UN panel rebukes Iran on human rights violations
panel rebukes Iran on human rights violations
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 (Reuters) - A U.N. panel has rebuked Iran for an
askew system of justice that too often used torture, amputation, stoning
and other forms of "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."
The General Assembly's social, humanitarian and cultural committee on
Thursday approved a critical resolution by a vote of 60 in favour, 41
against with 53 countries abstaining.
Adoption of the resolution by the committee, comprised of all U.N.
members, is tantamount to formal passage in the General Assembly by the
end of the year. The assembly a year ago voted in favour of a similar
The resolution said Iran had made considerable progress in holding open
debates, conducting fair local elections and opening investigations of
those who abducted or killed intellectuals and student activists.
But it expressed "serious concern" at executions, torture, cruel, inhuman
or degrading punishment and the "absence of due process of law."
The resolution also expressed concern at the restrictions of freedom of
expression, opinion and at "interference with the work of writers and
journalists and closure of publications."
And the document worried that student demonstrators might be sentenced
to death and called on Iran to ensure capital punishment would not be
In July, authorities closed a reformist newspaper, setting off student-led
protests that then led to an attack on a dormitory by vigilantes in
which at least three people died and 1,200 were arrested. The thugs
were said to be aligned with conservative politicians.
The paper's editor, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, was released from jail on
bail on Wednesday while awaiting the verdict of his trial on charges of
New this year is a provision calling on Iran to ensure a "fair and
transparent trial" for 13 Iranian Jews, including a rabbi and a 16-
year-old boy, arrested in March on charges of spying for Israel.
And the committee's resolution again noted the "unabated pattern of
persecution" including death sentences against the Baha'i, the
country's largest religious minority, whose members are regarded as
heretics by Iran.
The resolution was based on a report from Maurice
Copithorne, a special investigator for the U.N. Commission on
Human Rights, who said that while Iran had made some progress in
human rights, events of the last year revealed setbacks.
His report said that Iran from January to mid-August had
seen "more political and social turmoil than in recent years,"
with 138 people executed and prisoners tortured.
"The protection and promotion of human rights has had a
central role in the recent turmoil, and the human rights of the
participants and bystanders have been in jeopardy," said
Copithorne, who has not been able to visit Iran.
He said that a commitment to reform by Iran's president,
Mohammad Khatami, appeared undiminished "but the slow rate of
implementation is leading to increased scepticism."
Iranian envoy, Mohammad Hasan Fadaifard, told the committee
the report expressed "unfounded scepticism" on government
policies but that there was also a national frustration with
setbacks to Khatami's promised reforms.
He noted that police officers had been relieved of duties
because of actions during the student demonstrations and
criminal charges had been brought against some of them.
But he said the criticism against Iran's arrest of the 13
Jews was part of a politically-motivated "disinformation
campaign" as non-Jews had also been arrested with them on the
©Copyright 1999, ABC News
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