor of the mantel of
          Mohammed Musaddiq as well as the political home of
          the murdered Daryoush Forouhar, suffered severely
          during the period under review three of their
          leaders, Bahram Namazi, Khosrow Sayef and Farzin
          Mokhber, were sentenced to 13 to 15 years in prison
          for promoting anti-regime propaganda” and OEctivities
          against the internal security of the Islamic Republic”.
          The charges had arisen out of the participation of the
          accused in the second phase of the student
          demonstration in July 1999.
          91. The Guardian Council's subsequent action of
          annulling the results in a number of electoral divisions
          without presenting evidence to support their action was
          sharply condemned by some officials. According to the
          press, the winners in two of those divisions were pro-
          reform Sunni personalities. The same response greeted
          the Council's action in ordering a recount in a number
          of constituencies, particularly Tehran itself, despite the
          fact that the Interior Ministry, which has legislated
          responsibility for the supervision of elections, had
          found no reason to do so.
          92. The new Majilis convened in late May 2000, but
          much of its time up to early August 2000 was taken up
          with procedural matters. In June 2000, the major
          groupings among those members generally described
          as reformists declared their legislative priorities to be
          the reform of the press and electoral laws, the
          enactment of authority for the creation of private radio
          and television stations, and the enactment of a
          guarantee that those charged with political offences
          would have the right to trial by jury. Meanwhile, the
          view began to be heard, mainly from conservative
          quarters, that the Majilis should concentrate on
          economic issues, including inflation and
          unemployment. In late July 2000, a controversy broke
          out between the Majilis and the judiciary as to their
          respective authority to carry out investigations. The
          insistence of the judiciary on its exclusive jurisdiction
          over a recent incident provoked charges that the
          exercise of rights of the Majilis, as set out in the
          Constitution, was being impeded by the non-
          cooperation of the judiciary reflecting the sensitivity of
          the system to the activism of the new Majilis in trying
          to investigate the complaints it is receiving from many
          quarters.
          93. At the end of July 2000, the President was
          reported by the press as declaring that the Islamic
          Republic of Iran accepts democracy in principle but
          that it must be based on a respect for the values and
          goals of Islam. The following day, a leading reform
          member of the Majilis was quoted in the press as
          declaring that in the Islamic Republic of Iran, being a
          majority does not necessarily bring power. A week
          later, the Supreme Leader, in what was described as an
          unprecedented move, declared that the press reform
          legislation being finalized by the Majilis was not to
          proceed.
          94. In the Special Representative's view, it is clear
          that while the February election of the sixth Majilis had
          certain flaws, it was nevertheless another important
          step on the road to accountable democratic governance.
          Since then and despite efforts to confine the agenda of
          the Majilis to economic matters and most importantly
          14
        
          
          AJ55/363
          the intervention of the Supreme Leader to block the
          press reform bill in the Majilis, that body has taken a
          significant step in re-establishing its own human rights
          committee and is pressing ahead with several important
          legislative initiatives to improve the human rights
          situation in several key areas.
          C. Guardian Council
          95. On the occasion of the twentieth aimiversary of
          the Guardian Council in July 2000, the Supreme
          Leader met the members of the Council, and in a public
          statement emphasized the importance of the Council in
          protecting the form and conduct of the Islamic system
          through checking conformity of laws with Islam and
          the Constitution. He stated that the Council had the
          duty to prevent the infiltration of impure elements into
          the pillars of the system.
          96. The Special Representative sees many difficulties
          with the actual operation of the Council. One is its
          trespass into the election process, where its refusal to
          approve certain candidates and its annulling of the
          results in certain electoral divisions is widely viewed
          as an attempt to block the election of persons holding
          certain political views, including a number usually
          described as reformist as well as members of the
          Freedom Party. The Council's refusal or reluctance to
          issue clear, legally based reasons for such action has
          provided significant credibility to the charges brought
          against it.
          97. A second problem as seen by the Special
          Representative is that some of the members are noted
          for the intolerant attitudes they occasionally express.
          One member of the Council is in effective control of an
          extrajudicial organization, Ansar-i-Hezbollah, noted
          for its involvement in a wide variety of violent,
          terrorist-like activities against student and other
          elements in Iranian society, who are seen by this self-
          appointed band as threats to the nation's virtue. The
          same person was quoted in the press in early August
          2000 as saying that Islam could not be saved with
          liberation and tolerance, and declaring that the closure
          of the newspapers was the best thing the judiciary had
          done since the revolution.
          98. In short, without calling for the disbandment of
          the Council as it operates at present, the Special
          Representative believes it to be a major obstacle to the
          further development of democracy in the Islamic
          Republic of Iran.
          D. Islamic Human Rights Conmiission
          99. Little information about the work of the Islamic
          Human Rights Commission has come to the attention
          of the Special Representative in the period under
          review. However, in an important interview with the
          press at the beginning of April 2000, the Secretary of
          the Commission said it had now been confirmed that
          illegal detention centres continued to exist in the
          Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition, the Commission
          is reportedly trying to investigate illegal detentions and
          persons gone missing in the justice system (see
          para. 41 above).
          100. Internationally, there have been important
          developments. The research-oriented International
          Council on Human Rights Policy has recently
          published a report incorporating several case studies of
          national human rights institutions and the conclusions
          to be drawn from them. Among the most important are
          the need to acquire social legitimacy, the need to
          become proactive and programme-oriented rather than
          strictly complaints-led, and the need to emphasize
          accessibility not only in the widespread location of
          offices but also in simplified procedures and the
          offering of services in minority languages. The report
          contains a number of detailed recommendations, all of
          which would seem to be relevant to the Commission.
          They provide an excellent series of targets for the
          Commission.
          101. Finally, the Special Representative notes
          Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/76, in
          which among other things the Commission reaffirms
          the importance of developing national institutions that
          are in conformity with the relevant principles adopted
          by the General Assembly in 1993.
          IX. Correspondence with the
          Government of the Islamic
          Republic of Iran
          102. For correspondence between the Special
          Representative and the Government of the Islamic
          Republic of Iran, please see annex III.
          15
        
          
          AJ55/363
          X. Conclusions
          103. The period under review has been disastrous for
          the freedom of the press, a freedom that developed in
          large part to facilitate the implementation of
          government accountability. This freedom is an integral
          component of a civil society. The Special
          Representative urges the three branches of the Iranian
          Government to work together to accomplish this vital
          goal.
          104. The student demonstrations of July 1999 were a
          signal event in the life of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
          It should have been an occasion to celebrate the
          exercise in freedom of expression. The judiciary moved
          quickly against the student leaders, but apart from an
          unsatisfactory trial against certain police officers has
          apparently done nothing to bring the extrajudicial
          vigilantes to justice. In Tabriz as well, students have
          paid a heavy price for exercising their right of
          expression. The Special Representative calls on the
          Government to accelerate its efforts to bring the
          provocateurs in both cases to trial.
          105. The major systemic impediments to the full
          enjoyment by women of their human rights have not
          yet been addressed. The Special Representative calls
          on the Government to do so.
          106. The legal system requires urgent attention. To
          begin with, the Special Representative calls on the
          judiciary to accelerate the introduction of the reform
          programme that was promised a year ago when the
          head of the judiciary took office. The Independent Bar
          Association has failed to meet the expectations that
          were held out for it when its first elected council came
          into office. IBA is not yet living up to its name or the
          international guidelines for bar associations. The
          Special Representative urges the Government, perhaps
          the Majilis, to study the re-establishment of the Bar
          Association to meet the commitments of the President
          to the rule of law, in particular to a truly independent
          bar.
          107. The number of executions continues to be high.
          The Special Representative urges the Government to
          comply with existing international standards in this
          respect.
          108. It is now generally and publicly acknowledged
          that torture exists in the Islamic Republic of Iran and
          that it is certainly not an isolated phenomenon. The
          Special Representative urges the Government as a
          whole to commit itself to uphold the ban on torture that
          appears in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran and the various international norms in that regard.
          109. The murders and disappearances of intellectuals
          and dissident politicians seem no nearer to being
          solved, which has given credibility to the widely held
          view that an open enquiry or trial would lead to
          persons in high places. The Special Representative
          calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of
          Iran, in the fulfilment of the commitment to the
          protection of human rights as well as its specific
          undertaking in the case, to prosecute as soon as
          possible those concerned, in open court and without
          concern as to where the evidence may lead.
          110. The rights of minorities, both ethnic and
          religious, remain another area largely neglected by the
          Government. The Special Representative urges the
          Government to:
          (a) Address the concerns of the Sunnis with
          regard to the building and/or refurbishment of
          dedicated Sunni mosques;
          (b) Address the concerns of the Baha'is and
          certain Christian groups with new confidence-building
          measures, following upon the recent relaxation of
          marriage registration requirements, so as to fully and
          expeditiously implement the rights of citizenship”
          policy approved by the Expediency Council;
          (c) Extend to all religious and ethnic minority
          groups the cultural rights articulated in the
          Constitution.
          111. With regard to the fuller enjoyment of civil and
          political rights as well as economic, social and cultural
          rights, the Special Representative believes it imperative
          that the Government address the socio-economic
          problems that are causing so much distress to the poor
          and the disadvantaged.
          16
        
          
          AJ55/363
          112. The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to make
          progress towards democracy, but sooner or later the
          arbitrary, untransparent and perhaps even capricious
          conduct of the Guardian Council must be addressed. As
          it stands now, it is an obstacle to making the
          Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran more
          accountable to the Iranian people.
          113. Finally, the Special Representative notes with
          regret that he continues to be unable to visit the Islamic
          Republic of Iran. He calls on the Government to return
          to full cooperation with the Commission on Human
          Rights in this regard.
          17
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Annex I
          Denial of fair trial and related rights
          Case of Iranian Jews and Moslems in Shiraz
          A. Arbitrary arrest and extended detention without charge
          In violation of:
          1. Iranian laws:
          . Article 32 of the Constitution;
          . Article 32 of the Procedure of the Public and Revolutionary Costs in
          Criminal Affairs (1999) (Criminal Procedure Code);
          . Article 33 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
          2. International norms:
          . Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
          . Article 9.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
          Accused held for nine months without judicial arrest order or temporary
          detention orders. Thereafter, by temporary detention orders but apparently not
          in accordance with law.
          B. Indictment: failure to specify charges under law
          In violation of:
          1. Iranian laws:
          Article 32 of the Iranian Constitution;
          Article 132 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
          2. International norms:
          Article 92 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
          Up to the date of judgement, no indictment known to the Penal Code of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran was made.
          C. Extra-legal confession
          In violation of:
          1. Iranian laws:
          Article 30 of the Constitution;
          Article 129 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
          18
        
          
          AJ55/363
          2. International norms:
          . Article 14 (3) of the International Convention Civil and Political Rights.
          The accused were obliged to testify against themselves without free access to
          lawyers or family members.
          D. Right to counsel of choice and to presence of counsel
          In violation of:
          1. Iranian law:
          . Article 35 of the Constitution;
          Article 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
          2. International norms:
          Article 14 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
          Accused allowed to appoint counsel only after one year in detention, and even
          then only the four friendly” lawyers assigned by the Court.
          Accused denied right to have lawyers present during meeting with judge,
          prosecutors and media.
          19
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Annex II
          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, Farrad Khajeh and
          Habibullah Ferdosian have been released.
          2. 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, has also been released. The status of the verdict against him,
          however, is unclear.
          3. Baha'is remaining in Iranian prisons include Bihnam Mithaqui and Kayvan
          Khalajabadi, arrested on 29 April 1989 for Zionist Baha'i activities” and sentenced
          to death; Musa Talibi, arrested on 7 June 1994, charged with apostasy and sentenced
          to death but now being processed for commutation of sentence; Dhabihu'llah
          Maharami, arrested on 6 September 1995, charged with apostasy and sentenced to
          life, following commutation from a death sentence by the Supreme Leader; Mansur
          Haddadan, arrested on 29 February 1996, charged with holding a children's art
          exposition and sentenced to three years in prison; Sirus Dhabihi-Muquaddam,
          Hidayat Kashifi Najafabadih and Ata'u'llah Hamid Nasirizadih, arrested in
          October/November 1997, charged with continuing family life” meetings and
          sentenced to death in the case of the first two and to 10-year imprisonment in the
          case of the third; Sonia Ahmadi and Manuchechr Ziyai, arrested on 1 May 1998,
          charged with holding meetings for youth and sentenced to three years'
          imprisonment.
          20
        
          
          AJ55/363
          Annex III
          Correspondence between the Special Representative and the
          Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1 January-
          1 July 2000
          1. On 18 February 2000, the Special Representative addressed a letter to the
          Minister for Foreign Affairs requesting information on the cases of Hidayat Kashifi
          Najafabadi and Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam, reportedly arrested for their Baha'i
          activities and whose death sentences had allegedly been confirmed. The Special
          Representative received a letter dated 25 February 2000 from the Permanent
          Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at
          Geneva, stating that the spokesmen of the judiciary had denied confirmation of the
          death sentences. By another letter dated 27 March 2000, the Permanent
          Representative further informed the Special Representative of the following:
          (a) In accordance with article 23 of the Constitution, no-one is subject to
          inquiry simply for holding a certain belief in the Islamic Republic of Iran;
          (b) Hidayat Kashifi Najafabadi, Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam and Ataollah
          Hamed Nasirizadeh were arrested in 1997 on charges of action against national
          security and spying and sentenced to death by the primary court;
          (c) The Supreme Court rejected the case and sent it back to another primary
          court for reconsideration;
          (d) The second primary court sentenced the first two persons to death and the
          third one to 10 years' imprisonment. The Supreme Court rejected the case because
          of some deficiencies and sent it back for rectification.
          (For an update on the case, see main report, para. 73.)
          2. A letter dated 30 March 2000 from the Permanent Representative contained the
          following information in response to the Special Representative's letter dated 21
          June 1999 drawing the urgent attention of the Iranian authorities to the reported
          arrest in the Islamic Republic of Iran of 13 persons, all said to be Iranian Jews,
          suspected of spying for Israel:
          (a) In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, accused persons enjoy
          the right to be defended by a lawyer of their own choice. A competent court in
          Shiraz had announced that no lawyer had been chosen. In the absence of any chosen
          lawyer, the court would ask the Bar Association to appoint a lawyer;
          (b) The first hearing of the trial would begin on 13 April 2000.
          3. On the same case, the Special Representative sent a second letter to the
          Permanent Representative on 4 April 2000. In response to this communication, the
          Permanent Representative, by a letter dated 4 July 2000, informed the Special
          Representative as follows:
          Referring to your letter regarding the trial of a group of people
          (including Jews and Muslims) on charges of espionage, I would like to inform
          you that they were tried by the Court of Shiraz in the presence of lawyers of
          their own choice.”
          21
        
          
          AJ55/363
          In accordance with the relevant law, the Court acquitted five persons,
          due to insufficient evidence and sentenced 12 persons to imprisonment due to
          clear evidence and confession of the accused. The duration of detention would
          be included in prison terms. However, the case is still open and the accused
          and their lawyers have the right to appeal during 20 days after the issuance of
          the verdicts.”
          4. 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 Affairs concerning the case of Latif Safari,
          Director of the banned daily Neshat, and Akbar Ganji, journalist for the daily Sobh-
          e-Emrooz, imprisoned on 26 April 2000. In the letter, a joint appeal was made to the
          Government to ensure everyone's right to freedom of opinion and expression. No
          response has been received from the Government.
          5. The Special Representative addressed two urgent letters to the Minister for
          Foreign Affairs concerning a number of Iranian citizens who were reportedly
          arrested and held in incommunicado detention in relation to their participation in a
          conference in Berlin organized by the Heinrich Boell Institute on 7 and 8 April
          2000. In this regard, on 11 May 2000, he joined the Special Rapporteurs on the
          promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on
          violence against women and on torture, as well as the Chairman-Rapporteur of the
          Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in an urgent appeal concerning two
          women's activists, Mehrangiz Kar and Shahla Lahiji, and a representative of the
          student organization Office for Strengthening Unity, Ali Afshari. The three were
          subsequently released.
          6. In this context, the same signatories, except for the Special Rapporteur on
          violence against women, sent a second urgent appeal on 30 June 2000 regarding the
          cases of Ezzatollah Sahabi, a 70-year-old journalist, and Khalil Rostamkhani, a
          translator. No response has been received from the Government. In both letters,
          while referring to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1999/32 with regard to
          incommunicado detention, the authors of the above-mentioned letters appealed to
          the Government to ensure that the rights of the above-named persons to physical and
          mental integrity, to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention and to freedom of
          opinion and expression be protected.
          7. A letter dated 24 March 2000 from the Permanent Representative of the
          Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Office at Geneva contained the
          following information in response to the Special Representative's letter dated 13
          July 1999, written in conjunction with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of
          the right to freedom of opinion and expression, concerning the student
          demonstrators who were reportedly attacked by members of the armed forces and
          members of the vigilante student group in the University dormitory of Tehran
          University:
          Considering the students' clashes in Tehran, there is a difference
          between those who came to the streets because of their legitimate appeals and
          those who rioted. According to our information, the students did not
          participate in the riot. There were others who rioted in the streets when the
          students' sit-in ended.
          22
        
          
          AJ55/363
          The Islamic Republic of Iran's government policy is to study and
          examine the above-mentioned issues. The judiciary, within the framework of
          its legal duties, is following it up independently.
          During the riots, 50 members of illegal groups were arrested, 30 of
          whom were released on bail. The cases of another 20 arrested persons,
          including Seyed Djavad Emami, Forough Bahmanpour and Nasiri, were
          referred to the Revolutionary Court.
          Criminal charges related to the law enforcement forces for entering the
          students' dormitory without permission in spite of the rejection of any request
          for entering the dormitory by officials in charge were referred to the judiciary
          organization of the armed forces.
          To date, most of the perpetrators of the illegal actions have been brought
          to justice. The trial of the 20 members of the law enforcement forces,
          including Brigadier-General Farhad Nazari, former Deputy Chief of Tehran's
          law enforcement forces, on charges of illegal entry into the dormitory and
          attacking the students, is under way.
          With the goal of rooting out the future possibility of any such incident,
          the case of any other perpetrators of illegal actions, including any person who
          might have plaimed and ordered the attack, is still open.”
          23
        
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Tagged as:

Discrimination, Free Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Conscience, Gender Rights