Last week, Human Rights Watch joined 33 human rights and civil society organizations calling on Council members to support the resolution to renew the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. We believe that sustained international attention, particularly at this stage of Iran’s rapprochement with the international community, is necessary to address the ongoing and extensive rights violations in Iran.
According to the Special Rapporteur’s report, last year alone Iran executed around 1,000 individuals - the highest number recorded in a decade. The majority of these individuals were executed for drug-related offenses in violation of international human rights law, and after being convicted in courts that often fall far short of providing fair trial standards. Following years of international attention, in particular by the Special Rapporteur, the Iranian Parliament introduced a bill in December 2015 to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment for drug-related offenses that do not involve armed activities. The Council must maintain its focus on Iran to help ensure that this draft amendment becomes law and is fully implemented, thereby potentially saving thousands of lives in Iran.
Despite Iran’s increased engagement with the international community on trade and security issues, the human rights of Iranians, particularly with respect to freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and religion, remain dramatically curtailed. Hundreds of journalists, social media users, trade unionists, and human rights defenders, as well as members of ethnic and religious minorities who were sentenced by revolutionary courts to increasingly long prison sentences, remain behind bars. Prominent opposition figures Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi have remained under house arrest without charge or trial since February 2011. The main perpetrators of these human rights abuses have largely enjoyed impunity.
In 2015, authorities sought to introduce or implement discriminatory laws that further restrict the rights of women—who already face widespread discrimination—with respect to divorce, child custody and inheritance, and must legally have their husbands’ permission to study, hold a job, or travel out of the country. Despite repeated statements Iran has made since 2010 to enhance legal protections, women and girls also remain at risk of sexual and other forms of violence, including domestic violence, marital rape, and early and forced marriage.
Human Rights Watch welcomes Iran’s invitations to the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and on the negative impact of unilateral and coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights to visit the country. We wish to emphasize, however, that if Iran is committed to engaging with the UN Special Procedures, it should also accept the repeated requests to visit the country submitted over the past 10 years by several other mandate holders, in particular the country mandate holder.
The renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate provides the Council with an effective means to protect and promote human rights in Iran, while providing the government of Iran a genuine chance to constructively engage with UN human rights mechanisms to address its serious rights issues.
In Colombia, Human Rights Watch supports the governments efforts to obtain a peace agreement that would end years of bloodshed, but we are deeply concerned that the “Agreement on the Victims of the Conflict” announced last December by government and FARC negotiators, opens the door to impunity for atrocities committed during the armed conflict. These serious shortcomings should be adequately addressed during the final stages of negotiations and in the implementing legislation. Otherwise, the agreement could undermine efforts for a sustainable peace by perpetuating the country’s cycles of impunity.