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UN Secretary-General Decries Iran’s Human Rights Violations

U.S. -- Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, speaking during the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, September 21, 2020

In his annual report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described "repeated and serious violations" of human rights in Iran as a "grave concern."

The report published on Wednesday was prepared for submission to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) two months ago.

Guterres's report, which covers the period from September 2018 to the summer of 2020, underlines "repeated serious violations" of human rights and "violent repression" of widespread protests in Iran.

One of the report's highlights is the "violent repression and use of force by security forces" in November 2019 when protests erupted in more than 100 cities in Iran and were met with a deadly government response.

The health crisis has doubled the impact of the economic crisis and sanctions on the human rights situation in Iran, added Guterres.

Guterres was referring to the initial outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which involved Iran ahead of any other country in the Middle East and ranked it first in the region in terms of the COVID-19 death toll.

The new UN report also says implementing the death penalty, "particularly for juvenile delinquents," is still significant in Iran.

At least 90 juvenile offenders were on death row at the beginning of last summer, the report says, adding that carrying the death penalty against these young offenders is a profound source of concern.

"The Secretary-General reiterates concerns expressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on April 22, 2020, at the execution of two child offenders in four days, as well as the beating to death of a third child offender by security and prison officials," the report says.

Furthermore, it notes, "The Secretary-General regrets that the Islamic Republic of Iran only partially accepted one of 23 recommendations on the death penalty for child offenders during its universal periodic review."

The UN report also mentions dual-national and foreign prisoners, including Iranian-Swedish Ahmad Reza Jalali, Iranian-Austrians Massoud Mosaheb, and Kamran Ghaderi (Qaderi), Iranian Americans Morad Tahabaz, Siamak Namazi, and his father, Baquer Namazi.

Guterres expressed grave concern about the grounds for detaining dual nationals in Iran and the intelligence-related charges against them.

The UN released its report on a day when more than 150 former UN staff members, UNICEF, academics, and civil society members, once again expressed concern over Baquer and Siamak Namazi’s imprisonment in Iran on Tuesday, October 13, and called for their immediate release.

In the last two months, specifically after the sudden execution of the young Iranian wrestling champion, Navid Afkari, Iran's human rights situation has received more attention across the globe. International bodies have repeatedly accused Iranian officials of violating citizens’ fundamental rights.

At the beginning of October, 47 countries present at the UN Human Rights Council meeting condemned the sudden execution of Afkari, demanding the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh and Narges Mohammadi and an end to the repeated gross violations of human rights in Iran.

While expressing "deep concern," the statement, read by the German representative to the UN Human Rights Council, referred to repeated human rights violations in Iran, including "arbitrary detentions, unfair trials," forced confessions" and "torturing" protesters detained in recent anti-government demonstrations Iran.

Since then, only an international award-winning human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi, has been released.

A mother-of-two, Mohammadi was released from prison Wednesday after authorities commuted her ten-year sentence during ongoing concerns about her health.

Mohammadi, 48, is a prominent anti-death penalty campaigner and worked as a spokeswoman for the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a group banned in Iran. Its founder and the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2003, Shirin Ebadi, was forced to leave Iran and live in exile in the UK.