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UN Report Shows That Dismal Human Rights Situation in Iran Continues to Worsen
March 12, 2012

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur for
the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Mr. Ahmed Shaheed)

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

As Delivered by Jill Hutchings

Human Rights Council 19th Session

Thank you, Madame President.  The United States welcomes the report of Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed and thanks him for his thorough work.  As demonstrated by the Special Rapporteur’s first two reports, the dismal human rights situation in Iran continues to worsen.

We note that the Special Rapporteur has made considerable efforts to work cooperatively with the government of Iran, but his requests to visit the country and hold substantive discussions with the government have thus far been denied. We urge the Iranian authorities to allow him to visit and to respond favorably to the outstanding visit requests from the seven other special mandate holders who have requested visits to Iran.

We call attention to the Special Rapporteur’s findings regarding chronic violations of due process rights; the erosion of civil and political rights, particularly the freedoms of expression, religion and association; the rapidly increasing imposition of the death penalty in the absence of proper judicial safeguards and for offenses other than the most serious crimes; impunity for Iranian officials; restrictions on women’s rights; and harassment, abuse, and intimidation of human rights defenders, journalists, and other members of civil society.

Iran violently cracked down on dissent and freedom of expression prior to this year’s parliamentary elections, a strategy that has been in place since the brutal repression following the 2009 elections.  We note the ongoing detention of political leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, who have been under house arrest for over a year.  We also note the continued harassment and arrest of journalists who seek to document these abuses and give voice to their fellow Iranians.  The Special Rapporteur’s report notes that Iran has detained more journalists than any other country in the world.

The Government has also imposed extreme restrictions on the Internet, constraining the free flow of information, limiting the ability of Iranians to communicate with each other and the outside world, and impeding efforts to document abuses that otherwise occur out of public view.

As noted by the Special Rapporteur, members of the LGBT community and ethnic and religious minorities, including Baha’is, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sufis, and other non-Shia communities, continue to face persecution.  We also note that state-sponsored Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism remain an ongoing concern.  We call on Iran to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor in Iran who was convicted of “apostasy” in 2010 and faces potential execution because he refuses to recant his chosen faith, and to release over 90 Baha’is from Iranian jails incarcerated solely because of their beliefs.

Because of these unresolved concerns and the Iranian government’s refusal to work with the Special Rapporteur, we call on this Council to renew the Special Rapporteur’s mandate during this session.

We have the following question: What are immediate ways that the international community, including civil society and religious leaders of international standing, can assist the situation in Iran and help protect those who are unjustly prosecuted?

Thank you, Madame President.