Report Shows Ongoing and Intensifying crackdown on Human Rights Defenders in Iran

Item 4:  Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur for
the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 22nd Session

Geneva

March 11, 2013

Thank you, Mr. President.  The United States welcomes the latest report of Special Rapporteur Shaheed, which details the Iranian government’s ceaseless campaign of abuse against all who criticize or oppose it.  The international community must have continued access to this type of thorough, credible, and unbiased reporting.

The Special Rapporteur’s findings in this report are serious, and indicative of an ongoing and intensifying crackdown on Human Rights defenders and civil society actors.  We are greatly concerned by reports of violations of women’s rights and continued use of torture.  The Iranian government has harassed and imprisoned human rights defenders, women rights leaders, bloggers, labor leaders, and members of minority communities, including Azeris, Arabs, Kurds, Baluchi, Sunni and Sufi Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Baha’is.  Journalists remain under assault, with over a dozen arrested since the start of 2013.  The government’s severe restrictions on the Internet continue to hinder citizens ability to communicate and access information freely.  This campaign of harassment seeks to quash all remaining dissent before Iran’s presidential election.

We note that Iran continues to lead the world in executions per capita.  Many have been executed in public after trials that did not conform to international legal obligations related to due process.  Others have been harassed, arrested or abused by security officials for peacefully expressing their views, including blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died in police custody days after his arrest.  Months after Beheshti’s death—reportedly as a result of torture—Iran still has not conducted a credible investigation into his case or sought to hold his killers accountable.

The United States remains concerned that Iran has refused to cooperate or allow access to the Special Rapporteur, despite his numerous requests.  We repeat our call for the Iranian authorities to grant access to Dr. Shaheed, so that he may carry out his mandate.  The United States is also gravely concerned over reports of reprisals against those who have spoken with or cooperated with the Special Rapporteur.  We remind the Government of Iran their obligation to allow individuals to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association and to allow individuals and groups to maintain contact and cooperation with the mandates of this Council.  We further urge them to take meaningful steps to prevent reprisals against such individuals and groups.

In light of these concerns and others noted in the Special Rapporteur’s report, the United States calls on this Council to renew the Special Rapporteur’s mandate so that the international community continues to benefit from his indispensable reporting.

We have the following questions:

In light of the intensifying crackdown against civil society in Iran in advance of the forthcoming election, what steps can the international community take to help ensure the safety of those Iranians most at risk for persecution?

How would you address the most recent segregationist actions against women, who represent half the population?

Finally, what steps should be taken to pursue concerns about reprisals, and ensure the safety of those who have contact with you and cooperate with your mandate?

Thank you, Mr President.

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