UNITED NATIONS: The UN expert on human rights in Iran says last year saw increasing restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and continuing violations of the right to life, liberty and a fair trial in the Islamic Republic, including 253 reported executions of adults and children.
Javaid Rehman said in a report to the General Assembly circulated on Friday that while the number of executions was the lowest since 2007, “the number of executions remains one of the highest in the world.” The significant decline, he said, is attributed to enforcement of a 2017 amendment to Iran’s anti-narcotics law that saw the number of executions for drug-related offences drop from 231 in 2017 to at least 24 in 2018.
Rehman expressed concern that Iran has more than 80 offences punishable by the death penalty, including adultery, homosexuality, drug possession etc. He said many of the offences are not considered serious crimes under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Among the seven child offenders reported to have been executed in 2018 were two 17-year-olds in April for alleged rape and robbery, Rehman said. “The two were reportedly forced to confess under torture.” Rehman reiterated UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s statement that the execution of child offenders “is absolutely prohibited and must end immediately.” He expressed deep concern at arbitrary arrest, detention, ill-treatment and denial of medical care for dual and foreign nationals, estimating there are at least 30 such cases, including Iranian-Austrian Kamran Ghaderi, who has been detained since January 2016 and is suffering “from a tumor in his leg.” “There has been no progress made in the cases of arbitrarily detained foreign or dual nationals” aside from Iran’s release in June of Lebanese businessman Nizar Zakka, who has US residency, Rehman said.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has subjected these individuals to sham trials, which have failed to meet basic fair trial standards, and convicted them of offences on the basis of fabricated evidence or, in some cases, no evidence at all, and has attempted to use them as diplomatic leverage,” he said.
He also said human rights defenders, members of minority communities, lawyers, journalists including from the BBC’s Persian service, labour and trade union activists and women protesting a law requiring them to wear veils know as a hijab “have continued to be intimidated, harassed, arrested and detained.” Rehman, who is the UN special investigator on human rights in Iran, cited the case of human rights defender and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who was sentenced in March to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes “in relation to her work defending women charged for protesting against the compulsory hijab.”
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019