Mar 19, 2014

UNPO’s UPR Reports Denounce Human Rights Situation in Iraq and Iran

UNPO has submitted two reports to be examined during the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October-November of 2014, concerning human rights violations in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Photo by Izahorsky

On the occasion of the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, UNPO has submitted two reports denouncing the human rights situation in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite their international responsibilities, these States have failed to protect and promote fundamental human rights and freedoms of minority groups and indigenous people. Throughout the UPR procedure, a UN mechanism in which all UN States come under a general review of their human rights record, States and civil society organizations highlight the situation of human rights and issue recommendations to the ”State under Review (SuR)” to improve its human rights practice. UNPO has taken this opportunity to highlight several major issues which affect ethnic and marginalized communities in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The report on Iraq focuses on the Assyrian, Kurdish and Turkmen ethnic groups, raising concerns about the limited codified provision of rights for these communities in the country and the failure of the Iraqi State to fulfill its international obligations. Grave human rights violations are committed by police and security forces with arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions and torture being reported. Security concerns especially affect Iran’s minorities as religious and ethnic identity has become increasingly politicized. Other specific issues arise with the increase of violence in Iraq, the rising number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the unaddressed practice of land-grabbing. Further violations include multiple forms of cultural, political and religious oppression.  Given these issues, UNPO has urged the Iraqi authorities to consider the following recommendations:

- To amend and adapt the Personal Status Law and Civil Status Law to give fair and equal treatment to all citizens, including women and those of religious and ethnic minorities;

- To accede to the ICRMW and the optional protocols of the other major human rights treaty bodies;

- To remove objections entered to the CRC and CEDAW;

- To make efforts to restore balance to the ethnic makeup of the police and security forces;

- To work with the UNHCR to provide support and help to the large number of IDPs in Iraq;

- To take major steps to counter the rise of sectarian violence, and to pay specific attention to attacks on religious minorities;

- To make a priority of bringing perpetrators of attacks aimed at religious minorities to justice;

- To provide adequate funding and support for both foreign and domestic archaeologists to preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage, both Islamic and not;

- To combat electoral fraud and encourage participation by ethnic and religious groups;

- To provide all ethnic groups in Kurdistan with support as to encourage political participation;

- To provide a fair balance in the reservation of seats for ethnic groups based on the actual makeup of the population.

The second report focuses on the main human rights violations occurring in Iran, with a special emphasis on the situation of minority groups, including the Ahwazi Arabs, the Azeri Turks, the Kurds and the Baloch. There are no significant signs of improvement in the routine violations of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Discrepancies between various aspects of national laws and Iran’s human rights obligations, along with the erratic application of these laws, are the reasons for the lack of progress. There are grave restrictions on freedom of expression and association. Of special concern are the multiple reports of arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment. Another serious issue is the widespread use of the death penalty, even for offences that are not considered among the most serious crimes under international law. In the Kurdish, Azeri, Arab and Baloch communities these abuses are carried out on a greater scale with impunity. On the basis of these findings, the report formulates a series of recommendations to be considered by the Iranian government:

- To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to ethnic, linguistic or other minorities;

- To end the intimidation, harassment and persecution of political dissidents, human rights defenders, academics, media workers, and lawyers, on the basis of their political views;

- To amend or abolish the vague security laws under the Constitution and Islamic Penal Code and other legislation that permits the government to arbitrarily suppress and reprimand individuals for peaceful political expression;

- To free all individuals currently deprived of their liberty for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly;

- To free all minority rights activists, human rights defenders, journalists and others who are currently imprisoned for their peaceful advocacy for minority rights;

- To uphold, in law and in practice, procedural guarantees to ensure due process of law;

- To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

- To fight impunity, investigating complaints of torture, ill-treatment and unfair trials;

- To abolish death sentences for drug-related crimes and convert those already passed to prison terms;

- To declare a moratorium on all executions; ban public executions; and limit capital punishment to offences considered to be serious crimes under international law.

During the months of October and November 2014, the UNPO reports will be examined along with other NGO reports and the State report at the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.

The full reports are available for download in the top right column or here:

UPR Stakeholder Report UNPO Iraq

UPR Stakeholder Report UNPO Iran