World must condemn appalling deterioration of human rights in Iran

The international community must publicly condemn the deterioration in Iran’s human rights record during the country’s upcoming review session at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 8 November, Amnesty International said today.

The organization urges states taking part in Iran’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to denounce the widespread human rights violations and make concrete recommendations for the Iranian authorities to address them.

“From horrific execution rates, to the relentless persecution of human rights defenders, rampant discrimination against women and minorities, and ongoing crimes against humanity, the catalogue of appalling violations recorded in Iran reveals a sharp deterioration in its human rights record,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

“Iran’s upcoming UN human rights review session offers a crucial opportunity for the international community to send a strong and clear message to the Iranian authorities that its shocking disregard for human rights will not be tolerated.

Iran’s upcoming UN human rights review session offers a crucial opportunity for the international community to send a strong and clear message to the Iranian authorities that its shocking disregard for human rights will not be tolerated
Philip Luther, Amnesty International

“It is also an opportunity for states to place increased attention on the ongoing enforced disappearance of thousands of political dissidents over the past three decades, a crime against humanity which has been overlooked for far too long by the international community.”

Since Iran’s human rights record was last reviewed in 2014, the level of repression by the authorities has risen significantly.

Thousands of people have been rounded up for expressing their views or taking part in peaceful demonstrations and a vindictive crackdown has been launched against human rights defenders, including activists campaigning against forced veiling laws, in order to destroy the last vestiges of Iran’s civil society.

The authorities have further eroded fair trial rights and have executed more than 2,500 people, including juvenile offenders, in blatant violation of international law.

In a submission to the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the session, Amnesty International concluded that Iran is “failing on all fronts” when it comes to human rights.

The organization is calling on the country’s authorities to lift restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, end discrimination against women and minorities, impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and end torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and ongoing crimes against humanity.

During its last review session, Iran accepted just 130 out of the 291 recommendations it received from other states. Amnesty International’s analysis indicates that the Iranian authorities have failed to deliver on the majority of those promises.  

Iran rejected calls during its last UPR to protect the rights of human rights defenders, stop their harassment and release those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

“Instead of strengthening co-operation with civil society and human rights organizations, as Iran had pledged to do, the authorities have instead further undermined these rights, intensifying their crackdown on dissent,” said Philip Luther.  

Those unjustly imprisoned include journalists, artists and human rights defenders including lawyers, women’s rights defenders, minority rights activists, labour rights activists, environmental activists and those seeking truth, justice and reparations for the 1988 prison massacre.

Some of those jailed have been given shockingly harsh prison sentences, in some cases lasting several decades.

Human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi was sentenced to 29 years and three months in prison and 111 lashes for his human rights work and is required to serve 15 years of this sentence. Lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes for her peaceful activism and is required to serve 17 years of her sentence.

As well as continuing to subject women and girls to discrimination in law and practice, Iran’s authorities have rejected ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and failed to criminalize gender-based violence, including marital rape, domestic violence and early and forced marriage.

Women’s rights defenders, including those who have campaigned against Iran’s discriminatory and degrading forced veiling laws, have faced arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and lengthy prison sentences. They have also faced harassment and abuse by pro-government vigilantes for defying such laws.

Iran also continues to deny defendants the right to a fair trial, including by refusing them access to lawyers during investigations and trials, and continues to convict people based on “confessions” extracted through torture and other ill-treatment.

The authorities have a dreadful record of flouting prisoners’ right to health, deliberately denying medical care to prisoners of conscience, often as punishment, amounting to torture and other ill-treatment. Human rights defender Arash Sadeghi continues to be tortured through the denial of cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, in a relentless execution spree, more than 2,500 people have been put to death since Iran’s last UPR session, including at least 17 who were under 18 at the time of the crime, in flagrant violation of international law.

The Iranian authorities must reverse the catastrophic deterioration of their human rights record
Philip Luther, Amnesty International

The Iranian authorities also continue to commit the ongoing crime against humanity of enforced disappearance by systematically concealing the fate or whereabouts of several thousand imprisoned political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret between July and September 1988.  

“The Iranian authorities must reverse the catastrophic deterioration of their human rights record,” said Philip Luther.  

“That means releasing prisoners of conscience, ending the persecution of human rights defenders, granting defendants the right to a fair trial and putting an end to their grotesque use of the death penalty by establishing an immediate moratorium with a view to abolishing it completely.  

“It also means immediately disclosing the truth regarding the fate of victims of the 1988 massacres, stopping the destruction of mass grave sites containing the remains of the victims, and bringing to justice those suspected to be responsible for these crimes against humanity.”