Bahai News - Human rights reform in Iran an irreversible trend: UN

Human rights reform in Iran an irreversible trend: UN

Web Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Swizterland, GENEVA - Reform of Iran's human rights situation is an irreversible trend and is expected to pick up speed, while a sense of accountability is also emerging, a UN rapporteur said Thursday.But resistance to change in Iran still exists, a fact made clear by press reports, in themselves a reflection of freedom of expression, special representative Maurice Danby Copithorne told journalists.

"I believe the trend to change, to reform is now in effect irreversible. The question will be more at what speed it progresses," he said, adding his own expectation was for an acceleration over the next 12 months.

"There is resistance to this change. It is very evident from press reports we all see and that itself is a reflection of the freedom of expression that is to a very wide degree now felt, reflected, respected in Iran," Copithorne added.

"I believe out of this new freedom of expression the sense of accountability is now emerging and I think this is very significant for civil society," he said.

Copithorne has presented a report, dated January and covering the second half of last year, to the UN Human Rights Commission currently holding its six-week annual session here.

The report says Iran's law on human rights needs significant improvement, adding that the government has been neither thorough nor prompt in dealing with disappearances and suspicious deaths or in its handling of last July's student demonstrations.

It also noted press reports in Iran of sentences where fingers were amputated, a prisoner received 100 lashes before being sentenced to death and stoning for adultery.

Copithorne told reporters: "It is undeniable that human rights violations are continuing to occur in Iran. But they now are in a little different environment because they face the prospect of the glare of public attention through the press."

"What we are seeing in the press with regard to human rights violations would not, in my view, have got into the press three years ago," he said.

And he highlighted a recent change for religious and ethnic minorities.

Couples wanting to register their marriage are no longer required to state their religion, he said, as is still the case in Iran in applying for university or a passport for example.

"The Baha'is in particular were faced with a dilemma by this because if they put in Baha'i, the form was likely to be rejected saying that as a government form we cannot accept any non-recognised religion," he added.

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