News

Special Rapporteur Seeks Change in Iran's Human Rights Conditions

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi addresses the 19th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, February 27, 2012.
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi addresses the 19th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, February 27, 2012.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur charged with examining human rights conditions in Iran has told VOA that he has found "no positive change of significance" since he took on the mandate in June 2011.

Ahmed Shaheed said in the interview Friday, he remains concerned about the "continuing deterioration" of human rights in Iran. He named the increasing number of executions, and the targeting of human rights defenders and journalists as his top three areas of focus.

Shaheed said in his report to the U.N. that there was an “alarming increase” in executions taking place in Iran, from fewer than 100 in 2003, to 670 in 2011, many occurring after little or no due process.

He said a number of human rights lawyers have been jailed, that there are at least 45 journalists currently imprisoned in Iran, and that many others have fled the country.

Although the Iranian government has refused to work with the Special Rapporteur or allow him to visit the country, Shaheed said  he has interviewed 163 witnesses, "individuals who claim they have had their own rights violated or their family members' rights violated." He also has met with members of the diplomatic corps, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and the Iranian diaspora.

He said of the witnesses, 25 percent live in Iran and included some who are on death row. He did not detail how he was able to speak to people inside Iran, except to say by "electronic means of communication." He said this way, he was able to speak to some who might otherwise have feared talking to him during an official visit.

Shaheed, whose mandate was extended for another year by the U.N., remains hopeful that the Tehran government will allow him access into the country. He said Iran has "not the closed the door."

The Rapporteur plans to "widen the areas of engagement" during his second year on the job. He also hopes to examine "some subjects that the government of Iran is quite concerned about."

He urged Tehran to honor its own constitution and laws, as well as abide by international laws and obligations. He also called for "a moratorium on death penalty," the "release of human rights defenders" and an examination of laws that adversely affect journalists.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs