Human Rights Watch joins numerous international and national NGOs, and Iranian civil society activists, in expressing serious concern over the Iranian government's inadequate and cynical response to the numerous recommendations made to it during its Universal Period Review in February 2010.
Today, two days before the anniversary of one of the most egregious episodes of state-sponsored violence committed by forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its founding in 1979, Iran stands before the Human Rights Council and dismisses the demands of its own people, the domestic and international protections it has promised to uphold pursuant to its own constitution and international treaty law, and the recommendations of the UN member states.
What will the Council's response be?
A full year has passed since the 2009 presidential election and the violence that ensued and the Iranian government continues to mislead the Council by stating that it is already implementing the recommendations that Governments made to Iran to conduct transparent and independent investigations into the killings, arrests, abuse and detentions of thousands of demonstrators and civil society activists, and to protect the rights of dissidents and minority groups.
The truth is that no such investigations are taking place. Even if recent claims that 12 members of Iran's security forces are being tried in a military court for their involvement in abuses that occurred in Tehran's notorious Kahrizak detention facility are true, the trial does not qualify as transparent because it is being held behind closed doors. To date, no high-level officials have been convicted in connection with this or any other case of state-sponsored abuse following the election.
On the contrary, Iranian security forces continue to arrest, detain or convict individuals alleged to have taken part in the post-election unrest. Hundreds of political and civil society activists remain in prison. According to the Iranian judiciary, 250 people have been prosecuted in connection with the post-election unrest, and at least six individuals accused of taking part in the demonstrations are at imminent risk of execution after their death sentences were confirmed by appellate courts.
It is also not correct that Iran is implementing recommendations to ensure that laws do not criminalize freedom of expression, association and assembly. No law has been changed.
Equally important, Iran has categorically rejected some of the most significant recommendations put forth by various member states, because it alleges that they are inconsistent with "internationally recognized human rights", "its existing laws, pledges and commitments" and the Council's Institution Building Package. These recommendations include important calls for required reform, echo demands put forth by the UN member states in UN GA Resolution 64/176, passed in December 2009, and reflect Iran's human rights obligations under international human rights law and the government's commitments. Despite this Iran has rejected recommendations such as prosecuting security officials involved in torturing, raping or killing, amending the penal code to comply with international law, allowing the Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit the country, implementing policies to end gender based violence, and halting the execution of political prisoners.
Given Iran's decision to reject recommendations to allow a number of Special Procedures to visit the country, we recommend that the Council strike Iran from the list of countries with a standing invitation to Special Procedures.
It is time for member states to hold the Iranian government accountable. Because it is clear from its responses, that the Iranian government has no intention of taking the UPR, or the Human Rights Council, seriously.