NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC welcomes the new UN report on human rights abuses in Iran by Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. In his report to the General Assembly, he expressed serious concern that there has been "no sign of improvement" in key human rights areas, and that "the heart of the deepening human rights crisis" is Iran's disregard for its international law obligations.
"We call on President Rouhani to immediately and unconditionally correct the gross violations documented by Special Rapporteur Shaheed," said E. Robert Goodkind, Chair of AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI).
"That includes immediately and unconditionally releasing all prisoners of conscience; and implementing extensive measures to end Iran's ongoing assault on the freedoms of expression, assembly, association, religion and the equal rights of women, and to stop the widespread use of torture, arbitrary arrests, detentions and unfair trials, including extensive due process violations."
While the Special Rapporteur welcomed President Rouhani's release of women's rights advocate and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and Rouhani's statements pledging improvements to Iran's egregious human rights record, Shaheed emphasized that real changes have not been implemented.
The Special Rapporteur reiterated his call for the release of "hundreds of other prisoners detained solely for exercising their freedom of expression, association and assembly," including 15 journalists arrested in January 2013, the largest mass arrest of journalists since 2009; at least 500 detained human rights defenders; the seven leaders of the Baha'i faith, Christians and members of other religious and ethnic minorities, among others. The Special Rapporteur further highlighted an increase in legal discrimination against religious minorities, including "an escalating pattern of systemic human rights violations targeting members of the Baha'i community."
The Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned about ongoing impunity for egregious human rights violations, including Iran's crackdown surrounding the 2009 presidential elections. Moreover, Iran's new penal code expands overly broad and vague national security laws that are often used to persecute prisoners of conscience, and retains the punishments of execution by stoning, amputation and crucifixion.
"It is vital that Iran allow the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran to visit the country, for the first time, with access to all persons, areas, and information necessary to allow the Special Rapporteur to investigate any asserted improvements to human rights," said Goodkind.
JBI has called for the unconditional release of Sotoudeh and all other Iranian prisoners of conscience. JBI and AJC's Westchester Regional Office also contributed to the successful international campaign for Sotoudeh to receive the prestigious European Parliament 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee