By Patrick Disney, NIACWashington, DC - Iran has taken a number of positive steps toward improved economic, social, and political rights, but widespread human rights violations continue and Iranian officials must do more to meet international standards, according to a recent United Nations report.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a report to the General Assembly released this week, praised Iran's progress in areas such as education, development, and political activism, while continuing to denounce Iran's torture, detention, and execution practices. "The past year has seen both positive and negative developments in the area of civil and political rights," the report says. "During past years, a public platform was created for debates on human rights issues in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including in the context of general elections."
Despite some gains, however, the human rights situation in Iran remains bleak. "Some negative trends have also been reported, including an increase in rights violations targeting women, university students, teachers, workers and other activist groups."
According to the report, Iran continues to violate international standards against torture, corporal punishment, amputations, and juvenile executions. "There were at least some cases of stoning and public execution, despite moves by the authorities to curb such practices," it noted.
Just this week, state media outlets reported that the practice of juvenile executions would be halted, with current death sentences for juveniles being commuted to life with the possibility for parole. But the report soberly acknowledges that "the moratorium is not legally binding for judges...and cases of execution of juveniles continue to be reported."
Additional areas of concern noted by the Secretary General include: women's rights and gender-based violence, rights of minorities (especially religious minorities such as Baha'is), freedom of expression and assembly, due process and the rights of detainees, and cruel and unusual punishment. Among the report's sober assessments, Mr. Ban repeatedly points to proposals currently being considered by the parliament as a sign of eventual improvements. Despite these efforts, however, he gravely acknowledges that such proposals have little chance of enacting true reforms due to Tehran's unyielding legal framework.
The report caps a difficult week for Iran at the UN; on Friday the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly against Iran's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council. Japan was elected to the influential seat by a vote of 158-32.
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