UNHCR Special Rapporteur 2012 Report on Human Rights in IranOn 6 March, UNHCR Special RapporteurAhmad Shaheed published his much-anticipated report on the situation of human rights in Iran. Almost every accusation of abuse previously published by activists or victims has been upheld, and the need justice and fair treatment of prisoners and former detainees that the One Million Voices for Iran campaign demands is fully and unequivocally supported.
The full document is availabe here. The introduction is reproduced below:
The Islamic Republic of Iran possesses the basic legislative framework and tools to promote respect for human rights. The country is a party to five of the nine legally-binding international human rights treaties, and many of the rights guaranteed therein are enshrined in the Constitution. International commitments and constitutional provisions notwithstanding, however, it is clear that elements of the legal framework, together with insufficient adherence to the rule of law, create systemic obstacles to the Government‟s ability to adhere to these commitments. As an original member of the United Nations system, the Islamic Republic of Iran has an important role to play in the global community but this has unfortunately become overshadowed by confrontation and tension. The Special Rapporteur believes that meaningful cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms could help the country to lessen potential for politicization, an issue about which the Government has repeatedly expressed its deep concern.
Despite the statements made by representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the Government‟s interest in cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and its standing invitation to thematic special procedures mandate holders of the Human Rights Council, the Government has not permitted visits since 2005. (The last visit by a special procedures mandate holder dates back to 2005, when the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing (July 2005) visited the country. Visits by mandate holders prior to 2005 included the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (February 2003), the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (November 2004), the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants (February 2004) and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women (February 2005).)
The Special Rapporteur regrets the fact that the Government has not addressed his request for a country visit issued on 19 September 2011, despite its stated intention to invite two special procedures mandate holders in 2012. The Special Rapporteur continues to urge the Iranian authorities to give positive consideration to his request, as well as those of the Human Right Council and the General Assembly to allow his unfettered access to the country to carry out his mandate.2 While the Special Rapporteur was not granted access to the country during the period under review, he fulfilled his mandate to the best of his ability on the basis of voluminous information collected from a variety of independent and reliable sources. The Special Rapporteur reaffirms that he maintained his independence, impartiality and objectivity in weighing the information provided to him.
The Special Rapporteur regrets the fact that a number of urgent appeals made by various thematic mandate holders, as well as several joint communications transmitted to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Special Rapporteur together with other special procedures mandate holders, also remain unaddressed. The insufficient engagement of the Government with the mandate holders was highlighted in a 2010 study, 3 which concluded that the Islamic Republic of Iran held the highest number of pending visits requests of all countries that have issued standing invitations. Data also suggested that the Islamic Republic of Iran received the highest number of communications in the period 2004-2008 (594), and that 25 per cent of the allegations made in the said communications had been wholly rejected, 1.3 per cent resulted in steps taken to address concerns, and approximately 54 per cent of communications transmitted had received no response. The Special Rapporteur notes that the unwillingness to provide access to the country creates a void of information and only encourages the international community to imagine the worst, thereby intensifying the focus on the Government’s human rights record.
The Special Rapporteur welcomes the statement made by the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran during consideration by the Third Committee of the General Assembly of a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in that country , that the Special Rapporteur “should be given time and opportunity to prepare his reports without external pressure or induced prejudices”. To this end, the Special Rapporteur was keen to develop a substantive dialogue with the authorities and is pleased to have at least been granted meetings with the Permanent Missions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in New York and Geneva.
In accordance with the code of conduct for special procedures mandate holders,6 the Special Rapporteur has forwarded the present report to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which made several observations. It stated that, inter alia, the establishment of a country mandate was the result of a “flawed process”, that the country had been cooperating with the United Nations human rights system, and that the Special Rapporteur was engaged in propaganda by participating in forums and gatherings that were contaminated by Western espionage agencies, Zionist elements and terrorist groups. It also stated that sources of information, such as reports or complaints, lacked credibility, and that no positive reference had been made to meetings with officials and representatives of civil society. The Islamic Republic of Iran further stated that more substantive comments would be forthcoming once these matters were addressed.
The Special Rapporteur would like to point out that the cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the human rights mechanisms has been found wanting in reports of the Secretary-General, General Assembly and Human Right Council resolutions, and also in the concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee. The Special Rapporteur highlights the fact that he declined to participate in any forums or public gatherings, except for United Nations press conferences and individual interviews with the media following the presentation of his first report. The Special Rapporteur believes that his information is credible and corroborated by a number of independent sources. Lastly, the Special Rapporteur met with two non-governmental organizations that are supportive of the Government and made adequate reference to their concerns.
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