(Beirut) – The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should renew the mandate of its special rapporteur on Iran, 34 human rights and other organizations said today in a letter to council member countries.

The UNHRC is scheduled to vote on a resolution to extend the special rapporteur’s mandate for a year on March 23, 2016.

“It’s critically important for the Human Rights Council to keep international attention focused on Iran’s deeply flawed human rights record,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director. “Until human rights concerns in Iran are addressed with the same enthusiasm that the Rouhani government shows for inking new business deals, the special rapporteur is needed to ensure that human rights will remain high on the international agenda.”

It’s critically important for the Human Rights Council to keep international attention focused on Iran’s deeply flawed human rights record.

Sarah Leah Whitson

Middle East director

Repressive elements, particularly within the security and intelligence forces and the judiciary, are among those responsible for rights abuses in Iran.

The special rapporteur reported that in 2015 alone, Iran executed between 966 and 1055 people, the majority of whom had been convicted of drug offenses in trials that fell far short of international standards. Human rights groups documented the execution of at least four child offenders in 2015, in violation of Iran’s obligations under international law.


Security authorities routinely arrest and prosecute journalists, social media users, trade unionists, and human rights defenders, as well as members of ethnic and religious minorities, for expressing dissent or for peaceful activities. Revolutionary courts have sentenced hundreds of people to long prison terms for such offenses in unfair trials.

The prominent opposition figures Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi have remained under house arrest without charge or trial since February 2011. And the Tehran prosecutor announced in February 2015 what appeared to be an extrajudicial media ban on any mention of the former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. Iranian authorities disqualified the majority of reform candidates for February parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections based on discriminatory and arbitrary criteria.

Iranian women face widespread discrimination in various aspects of their lives in both law and practice. In 2015, authorities sought to introduce or implement discriminatory laws, including by restricting the employment of women in certain kinds of jobs, and limiting access to family planning as part of official measures to boost Iran’s population.