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Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Winner Says Human Rights Ignored by Tehran - 2004-09-10

Human rights activist, Shirin Ebadi, says Iran has signed international treaties protecting young people from execution, but constantly ignores the agreements. Ms. Ebadi spke at a news conference in Vienna.

Ms. Ebadi told reporters that Iran is violating international obligations on human rights especially those concerning women and children.

She said Iran's legal system is not in tune with the country's international obligations.

Ms. Ebadi, who is a lawyer, said she represented a 16-year -ld in a court case who is now awaiting the death penalty in an Iranian prison.

Ms. Ebadi has been imprisoned several times herself, and is leader of the Association for the Support of Children's Rights in Iran.

The Nobel Peace Prize Winner says women are also victims of discrimination by the Iranian justice system. As an example Ms. Ebadi said women injured in a car accident only receive half the compensation paid out to men involved in similar cases.

Ms. Ebadi said young women in Iran today are highly educated and make up almost two-thirds of all students at the universities. But the human rights activist does not think they will spark large-scale protests or a revolution. Rather, she says, she expects gradual reforms to continue.

Ms. Ebadi also said she hopes for a peaceful resolution of the dispute between the United States and Iran on Tehran's nuclear program.

Ms. Ebadi says no country needs nuclear weapons, not the United States, not Israel, not Iran.

The United States says Iran is working on a secret nuclear weapons program, but this is strongly denied by Tehran.

Next week the International Atomic Energy Agency board meets in Vienna to discuss whether concerns over Iran's nuclear program should go the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Ms. Ebadi was in Vienna at the invitation of the Austrian Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who takes over the post of European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs in November.

Ms. Ferrero-Waldner promised, in her new job, to promote a dialogue between the European Union and Iran on human rights issues.