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Tehran Aims to Eliminate UN Human Rights Rapporteur Position

Asma Jahangir
Asma Jahangir

In a direct attack on the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, a top judiciary official has said that Tehran’s ultimate goal is to eliminate that position.

The deputy for international affairs of the judiciary’s human rights headquarters, Kazem Gharibabadi, said Tehran is also attempting to scrap all human rights related resolutions against Iran.

Gharib-Abadi outlined the judiciary’s strategy more than two weeks after the UN overwhelmingly approved a draft resolution condemning Iran’s human rights record.

The draft resolution, titled "Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran," was ratified by the UN's Third Committee with 83 yes votes, 30 no votes, and 68 abstentions.

U.N. voting record on Iran's human rights resolution, Nov. 14, 2017
U.N. voting record on Iran's human rights resolution, Nov. 14, 2017

Gharibabadi did not elaborate how Iran intends to achieve its goals of eliminating the special rapporteur’s position, as well as all human rights resolutions critical of Iran.

The resolution, sponsored by Canada, expressed serious concern at the "alarmingly high frequency" of the imposition of the death penalty, including against minors and on the basis of forced confessions.

It called "upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to launch a comprehensive accountability process in response to all cases of serious human rights violations, including those involving the Iranian judiciary and security agencies, and calls upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to end impunity for such violations."

Eshagh Al-e-Habib, the deputy Iranian permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, bitterly attacked the non-binding resolution a day later, on November 15.

However, instead of directly responding to the charges, Al-e-Habib chose to attack Canada, describing its sponsorship of the resolution "an insult to human rights."

"Canada hires and supports good terrorists to carry out outrageous violations of human rights aimed at destabilizing governments that it shamelessly calls rogue," said Al-e-Habib.

U.N. General Asembly's Third Committee in session.
U.N. General Asembly's Third Committee in session.

On March 24, 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution re-establishing the mandate of a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The previous mandate established by the Commission on Human Rights was terminated in 2002.

On September 30, 2016, the president of the Human Rights Council appointed Asma Jahangir, a prominent lawyer from Pakistan, as the new special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.

Jahangir officially assumed responsibility for the mandate on November 1, 2016. The previous mandate holder, Ahmed Shaheed, former foreign affairs minister of the Maldives, held this mandate from June 2011 to September 2016, UN Human Rights reported.

From the beginning, the Islamic Republic was opposed to her appointment and to the existence of the special rapporteur position.

Jahangir presented her first report to the Human Rights Council on March 13. Her second semi-annual report was presented in late October to the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee, where a draft resolution based on it was ratified on November 14.

However, Iran has accused Jahangir of bribery and being biased against Iran.

Furthermore, Tehran has repeatedly condemned the UN special rapporteur’s reports on Iran as politically motivated.

UN special rapporteurs on human rights in Iran have repeatedly called upon Tehran to let them visit the country and study the human rights situation there in person. Tehran has always denied them entry visas.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iranian judiciary's human rights deputy. File photo
Kazem Gharibabadi, Iranian judiciary's human rights deputy. File photo

Meanwhile, the government’s official news agency, IRNA, maintained in early 2016 that Saudi Arabia had called upon Jahangir to receive $200,000 from Riyadh for secretly visiting Iran and taking an anti-Iran stance.

The accusation was categorically dismissed and derided by Jahangir.

Nevertheless, Iranian officials have never stopped attacking the Pakistani lawyer, as they used to attack the previous rapporteur.

Insisting that Tehran does not recognize Jahangir’s report, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said, “Unfortunately, the special rapporteur seems to have turned a blind eye to the multiple cases of human rights advances in Iran and tried to display a gloomy and one-sided image of the status of human rights in Iran with the repeated use of vague phrases and expression of unreasonable concern on the basis of inauthentic data.”

In her latest report, however, Jahangir did mention areas in which she believed Iran had made progress.

Furthermore, Gharibabadi said on November 29 that the EU uses human rights as an instrument to impose pressure on Tehran.

Tehran is ready to hold talks on human rights issues with the EU, provided the Europeans support Iran’s position on human rights, Gharibabadi told the IRGC-run news agency, Tasnim.

European countries, including France and Germany, have long protested Iran’s violations of human rights.

Iran and China are at the top of the list of countries with the highest number of executions in the world, while Reporters Without Borders has listed Iran as one of the largest prisons of the world for journalists.