The first report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Iran emerged this weekend. Dated 23 September, the memorandum by Ahmed Shaheed drily declares that he is "presenting his proposed methodology and cataloguing the most recent trends in the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran".
The text of the report is more enlightening than this declaration, but it still cannot hide the limitations of the enquiry. Shaheed writes, "Owing to his late appointment [on 1 August], he would not be in a position to present a substantive report," but the greater obstacle has been the refusal of Iranian officials to let Shaheed enter the country. So the Special Rapporteur has only been able to collect information from activists and human rights observers outside Iran, unable to complement this with first-hand observation. He pleads:
The Special Rapporteur will...continue to appeal to the Islamic Republic of Iran to extend its full cooperation to the fulfilment of the mandate. Engagement with the country mandate holder can only lessen the potential for politicization, over which the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly expressed concern. However, insufficient cooperation will continue to heighten the concern of the international community and will reduce the potential for a positive and constructive dialogue on these issues.
The Conclusion of the Report:
75. The Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize his desire for constructive dialogue with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the international community and civil society. The Special Rapporteur looks forward to the challenging responsibility of this mandate and to positive outcomes in the field of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has identified a number of promising starting points for cooperation in the present report, notably in the implementation of the recommendations of the universal periodic review, treaty body observations and the findings of other special procedures mandate holders. He has also catalogued an increasing trend of alleged violations of the fundamental rights of the people, guaranteed under international law, and stresses the urgency for greater transparency from the Iranian authorities and closer engagement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international community in strengthening human rights safeguards for its citizens.
76. The Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to open greater space for the aforementioned groups of civil society actors to be able to carry out their work. He also wishes to stress the importance of freedom of expression and assembly for a democratic, open society governed by the rule of law, and encourages the Government to refrain from repressing dissent. The Special Rapporteur would also like to underscore the importance of perpetuating a culture of tolerance, and urges the Government to prevent discrimination against women, as well religious and ethnic minorities, in all spheres of public life and services, and to protect their freedoms to freely associate and express themselves.
77. The Special Rapporteur also remains concerned about the well-being and health of prisoners, especially those mentioned in the present report, and encourages the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to launch full investigations into those cases. He also requests that he be granted the ability to substantiate accounts raised here through access to both detention centres and those detained. The Special Rapporteur further requests that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran review those cases and furnish the Special Rapporteur with information that would enable him to report progress or developments in those matters to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. He also urges the Government to increase its cooperation with the special procedures, as this would create a productive space for further actions to improve the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
78. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran once again requests that he be allowed to visit that country in order to develop his dialogue with the authorities and either substantiate or lay to rest, allegations of human rights violations committed within its sovereign territory.
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