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Iran Roundtable on UNHCR Vote to Renew Ahmed Shaheed Mandate

Washington, DC – March 28, 2014 - Iran Roundtable (IR) issued the following statement regarding the recent United Nations Human Rights Council (UNRC) vote to renew the mandate of Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed.
IR considers the UNRC decision to renew the mandate of Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed a welcome development for human rights in Iran.  The decision shows that human rights conditions in Iran under the regime of Islamic Republic of Iran is still very grim, even with the election of moderate President Rouhani, and is of a special concern to the international community—similar to nuclear containment.
The 2013 Amnesty International report on human rights situation in Iran well explains the continued deterioration of human rights situation in Iran even under the apparent reformist government of President Hassan Rouhani. “The authorities maintained severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Dissidents and human rights defenders, including minority rights and women’s rights activists, were arbitrarily arrested, detained incommunicado, imprisoned after unfair trials and banned from travelling abroad. There were scores of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Torture and other ill-treatment were common and committed with impunity. Women, religious and ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTI community were subject to discrimination in law and practice. The cruel judicial punishments of flogging and amputation continued to be used. Official sources acknowledged 314 executions, but a total of 544 were recorded. The true figure may be considerably higher.”
At IR, we are very concerned that while international community is engaged with Iran on the nuclear tension, the human rights dossier will be abandoned.  In a recent letter to President Obama, IR, while fully supporting the Administration's policy of preventing the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons; also expresses that promoting democracy and human rights in Iran, along with the nuclear issue, should remain as the core issues on the agenda of the US-Iran negotiations:
    "Our humble recommendation reflects the universal demand and aspiration     of the Iranian people for human rights and democracy, for establishment of     an independent, credible, and transparent judiciary, for halting of all     executions and release of all political prisoners, and for freedom of     expression. These values are in full accord with your administration's stated     objectives and the long standing US laws and traditions. These values are a     precondition for creating long-term peace and stability in Iran and     throughout the Middle East." 
Iran, under the reign of the regime of Islamic Republic of Iran for the past 34 years has been repeatedly listed as one of the most violators of human rights by UN human rights bodies, human rights organizations, and more recently by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.  According to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran, countries that have not abolished the death penalty can impose it only for the most serious crimes. We believe execution of 1,800 people (since 2010) on drug-related charges such as possession of 30 grams of heroin, morphine, opium or methadone are not most serious crime.

We welcome the United Nations Human Rights Council decision to renew the mandate of Special Rapporteur. Moreover, although the Iranian government of President Rouhani has labeled the Special Rapporteur’s findings “not objective” based on “mostly a compilation of unfounded allegations,” and is opposing the renewal of Mr. Shaheed’s mandate, we do urge the Iranian authorities to cooperate with international human rights bodies to ease international community’s concerns on dramatically deteriorated human rights conditions in Iran.

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