Good afternoon.

I would like to first of all offer my thanks to the governments of Germany, Sweden, and Norway for unconditionally accepting my request to conduct my latest fact-finding mission in their countries. The mission has been very successful, as I was able to collect a wealth of valuable information on subjects relevant to my mandate in Berlin, Stockholm, and Oslo.

Over the past twelve days, I have met and spoken with several dozen individuals of Iranian origin, human rights workers, government officials, and academic experts. I would like to thank everyone who took time to share information with me, particularly those who were able and willing to offer first-hand witness testimony related to the situation of human rights in Iran.
I have and will continue to apply rigorous standards in assessing the credibility of every individual account and piece of testimony I encounter. With that said, the credible testimonies I did receive on this trip have largely confirmed patterns I had previously encountered, and paint a very concerning picture of the human rights situation in Iran.

I speak at a time when the execution rate in Iran seems to have accelerated to an alarming pace in recent weeks and months. There are credible reports, in many cases corroborated by the government itself, that the number of executions carried out in just the past two weeks is at least 32, and possibly as high as 81. In October, the government executed 10 individuals, including Mr. Saeed Sedighi, despite impassioned calls from the international community to halt the executions in light of serious concerns regarding due process. I am extremely alarmed by this apparent spike in executions, and I reiterate my call on the government of Iran to adhere to its own international legal obligations in guaranteeing due process and ceasing the use of the capital punishment, except in cases narrowly defined as acceptable by the UN Human Rights Committee for the ICCPR.

I am troubled by the treatment of various minority groups in the country, who all too often bear the brunt of repressive policies. These include unrecognized religious minorities like the Baha’i and Yarsan, as well as recognized but increasingly suppressed religious communities like Christians and certain Sunni Muslim communities. I am also deeply concerned about ethnic minorities, including the Baluch, Kurdish, Ahwazi Arab, Turkmen, and Azerbaijani peoples, whose plights are often compounded by linguistic and cultural subjugation, in additional to political repression.

The situation for women in Iran has worsened in recent months, as new segregationist education policies have been implemented, and women’s rights activists are being harassed and sometimes arrested for various forms of free expression, including for the defense of women’s rights or for educational or cultural expression. A new bill, currently in the Parliament, would extend the age required for women to obtain the consent of a parental guardian for a passport to 40.

The situation for sexual minorities in Iran is also extremely alarming, as the government tightly controls all forms of consensual relations.

The Iranian government continues to harass, detain, and imprison human rights defenders, who are often themselves lawyers, raising serious concerns about the independence of lawyers and of the judiciary in the country. While I was pleased that the government released Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in September, I was disappointed that only days later, authorities summoned his lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, to serve a prison sentence for spurious charges. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, another lawyer and human rights defender currently in prison, is on a hunger strike related to the authorities’ treatment of her family, and I am worried about her condition.

Of course, I am extremely troubled by reports that Mr. Sattar Beheshti, a blogger imprisoned for exercising his legitimate right to free expression, died while in custody, possibly because of injuries sustained from torture. I expect the Iranian government to conduct a comprehensive, impartial, and transparent investigation into his death, to make the methodology and results of that investigation public, and to punish anyone responsible and compensate his family appropriately. I also once again extend this call for investigations to cases dealt with by previous mandate holders, and to the events following the 2009 presidential elections. In this regard I echo the concluding observations made by the Human Rights Committee in their review of Iran last year.

Unfortunately, it appears that the space is narrowing for any independent thought or expression that

Iranian government authorities do not approve of, for any reason, in contravention of Iran’s international legal obligations and, indeed, some of its own laws.
I remain hopeful that the government of Iran will substantively engage the specific findings that I have outlined today, and in more detail in my reports, and that we can work together to reverse these trends and promote respect for human rights, freedom, and rule of law.

I would now be happy to answer any questions you might have.


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