Special Rapporteur on Iran human rights reinstated for sixth year

The UN Human Rights Council extended Dr. Shaheed’s mandate with 20 votes in support, 15 votes against and 11 abstentions. This is the sixth successive year that Ahmed Shaheed has been appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur to monitor human rights in Iran. 

While expressing sadness for Iran’s failure to cooperate with the demands of the Human Rights Council and the Assembly, the resolution presented by 39 countries expressed its serious concern about the situation of human rights in Iran. The resolution also asked Iran to fully cooperate with Shaheed in the future, noting that it has so far refused to allow him to visit the country or communicate openly with its citizens. 

The latest report by Mr. Shaheed referred to the continued violation of human rights, a dramatic rise in the number of executions, and  the continued execution of juvenile offenders under the Rouhani presidency. The Iranian regime responded by expressing its opposition to the appointment of the Rapporteur. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the head of the Iranian regime’s ‘Human Rights Council’ said in an interview with Iranian TV, “We do not accept the appointment of a Special Rapporteur for our country, because Iran is the largest and most serious democracy in western Asia, where no other country has a similar civil and political structure from the point of democratic mechanism .”

It is worth noting that Dr. Shaheed, in his recent report, had referred to 47 imprisoned journalists and bloggers, and hundreds of human rights advocates who are currently in prison.  He also reiterated that there has been no dramatic change in the human rights situation in Iran since 2013, when Hassan Rouhani was elected to the presidency and embraced by some Western policymakers as a “moderate.” 

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Council on March 7, 2016, Iranian political prisoners expressed support for the extension of Dr. Shaheed’s mandate. The letter was signed by 40 political prisoners in various prisons and read in part, “Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has been one of the most active rapporteurs, and we have clearly observed the impacts of his reports on the situation of prisons; in fact there has been almost no instance of major violation of human rights in prisons that has not been reflected in his reports.”