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UN Iran Human Rights Rapporteur Mandate Extended

Delegates attend the opening day of the 40th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council on February 25, 2019 in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has extended the mandate of its special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for another year.

During a session on March 22, the representatives of 22 governments voted for and seven (Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Eritrea, India, Iraq, and Pakistan) voted against a resolution for the extension of Javaid Rehman's mandate, while 18 abstained.

Rehman, 32, a Pakistani-born British legal scholar and professor of Islamic law, was appointed to the position in July 2018 after former rapporteur Asma Jahangir passed away in February 2018.

In his latest report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on February 27, Rehman voiced concern over human rights violations in Iran, paying particular attention to the implementation of the death penalty.

Directly addressing the high authorities in Iran, Rehman asked them to provide the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the special rapporteur with a list of all child offenders on death row.
The recent crackdown on labor rights in Iran was also given special attention in Rehman’s report.

Meanwhile, Iran’s official news agency (IRNA) cited Tehran's representative to the European headquarters of the UN, Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh, as saying the resolution was an unfair, dishonest, and unjustified plan devised by "some certain governments."

Passing the resolution, Baghaei Hamaneh argued, will merely reinforce illusionary clichés against Iran.

"It is saddening that the time and budget of the UNHRC are wasted on devising such stereotypes cooked up by a few against a member of the UN," Baghaei Hamaneh said.

Previously, in a letter published on March 15, more than 40 human rights organizations had supported the renewal of the mandate for the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran.

In their letter, a copy of which was published by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), 42 organizations called on the members of UNHRC to extend Rehman's mandate.

In November 2016, Jahangir, a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, replaced Maldivian diplomat and politician Ahmed Shaheed as the UN special rapporteur on Iran.

Jahangir, 66, suffered a stroke and a brain hemorrhage in Lahore in February 2018 and later died in the hospital.

A professor of Islamic and international law at Brunel University, Rehman was appointed as Jahangir’s successor and took office in July 2018.
Iran never allowed Shaheed, Jahangir or Rehman to visit Iran, despite their repeated requests.

Before the establishment of UNHRC to replace the UN Human Rights Commission, former Venezuelan Justice Minister Andrés Aguilar was the representative of the UN for monitoring human rights in Iran (1984-1986). Aguilar's successor, Salvadoran lawyer, Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, served as UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran from 1986 to 1995.

Galindo Pohl's successor, Canadian lawyer Maurice Danby Capithorne, served until 2002.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe, Danby Copithorne disclosed that his first report on human rights in Iran infuriated the Iranian authorities to the extent that they banned him from visiting Tehran.

On December 17, 2018, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning widespread human rights violations in Iran.

The resolution denounced the country’s “ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief."
Furthermore, Tehran was blamed by the resolution for restrictions and attacks on places of worship and burial and other human rights violations. These included but not limited to harassment, intimidation, persecution, arbitrary arrests, and detention, denial of access to education and incitement to hatred leading to violence against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.