UN Committee exposes grave shortcomings in Iran’s human rights record

Press release
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Following the UN Human Rights Committee’s recent examination of Iran’s report, FIDH and its member organisation, the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), welcome the subsequent concluding observations issued by the monitoring body on the country’s failure to uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Human Rights Committee noted grave shortcomings concerning Iran’s compliance with many provisions of the ICCPR, mirroring concerns raised by FIDH and LDDHI in their joint report submitted to the UN body prior to its October session. Reacting to the Committee’s conclusions, LDDHI President and FIDH Vice-President Abdol Karim Lahidji commented that the review had «unequivocally demonstrated that Iran committed the very human rights violations its signing of the ICCPR was supposed to prevent».

The Committee reserved particularly sharp comments for Iran in a number of areas related to the ICCPR, with womens’ rights, the death penalty and the freedoms of assembly, association and expression being just a few examples out of many. Regarding womens’ rights, the monitoring body called on Iran to amend its Civil Code in order, among other things, to end the right of men to prohibit their wives from working, grant women the equal right to divorce and prohibit polygamy. The Committee also expressed alarm at the exemption from punishment of men who murder their wives on suspicion of adultery and called for the adoption of legislation criminalizing domestic violence.

On the right to life, the Committee expressed its concern about the «extremely high and increasing number of death sentences» issued and carried out in Iran for a wide-ranging set of offences, often vaguely formulated and including non-serious crimes. In light of such breaches of the ICCPR, the experts recommended the abolition of the death penalty, beginning with an immediate end to the execution of minors and people who were minor at the time of their offence.

Concerning the freedoms of assembly, association and expression, the independent experts noted among other things that «human rights defenders and defence lawyers often serve prison sentences based on vaguely formulated crimes such as ’mohareb’ (enemy of God)», with potential dissent stamped out through arrests and Internet censorship. While calling for the guarantee of all three freedoms to all individuals without discrimination, the Committee also urged the withdrawal of the draft Bill on the Establishment and Supervision of NGOs, which, if passed, would see the activities of civil society overseen and further repressed by a ’Supreme Committee’ including Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Intelligence Ministry members,

Elsewhere the UN body’s conclusions noted serious violations of the ICCPR with respect to freedom of religion, torture and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. While reaffirming the Committee’s assertion that the Covenant takes precedence over any internal law invoked by Iran, Mr Lahidji further urged the Iranian authorities to «implement the recommendations of the UN experts without delay, so as to reverse a long-deteriorating, increasingly grave human rights situation in the country».

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