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No Significant Improvement in Iran’s Overall Human Rights Situation Over Past Year
March 17, 2015

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 Keith Harper

28th Session of the Human Rights Council 

March 16, 2015 – Geneva

Thank you, Mr. Vice President,

Over the past year, we have witnessed no significant improvement in Iran’s overall human rights situation.  The United States holds longstanding concerns regarding Iran’s continued suppression of freedom of expression and civil society.  The government continues to harass members of its ethnic and religious minority populations, conducts executions, often in secret, contrary to internationally-required protections and fair trial guarantees, and imprisons human rights defenders and journalists on politically-motivated charges, among many other violations of human rights.

The United States is alarmed at the current situation for civil society and the press.  The government of Iran has harassed and arrested human rights defenders solely for contacting the special rapporteur.  Over the past year, the government shut down media outlets that were critical of government policies.  Iranian authorities harassed, detained, abused, and prosecuted publishers, editors, and journalists, including those involved in Internet-based media, for their reporting.

The United States remains concerned about Iran’s use of the death penalty without providing for due process and transparency.  Iran regularly executes persons for offenses that do not qualify as the most serious crimes in violation of international law, including persons convicted of drug trafficking or the undefined crime of moharebeh or “enmity against God.”

The human rights situation for women in Iran is particularly grave, despite promises from the government that it is improving.  The Secretary-General’s recent report highlights that men earn salaries averaging 4.8 times more than women.  Women are restricted from pursuing certain degrees in universities and are given lowest priority for job placement, behind men with children and men without children.  In addition, a husband can bar his wife from taking a specific job if he wishes.

The situation for religious and ethnic minorities is especially grave in Iran.  We call on President Rouhani to live up to his pledges to ensure equality, uphold freedom of religion or belief, and amend legislation that discriminates against members of minorities.  The continuing actions taken against the Baha’i community, such as the destruction of cemeteries, must cease.  Actions taken against other religious minorities, including Sunni Muslims, Christians, Sufis, and Zoroastrians, including the banning of religious meetings and related activities, highlight the disregard that the Iranian government shows toward minority communities.  Discrimination against Kurds, Azeris, and other members of ethnic minorities is also widespread.

Dr. Shaheed, how can we ensure that the international community remains engaged on the human rights situation in Iran?