UN expert says Iran continues to violate “myriad” human rights, including those of Baha’is

UN expert says Iran continues to violate “myriad” human rights, including those of Baha’is

UN Photo: Ahmed Shaheed
New York—31 October 2016

Iran continues to violate the human rights of its citizens in a wide range of ways, according to the UN’s special expert on human rights in Iran, who officially presented his report to the General Assembly on Friday, 28 October 2016.

Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, said such continuing violations include the excessive use of the death penalty without due process, the use of torture, the detention of human rights defenders and journalists, and widespread discrimination against women and minorities groups, including members of the Baha’i Faith.

“Information gathered from government sources and civil society actors continues to highlight the arbitrary detention and prosecution of individuals for their legitimate exercise of myriad rights, as well as the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, following the enactment of these legal improvements,” said Dr. Shaheed in his report.

His report – and his prepared speech to the General Assembly – also said that Iran continues to violate the rights of religious minorities.

“Adherents of recognized religions, such as Christians (especially those of Muslim background), and of unrecognized ones, such Baha’is, continue to suffer discrimination and are reportedly prosecuted for peacefully manifesting their religious beliefs,” his report said.

During the interactive session with the General Assembly’s Third Committee on Friday, Dr. Shaheed was asked how governments can help encourage Iran to live up to its human rights obligations.

He urged nations to continue their dialog with Iran, while also ensuring that civil society “is part of this process.”

Moreover, he said, investment in Iran should also be encouraged – as long as investors follow the so-called “Ruggie” Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which, among other things, call on business enterprises to respect human rights.

In that regard, he added, special attention should be paid to the situation of Baha’is, who have faced economic discrimination in Iran. “We hear of practices that are against the Baha’is, which is on particular case that I have been reporting on,” he said.

Earlier in the week Dr. Shaheed said the Baha'i question deserves a “higher profile” in discussions of human rights in Iran because, if “a state is unwilling to accept at the bottom line equal rights for all its citizens, we will never get to other issues.”

A number of other governments during the session on Friday also strongly encouraged Iran to end discrimination against religious minorities.

Germany, for example, noted particularly it would like to “highlight the situation of the Baha'i community.”

Read Dr. Shaheed’s full report here.

Read about Iran’s economic discrimination of Baha’is here.