24/10/2013 Statements,

The Special Rapportuer’s October 2013 press conference at the UNGA

24 October 2013

Dr. Shaheed talks to the UN press core about his report on the situation of human rights in Iran




Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

Yesterday, I presented my latest report to the Third Committee on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and I took that opportunity to make three points.

The first was that the welcomed positive signals and statements forwarded by President Rohani
raise expectations for tangible and sustainable reforms.

The second point was that these reforms must produce concrete and demonstratable changes in the country’s human rights situation as raised by the General Assembly and the UN human rights mechnisms. To this effect, actions considered by the new government should work to address issues in the legal system as a whole, and in problematic long-term official practices that undermine basic rights like the freedoms of expression, association, assembly and religion, freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to fair trial, and the right to life.

Such laws include the country’s 1986 Press Law, the Computer Crimes law, and aspects of the Islamic Penal Code that allow for the application of the death penalty for crimes that do not meet “most serious” standards, like drug-related offenses. It also includes the retention of cruel and inhuman punishments, such as stoning and amputation, and the retention of broad and poorly defined national security laws. I also highlighted the problematic Custodianship Law that would allow a man to marry his adopted or foster daughter, who can be as young as 13 years old. Such a law undermines the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the best interests of the child be the primary consideration of actions undertaken by public or private institutions in its jurisdiction.

I also took the opportunity to welcome the recent release and furlough of more than a dozen prisoners of conscience, including prominent human rights activist and lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, as well as human rights activists, Mahboubeh Karami, Jila Karamzadeh-Makvandi, and Majid Tavakoli; all of whom I hope will permanently remain with their families, without condition. I further urged the Government to consider additional steps to ensure the unconditional release of hundreds of other human rights defenders that remain in detention.

My third point was that the role of my mandate is to assess, encourage and assist Iran with efforts to improve its human rights situation and compliance with its international obligations. The establishment of a constuctive and cooperative relationship that serves to identify areas of neccessary improvement, and to highlight positive efforts and tangible outcomes as the Goverment works to advance the solutions proposed by President Rouhani is my goal. To date, Government representatives have taken some steps to engage with me and to build confidences about the possibility of such a relationship, and I look forward to working towards this goal in the coming months.

It is undeniable that respect for human rights and dignity results in individual, national, and global security. A legal system that constitutes comprehensive and equal protections for the rights promulgated by the international human rights treaties is one that possesses the prerequisites for enduring stability and security for its people and its neighbors. Therefore, human rights considerations must be central to the new government’s legislative and policy agenda, and to international dialogue and cooperation.

Iran has itself accepted the necessity of a number of key reforms during its Universal Periodic Review and during its reviews by the UN Treaty Bodies. It is now vitally important for the future welfare of the Iranian people that the new government sets-forth to advance a bold policy programme designed to realize these public commitments and legal obligations.

As I made clear at the outset, if the government chooses to take this path, if it expresses its determination to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights for all Iranians, it will find in me and, I am sure, in the human rights mechanisms willing and determined partners of that path.