Apr 04, 2007

Iran: UNHRC Criticized for Failing HR Victims

Human Rights Watch accuses UN Human Rights Council of ignoring Human Rights abuses committed by Iranian authorities, claiming the Council’s decision sends the wrong signals to abusive governments around the world.

Below is an article published by British Ahwazi Friendship Society:

Human Rights Watch has accused the UN Human Rights Council of failing the victims of human rights abuses in Iran and of endorsing state crackdowns.

Peggy Hicks, HRW's global advocacy director, criticised the UNHRC's policies towards Iran and Uzbekistan, saying the Council had an "utter disregard for the human rights activists who are struggling in these countries ... The Human Rights Council decision sends exactly the wrong signals to abusive governments around the world."

(click here for HRW report)
HRW has criticised the confidential nature of UNHRC's Iran monitoring programme under Resolution 1503 and demanded an effective response to severe human rights abuses and government intransigence, including public scrutiny.

Despite a deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran, the UNHRC has abandoned its monitoring programme. The council met in confidential proceedings in March to discuss the Iranian government's human rights abuses, but decided against considering them any further.

HRW blames the decision on states that have "consistently aimed to shield abusive governments from criticism" as well as "virtually the entire Africa group" in the UNHRC. Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea had also abstained from the vote on discontinuing monitoring of Iranian human rights abuses.

The Ahmadinejad administration, which came to power in August 2005, has presided over a massive increase in executions and Iran now leads the world in the judicial killing of children. According to HRW, "the number of publicly known executions by Iran grew by more than 80 percent last year to 177 ... These executions often follow secret trials that fail to meet minimum international standards."

It highlighted the flawed trials of 10 Ahwazi men, who have now been executed, and added that "the authorities ... intensified their harassment of human rights defenders and lawyers in 2006 ... Iranians detained for peaceful expression of political views have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and two prisoners held for their political beliefs died in prison under suspicious circumstances in 2006."

Daniel Brett, Chairman of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "Members of the UNHRC are clearly putting national economic interests before human rights protection. The UN body set up to monitor and take action against human rights abuse is failing its purpose. But even if the UNHRC did its job, the Iranian government will ignore any criticism just as it is ignoring international law as well as its own laws and constitutional obligations. Clearly, the UN system is unwilling and unable to address human rights issues.

"The European Union is the most appropriate body to address human rights concerns regarding Iran. As a multi-national body with huge economic importance to Iran, it has the power to put real pressure on Iran. EU sanctions on Iran, targetting [targeting] the political leadership and its financial interests, would have a greater impact than statements by a toothless and incompetent UN body or threats of military action by the US.

"Sanctions should be introduced progressively, in order to increase pressure on Iran to open itself up to monitoring of its human rights record, enable greater freedom of speech and association for Iranians and create the basis for greater government accountability to its people. Iran should be made to meet certain benchmarks in human rights protection in order to avoid sanctions. The most urgent problem is the execution of political prisoners and juveniles. The treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, women, trade unionists, homosexuals and human rights organisations should also receive a high level of attention in relations with Iran, with the EU acting more assertively than it has done to date."