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IHRDC Condemns Ongoing Abuses in Advance of Iran’s Universal Periodic Review

(October 9, 2014) – Yesterday, on October 8, 2014, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) presented a statement at a pre-session in Geneva, Switzerland in advance of Iran’s (IRI) Universal Periodic Review. In this statement IHRDC raised several concerns regarding the non-compliance of the IRI’s new Islamic Penal Code with the country’s international human rights obligations.

Later this month, the United Nations Human Rights Council will review Iran’s human rights record in Geneva at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process that takes place once every four-and-a-half years. The UPR is a key mechanism for addressing the state of human rights in all 193 United Nations member states. The UPR is designed to treat all states equally with respect to their human rights records. The UPR process includes the opportunity for each state to declare what efforts they have undertaken to fulfill their obligations to respect human rights.

In the 2010 UPR, the IRI accepted 123 recommendations, partially accepted 3 recommendations, rejected 46 recommendations, and took note of 16 recommendations. The IRI indicated that 28 of the rejected recommendations were inconsistent with the Institution-Building text and/or not internationally recognized human rights, or not in conformity with Iran’s existing laws, pledges and commitments. The IRI rejected recommendations to consider the “elimination of cruel punishment, including juvenile executions and stoning,” and to “guarantee the independence of the judiciary, renounce the staging of collective trials and allow the effective exercise of the right to a defense.”

While many accepted recommendations involved the general observance of Iran’s international obligations, several dealt with specific issues. For instance, Iran accepted a recommendation to assure fair and transparent trials for members of the Bahá'í faith and another to guarantee free and unrestricted access to the Internet. These are only two examples of the many recommendations that were accepted, but which still remain unfulfilled.

The IRI has not permitted Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, to visit the country. On October 8, 2014, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary of the IRI’s High Council for Human Rights, stated that the appointment of a Special Rapporteur with a mandate to report on the situation of human rights in Iran is an unjustified and illegal act. Given the IRI’s failure to honor its obligations regarding the accepted recommendations, its rejection of numerous recommendations calling for basic human rights protections, and the lack of cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, it can be concluded that in this cycle the IRI has not engaged with the UPR process in good faith.  

In its statement at the pre-session, the IHRDC addressed the adoption of the new Islamic Penal Code of 2013 and some of the main areas of concern including (1) the age of criminal responsibility, (2) corporal punishments and stoning to death, (3) inequality in blood money for women and religious minorities, (4) crimes of “waging war on God” and “sowing corruption on earth, (5) instances in which a person’s life is not fully protected under Iranian law because he or she is considered to be “deserving of death”, and (6) rule of law issues.

IHRDC makes several recommendations in this statement, including amending the Islamic Penal Code to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility for girls, abolishing all forms of corporal punishment such as the amputation of limbs and flogging, eliminating discrimination on the basis of sex and religion in determining compensation for homicide and bodily injuries, entirely removing the concept of “mahdoor-ol-dam” (deserving of death) from the new IPC and all other laws, ensuring that all sentences are based on clearly-defined laws passed by the parliament, and ending the use of Islamic fatwas and non-legal sources as the basis for criminal sentencing. This statement follows IHRDC’s prior submission to the UPR in March 2014.

In delivering IHRDC’s statement, Mohammad Hossein Nayyeri, a Legal Advisor with the organization, criticized Iran’s unwillingness to confront many of the recommendations made in the 2010 UPR. Nayyeri stated, “Over the past four years the IRI has used the UPR process as an excuse to refuse cooperation with other UN mechanisms, in particular the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. Now it is time to hold the IRI accountable and remind them about their obligations with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran.”

In assessing the human rights situation in the IRI, Rod Sanjabi, the Executive Director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, added, “A lack of respect for due process is at the very core of many of the most egregious human rights violations committed by the Iranian government.” Sanjabi continued, “Rather than affording citizens the due process rights that are guaranteed under international and domestic law, the legal process in Iran has been turned into a charade that precludes the possibility of a fair trial. While a good faith approach to the UPR and other UN special procedures would be ideal, even in the absence of good faith on the part of the Iranian government, the UPR serves to put the IRI on notice that the international community—and the Iranian people—are fully aware of these violations.”

For more information, please contact:

Rod Sanjabi

Executive Director

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Email: RSanjabi@iranhrdc.org

Phone: +1 203 772 2218

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