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28 October 2016, New York – European Union Intervention at the 71st United Nations General Assembly Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed

Thank you, Mr Chair,

We thank the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, for his report and his presentation to the Committee.

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

We commend your continued efforts to report on the situation of human rights in Iran in a comprehensive manner and value your cooperation with other human rights mandate holders. We also appreciate the efforts made to include the comments received from the Government in the report to the General Assembly. While we welcome the pledges made on various human rights issues and acknowledge the legislative and administrative changes that address some human rights violations, we note, at the same time, persisting human rights concerns, as documented in the reports presented by the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur. We therefore urge action to transform these pledges into concrete results.

Accordingly, we welcome the opportunity to hear your views, Mr Special Rapporteur, on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran.

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

– Your report and the report of the Secretary-General refer to the frequency with which the death penalty is carried out, in disregard of internationally recognized safeguards. The SG’s report highlights that in 2015 at least 966 people and during the first half of 2016 at least 200 people were reportedly executed. The majority of the executions are imposed for drug -related offences. The Human Rights Committee, monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has repeatedly stressed that capital punishment for drug-related offences does not comply with the “most serious crimes” requirement under article 6 of the Covenant, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a State party since 1975.

Given the social and economic impacts caused by drug addiction in Iran could you elaborate on steps for cooperation between the Iranian government and the OHCHR and UNODC to examine alternative strategies to combat drug-related offences?

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

In the concluding observations of its review of the Islamic Republic of Iran in January 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to end the execution of children and people who had committed crimes while under the age of 18; to take legislative measures to eliminate the application of the death sentence for individuals who had committed crimes of retaliation in -kind while under the age of 18; and to commute the existing sentences for all offenders on death row for crimes committed while under the age of 18. In addition Article 6 of ICCPR and Article 37 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, both of which have been ratified by Iran, prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for children.

Could you please elaborate on possibilities to take further the efforts by Iran to ensure its compliance with its obligations under ICCPR and CRC?

– The Secretary-General notes the commitment by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran to loosening restrictions on freedom of expression and his acknowledgment of freedom of speech as a basic human right. However during the reporting period there has been little progress and more erosion of freedom of expression and opinion.

Could you please elaborate what would be the most needed steps in order to improve the situation [to exercise everyone’s right to freedom of expression]?

– The EU shares your concern about the continued human rights violations against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities including, but not limited to, Christians, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians and members of the Baha’i faith and their defenders, and ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of religion or belief presented in your report.

What immediate measures could be taken in order to improve the situation of persons belonging to religious minorities in Iran?

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

We welcome the Government’s invitation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran. However we note with regret that your requests for a country visit have not yet been granted. We would strongly encourage the Government to grant access to the Special Rapporteur to visit the country as this would help facilitate the human rights dialogue on important areas of concern.

Thank you.

  • Ref: EUUN16-186EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Third Committee - Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee
  • Date: 28/10/2016

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