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UN Human Rights Report: Iran Needs Judicial Reform

Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Asma Jahangir. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Asma Jahangir. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

In her new report on the state of human rights in the Islamic Republic, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Asma Jahangir has emphasized that Iran still faces grave human rights challenges.

Jahangir stresses in particular that in the absence of an independent judicial system, the Justice Department, especially the “Revolutionary Courts” have forced Iran into a critical situation.

“Without reforming the judicial system, improving the human rights situation in Iran will be impossible,” says Jahangir in her new report, adding, “For improving its human rights record, the government of Iran has no option other than reforming the judicial system and, in the meantime, guarantee its independence”.

Furthermore, Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer, reiterates, “For making necessary reforms, Iran needs proper education for those who work for the Justice Department to make sure that legal investigations and trials are fairly held”.

Nevertheless, the UN rapporteur includes some positive developments regarding human rights in Iran. “Recently, there have been some developments in Iran that might lead to positive results”.

Jahangir has singled out President Hassan Rouhani’s initiative, “Citizens' Charter” and recent efforts in the parliament to reform the law concerning narcotics smugglers, as examples of positive developments.

In the same report, she praises the high turnover in Iran’s latest presidential election and presents it as an indication that Iranians are interested in democratic values and human rights.

Meanwhile, “Rouhani’s remarks, during the presidential campaign, in support of press freedom and the necessity of developing women’s capability were heartwarming”, the UN rapporteur maintained.

Previously, the Reporters Without Borders, RSF, had repeatedly called President Rouhani to fulfill his promises, while international trade unions had criticized him for the lack of freedom for political, labor and social activities in Iran.

Jahangir has also highlighted these aspects in her new report and presented a list of challenges Iran faces in the human rights arena.

The challenges include, arbitrary detentions and prosecuting people who have used their legal rights to enjoy their legitimate freedom; persecution of journalists, students, trade union leaders, people of arts and human rights defenders; high number of executions, including execution of children; employing torture and misbehavior at prisons and detention centers; widespread discrimination against women and religion and ethnic minorities.

The UN rapporteur also accuses the Islamic Republic of keeping many officials who have ignored Iranian’s absolute human rights on duty, with outrageous impunity.

Moreover, Jahangir continues, “Those who live outside Iran and contact me are always scared that, in retaliation, the Islamic Republic might punish their families inside the county”.

In another part of the report, Jahangir refers to widespread executions inside the Islamic Republic prisons in 1988, reminding, “The family of those who were executed have the right to know and be informed on what happened in 1988”.

In the meantime, Jahangir urges the regime to establish an independent truth finding committee to investigate the 1988 massacre of prisoners who were doing their terms behind bars.

She once again calls upon Iranian authroities to repeal all death penalty verdicts issued for the children in Iran.

Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi had dismissed United Nation’s new report on its human rights record and announced, “Tehran does not recognize it”.

Jahangir replaced Maldivian diplomat Ahmed Shahid as UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in November 2016. She is set to present her second report at the third committee of the UN General Assembly.

Her first report on the Human Rights Situation on Iran, angered Tehran authorities who widely dismissed her findings as unfounded and biased.

In an interview with Radio Farda, Jahangir noted that Tehran officials had not been able to base their response on acceptable evidence or documents in denying any of her findings.

However, Jahangir’s new reports has also been dismissed by Tehran.

“Asma Jahangir’s report”, Qassemi announced on Sunday, September 3, “Is biased and based on political and selective objectives”, adding, “Therefore, her report, as well as her mission, are totally rejected and unacceptable”.

Furthermore, According to Tasnim, a news agency close to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC, Qassemi accused Asma Jahangir of ignoring the improvement of human rights situation in Iran.

“Unfortunately, the special rapporteur seems to have turned a blind eye to the multiple cases of human rights advances in Iran and tried to display a gloomy and one-sided image of the status of human rights in Iran with the repeated use of vague phrases and expression of unreasonable concern on the basis of inauthentic data”.

The UN has repeatedly asked Iranian authorities to allow its rapporteurs to travel to Iran and personally interview the family of the victims of human rights violation, visit the prisons and detention centers. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic has never accepted the request.