Iran intensifies crackdown on activists: UN chief

AFP , Tuesday 15 Mar 2011

UN's Ban Ki-moon will present a report to the Human Rights Council illustrating how the human rights situation in Iran has become markedly worse since last report on September 2010

Iran has intensified its crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists and the opposition, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a report to be presented next week to the Human Rights Council.

"Since the last report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly dated 15 September 2010, the human rights situation in Iran has been marked by an intensified crackdown on human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, journalists and government opponents," said the report.

In particular, the report pointed to a "dramatic surge in the number of executions" recorded since the beginning of 2011.

Citing Iranian press reports, Ban noted that at least 66 people were executed in January alone.

Ban also cited as a "worrying trend... the increased number of cases in which political prisoners are accused of Mohareb -- enmity against God -- offences which carry the death penalty."

The UN chief noted that requests made by several special rapporteurs, including on torture, or freedom of opinion, to visit the country had gone unmet.

Although Tehran had issued a standing invitation to all human rights mandate holders in 2002, "all the requests remain outstanding," said Ban in his report.

"The Secretary-General regrets that no visit has taken place since 2005 and encourages the government to facilitate their requested visits to the country as a matter of priority in order that they might conduct more comprehensive assessments," said Ban.

He also deplored the low rate of reply by Tehran to letters sent by these UN experts.

While these UN experts sent some 38 letters to Iran in 2010, Tehran responded to only six communications in 2010.

The report "calls upon the government to strengthen its collaboration with the Human Rights Council in this particular area."

Western diplomats are seeking to gather enough support in order to put forward a resolution before March 25, the end of this session of the Human Rights Council, that would call for the creation of a special rapporteur on the situation in Iran.

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