Report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Iran

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On October 1, the UN Secretary-General issued a report on the situation of human and civil rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The report’s summary stated:

The present report, submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution 62/168, is intended to reflect the broader patterns and trends in the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran on the basis of that country’s international treaty obligations and the observations made by treaty monitoring bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. While the report focuses especially of the concerns identified in the resolution, it also includes a section on economic, social and cultural rights in order to present a picture of the entire spectrum of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The report consists of an overview of the legal and institutional framework in the Islamic Republic of Iran; highlights of positive developments as well as protection gaps in the area of economic, social and cultural rights; thematic issues in the area of civil and political rights identified in the General Assembly resolution, in particular concerns raised by the international human rights mechanisms; an overview of the country’s cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and international human rights mechanisms, including in the areas of treaty ratification and reporting and interactions with the special procedures, including in-country missions; and conclusions and steps that may be taken by the Iranian authorities.

Reference to the Baha’i Community of Iran

In a number of places in this report, reference was made to the Baha’i community. For instance, on pages 14-15 of this report, it is stated:

Reports continue to be received about members of the Baha’i community being subjected to arbitrary detention, false imprisonment, confiscation and destruction of property, denial of employment and Government benefits and denial of access to higher education. A significant increase has been reported in violence targeting Baha’is and their homes, shops, farms and cemeteries throughout the country. There have also been several cases involving torture or ill-treatment in custody.

The special procedures mandate holders have repeatedly raised the issue of the Baha’is with the Iranian authorities. Since June 2006, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the Independent Expert on minority issues and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have repeatedly raised the issue of the arrest of 54 members of the Baha’i community in the city of Shiraz who were reported to have been involved in community work. Also on 24 April 2007, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief expressed concern that Baha’i students were subjected to harassment, vilification and other forms of abuse by their teachers and school administrators. It is alleged that the Baha’i students were forced to identify their religion and then were insulted, threatened with expulsion and, in some cases, summarily dismissed from school. In January and February 2007 some 150 such incidents were reported. Many of the students were informed they had been expelled because of their faith. Moreover, in June 2006, the ILO Committee of Experts concluded that no progress had been made in amending or repealing legislation that was contrary to the ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention of 1958. The Committee also expressed continued concern regarding discrimination against members of recognized and unrecognized religious minorities and ethnic minorities. The Committee noted that discrimination against Baha’is remained particularly serious.

On 18 May 2008, it was reported that six members of the Baha’i leadership in the country had been arrested and a seventh member had been detained incommunicado in Mashhad since 5 March 2008. Subsequently, on 23 May, the High Commissioner wrote to the Iranian authorities asking for information on the reports in the light of the obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to ensure that no one is detained arbitrarily and to uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief. The Iranian authorities insist that the arrests were made on national security grounds.

And on page 15 of the report, it is stated:

Treaty bodies have also addressed the issue of the rights of minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As such, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern at the extent of the limitations and restrictions on the freedom of religion and belief, noting that conversion from Islam is punishable and that even followers of the three recognized religions are facing serious difficulties in the enjoyment of their rights. The Committee was particularly disturbed about the extent of discrimination against followers of non-recognized religions, notably the Baha’is, whose rights under the Covenant are subject to extremely severe restrictions (CCPR/C/79/Add.25, para. 16). In 2003, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern over the reported discrimination faced by certain minorities, including Baha’is, who are deprived of certain rights, and that certain provisions of the State party’s legislation appear to be discriminatory and on ethnic and religious grounds (CERD/C/63/CO/6, para. 14). In 2005, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that a large number of Baha’i students had not been admitted to university on the grounds of their religious affiliation (CRC/C/15/Add.254, para. 59)

The full text of report can be read here:

United Nations Report

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