Resolution on the serious and systematic human rights violations in Iran

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Considering that the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been drastically deteriorating in the past three years (2016-2019):

The UN Secretary General and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran have issued annual reports depicting the worsening conditions of human rights in Iran;

The UN General Assembly’s annual resolutions on Iran have denounced the violations of human rights;
The Iranian government has ignored the main recommendations made during the 2014 UPR and other treaty bodies and failed to fulfil the recommendations it agreed to.

Considering that the death penalty is frequently and extensively used:
• Islamic Republic of Iran is consistently the second biggest executioner in the world and is believed to have the highest rate of per capita executions; thousands of prisoners are on death row;
• Death sentence is provided for more than 20 categories of offences, including for non-serious offences, such as drugs-related and economic offences; as well as consensual sex between men, adultery, repeated consumption of alcohol, theft, cursing the prophets; and ambiguously worded offences such as moharebeh (waging war on God), rebellion and corruption on earth, mostly for political prisoners;
• The inhuman sentence of stoning for adultery is stipulated in law; several persons are still on death-row by stoning, which may be replaced by other methods of execution. In 2018, two women were sentenced to stoning;
• During the past three years (2016, 2017 and 2018), 567, 507, and 253, were executed, respectively. The real figures may be higher. The welcome drop in the high number of executions in 2018 was due to a change in the anti-narcotics law. The majority of the execution victims (about 230) faced their death as a consequence of the law for retributory punishment for murder;
• Executions in public and secret executions were still common;
• Religious “offences” may result in death sentence or long-term prison terms;
◦ In 2018, one person, a former official of the Iranian TV, was found guilty for committing “corruption on earth” through establishing a “fake spiritual institution” and was executed;
◦ In 2017, at least two persons were sentenced to death on charges relating to their “spiritual” beliefs. One of the death sentences was later commuted to a prison sentence;
◦ In 2016, two other persons were sentenced to death for “cursing the prophet of Islam”;
• Minors are executed for crimes allegedly committed when they were under 18 years of age. As of early 2019, at least 97 child offenders were known to have been executed since 1990, including at least two (and possibly seven) in 2016, four in 2017, and seven in 2018. Islamic Republic of Iran is the biggest executioner of children in the world;
• At least 85 minors were known to be on death row as of end of December 2018. The real figure is most probably higher. The alleged juvenile offenders are kept in prison until they reach the age of 18 and then executed. Nevertheless, several defendants have been executed even before reaching the age of 18.

Considering that due process is systematically disregarded and denied:
• Defendants, notably in political cases, are arrested without arrest warrant, are held for long periods in solitary confinement and denied access to family and lawyer and subjected to extremely unfair trials, where confessions extracted under torture are admitted as evidence and occasionally televised before trial;
• Human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, women’s rights activists, trade unionists and dissidents, who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly or freedom of association, frequently face vague security-related charges such as “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the State”, “establishing illegal groups” and even “spying”; and are sentenced to long-term prison terms and ban on professional and social activities;
• Nine wildlife conservationists were arrested at the end of January 2018 and were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment including through prolonged solitary confinement in order to extract forced “confessions”. One of them was found dead in prison. The rest were accused of espionage for using cameras to track endangered species. Four could face the death penalty and others more than a decade in prison;

Scores of other environmental activists have been arrested in the western province Kurdistan during 2018 and 2019;
• New charges are frequently brought against some of the political prisoners to prevent their release; hence they repeatedly face unfair trials and are sentenced to new prison terms;
• Courts continue to sentence people to torture and inhumane punishments such as amputation, gouging of the eyes, virginity tests, and flogging; at least five sentences of amputation of hand were carried out in 2017;
• Many prisoners are denied much needed medical care; scores of mainly political prisoners have lost their lives in various prisons since 2003 under dubious conditions for reasons including: beating, torture and subsequent lack of medical care and treatment.
◦ one of the latest such cases, Kavous Seyed-Emami, a Canadian-Iranian wildlife conservationist and academic, died under suspicious circumstances in Evin prison two weeks after his arrest at the end of January 2018. The authorities claimed that he had committed suicide and refused to release his body unless his family agreed to an immediate burial without an independent autopsy.
◦ At least nine people arrested during the widespread protests against poverty, corruption and political repression in December 2017 and January 2018 lost their lives in custody under dubious circumstances; the authorities admitted the death of at least 25 persons during the protests;

Considering that freedoms of conscience and conviction, expression, assembly, and association are practically nonexistent:
• Iran ranked 170th (down from 165 in 2017) among 180 countries in the 2019 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index;
• Thousands of people are estimated to be in prison for purely political reasons or for their human rights activities; in 2018 alone, around 7,000 people were arrested during different protests;
• The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has officially declared several people in Iran as being arbitrarily detained. At least 16 of these individuals remain detained;
• Scores of journalists have fled the country in the past decade fearing arrest and imprisonment. At the end of 2018, according to RSF, 28 journalists were in prison. Throughout 2017, at least 94 bloggers were detained; one journalist was flogged 40 times in January 2017 for inaccurate reporting;
• Newspapers operate under heavy censorship and could face closure if they cross the red line, which are far too numerous; in May 2019, a weekly publication (Seda) was even banned for its front page headline: “At the crossroads of war and peace.”
• Peaceful assemblies and even literary gatherings are banned in practice; music concerts are regularly banned by national or local judicial authorities even after receiving authorisation from the government;
• Various civil society organisations, including the ‘Journalists Association’ and ‘Writers Association of Iran’ are unable to operate and freely hold meetings or elect their officers. In May 2019, three Board members of the Writers Association were sentenced to six years imprisonment each for charges related to their membership of the Association and opposing censorship;
• Independent labour unions are not recognised in law and their activists consistently face judicial and other harassment. Scores of unionists have been arrested before and on 1 May in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for organising Labour Day celebrations. Independent labour activists and unionist teachers are particularly targeted. At least 10 unionists are currently serving prison terms or are otherwise detained for organising independent union activities. Many other unionists have served prison sentences, while some others are free on bail awaiting the outcome of their trials or appeals. Several young journalists who supported the persecuted unionists are also in detention and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment;
• Peacefully operating human rights groups, including FIDH’s Iranian member organisations, are banned from working and monitoring the situation of human rights in their own country;
• Dissenting peaceful political parties are prevented from operating and their activists are frequently sentenced to long-term prison terms; even pro-government reformist groups and their activists face different types of pressure and harassment including at the judicial level;
• Prison sentences have been upheld against several film makers for their work, who face the risk of being arrested any time to serve their sentence;
• Other artists, including poets and cartoonists, have been sentenced to and served prison terms or been forced to flee the country to avoid imprisonment;
• The book publishing industry is under very strict and harsh control and subjected to heavy censorship that has been driving many publishers into bankruptcy.

Considering that human rights defenders, including human rights lawyers, women’s rights activists, workers’ rights activists attempting to organise independent labour unions, student rights activists, journalists and writers, minority rights defenders have faced severe persecution, been victims of harsh repression and sentenced to long term imprisonment sentences for their peaceful human rights activities; including:

• Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, has been arbitrarily detained since June 2018, to serve a five-year prison term, issued in absentia in September 2016. In addition, she faced seven new trumped-up charges in December 2018 and sentenced to 148 lashes and a total of 33 years and six months in jail, of which she will have to serve at least 12 as required by law.
• Ms. Nargess Mohammadi, spokesperson and vice-president of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), who had been released in July 2012, was re-arrested in May 2015 allegedly to serve the remainder of a six-year prison sentence, although she was suffering from muscular paralysis and lung emboli. In addition, in May 2016, she was sentenced to 16 more years in prison, of which she will have to serve at least 10 years.
• At least five other human rights lawyers are in detention; three of them are serving long-term prison sentences (Mr Mohammad Najafi, a total of 14 years; Mr. Amir Salar Davoodi, a total of 30 years; Mr. Massood Shamsnejad, a total of six years and four months).

Considering that women’s rights are regularly violated:
• In the assessment of the World Economic Forum in 2018, Iran ranked 142nd among 149 countries in global gender gap, 143rd in women’s economic participation and 141st in women’s political empowerment.
The provisions of the Constitution, the Civil Code and the Islamic Penal Code (IPC) are extremely discriminatory against women regarding marriage, divorce, custody of children, inheritance, and nationality. The IPC entitles husbands to kill their wives caught committing adultery and enjoy impunity. Additional legislative plans have been implemented that effectively reduce women’s participation in the labour market. The Family Protection Law (2013) further eased polygamy and reduced the already very limited rights of women;
• Age of criminal responsibility for women is 9 lunar years, i.e. 8.7 solar years;
• Early and forced marriages are widespread and on the rise;
• Police and other security forces frequently use excessive force and violence as well as statutory measures and fines to force a strict dress code (hijab) on women; from late 2017 through 2018 and 2019, at least 112 were arrested or detained for taking part in protests against the compulsory hijab in public; some of them were sentenced to prison terms and a few fled the country; in July 2019, more than 10 women’s rights activists were in detention, mostly for celebrating 8 March;
• In previous years, a number of ‘improperly’ dressed women have been victims of acid attacks;
• Extensive measures have been taken to segregate women from men in universities and government departments and to ban women from a number of university courses;
• Women are banned from attending men’s sporting events.

Considering that thousands of victims and families of victims of grave human rights violations committed by the State have been denied justice for four decades:
• Thousands of political prisoners were executed throughout the 1980s and in particular during the prison massacres of 1988;
• In the wake of the protests that followed the 2009 presidential election, thousands of people who protested against vote-riggings were arrested, tortured, and imprisoned; scores of protestors lost their lives in detention centres under torture or in other highly dubious conditions; all perpetrators of those crimes enjoy impunity;
• Families and relatives of the executed political prisoners and protestors have faced persecution and harassment including at the judicial level for demanding accountability and/or information about the burial places of their loved ones; several family members have been sentenced to long-term prison sentences for approaching and complaining to the UN bodies;
• The authorities have consistently refused to officially acknowledge the executions and the grave violations committed or to bring the perpetrators to accountability. On the contrary, Hojattolislam Ebrahim Ra’eesi, a member of the death committee responsible for summary re-trials and executions of political prisoners in 1988 was appointed as head of the Judiciary in March 2019.

Considering that ethnic communities have been consistently repressed:
• Ethnic communities have been deprived of the right to learn, to teach and publish books and newspapers in their own languages;
• They have faced extensive political and economic discrimination;
• Political and cultural activists of the Arab and Azeri communities have faced heavy cultural repression; and the Arab, Kurd and Baloch communities in particular have been victims of disproportionately higher number of executions;

Considering that religious minorities have suffered from severe persecution:
• The constitutionally recognised religious minorities, in particular Sunni Muslims, dissenting Shiites including Sufi dervishes, Christians, and others have suffered from severe repression and scores of their followers have been persecuted, detained and sentenced to harsh prison sentences solely for their beliefs;
• Prayer centres of dervishes and Sunni Muslims have been attacked, badly damaged or demolished; In February 2018, 300 Gonabadi Order of dervishes were arrested during protests, many were severely beaten while in detention, which led to the death of one protester in custody. Two protestors and five security agents were reportedly killed, including three police officers who were run over by a bus. Mohammad Salas, a member of the Order, was reportedly tortured and forced to sign a “confession” admitting commission of the murders. Despite later retracting his confession, he was sentenced to death and executed on 18 June 2018.
• Churches of Christians have been closed; house churches and their activists have been attacked and their priests and activists have been handed down heavy prison sentences;
• Followers of the persecuted non-recognised Baha’i faith face particular discrimination, including arbitrary arrests, closure of their businesses, raids on their homes, confiscation of property, desecration of their cemeteries, refusal to permit burial of their dead, and a ban on accessing higher education; as of March 2019, 83 followers of the Baha’i faith were in prison and some of them were serving long-term prison sentences;
• In 2016, at least 25 Sunni Muslims allegedly involved in terrorist activists, who had reported being tortured to “confess”, were executed.

Considering that free elections are consistently prevented:
• Elections are open only to hand-picked candidates under highly discriminatory legislation;
• Only six candidates were allowed to contest the 2017 presidential election and a large number of others, including all 137 women candidates, were disqualified;
• Women are not permitted to stand in presidential elections;
• More than half of around 12,000 registered candidates were disqualified and not permitted to stand in February 2016 parliamentary elections;
• Two 2009 presidential candidates, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, as well as Mr. Mousavi’s wife Ms. Zahra Rahnavard, have remained under house arrest since February 2011.

The 40th FIDH Congress Expresses its strong support for allIranian human rights defenders, other rights activists, prisoners of conscience and victims of human rights violations; Urges the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to:
• Respect all its obligations under international human rights law, and in particular:
• Stop immediately the practices of executing children and public executions;
• Stop immediately imposing the death penalty for political charges;
• Establish immediately a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolish it;
• Respect and guarantee equality for women in law and in practice;
• Respect and guarantee freedom of expression, thought, conscience and conviction, assembly and association, as well as minority rights;
• Guarantee fair and free elections;
• Guarantee for all prisoners, the application of due process, access to proper medical care, their families and lawyers and their right to fair trial in line with international standards;
• Release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally;
• Provide families of victims of grave human rights violations with information about their lost loved ones, and make accountable all perpetrators of the heinous crimes of the 1980s;
• Ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UN Convention against Torture, key fundamental ILO Conventions as well as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Urges the United Nations, the European Union and the national governments to: 
• Call on the Iranian government to cooperate with and ensure prompt access by UN special procedures to the country;
• Raise well-documented cases of gross human rights violations in all exchanges with the Iranian authorities;
• Insist on compliance of their companies with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in all deals and contracts with the Iranian parties;
• Call on the Iranian authorities to comply with all economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as enshrined in the ICCPR, ICESCR and other human rights instruments that Iran has ratified;
• Call on the Iranian government to release all prisoners of conscience without exception, including all human rights defenders, journalists and dissidents;
• Urge the Iranian authorities to take effective steps to combat impunity for gross human rights violations and to provide justice to victims of such violations during the last four decades.

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