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Iran: Larijani Attacks UN Mechanisms, Calls Shaheed "Irrelevant"

Commentary by International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Shortly after Ban Ki-moon left Tehran, Iranian Human Rights Council head Mohammad Javad Larijani criticized the UN’s human rights mechanisms publicly, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, on Iran’s State TV. (read report by ISNA in Persian).

“Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, is an irrelevant and irresponsible individual,” Larijani said in TV interview on August 30.

Larijani’s remarks made it clear that Iranian officials are not prepared to allow UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed to enter the country.

The UN created the mandate for the Special Rapporteur in March 2011. Since then, Shaheed has released two in-depth reports about human rights violations in Iran, one in October 2011 and the other in March 2012, despite not having been allowed to enter the country.

Larijani and other high-ranking Iranian officials have repeatedly used Shaheed’s lack of access to Iran-access which they themselves have denied-as a reason to discredit his reporting on the numerous human rights violations in the country. “Ahmed Shaheed leveling 2,000 accusations against Iran is a sign of the falsehood of these claims.... [I]f he were to review all these accusations, he would have to spend 2,000 days in Iran,” Larijani claimed he told the Secretary-General. Although he has not been able to enter the country, Shaheed has conducted scores of interviews with firsthand witnesses and victims of human rights violations for his reports.

The Secretary-General’s office has not reacted to Larijani’s remarks about their meeting in Tehran. Before leaving, the Secretary-General told an audience at the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s School of International Relations that he “urge[d] Iran to strengthen cooperation with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, in particular the Special Rapporteur,” and that he had “discussed this matter with [Iran’s] leadership,” but gave no further details.

Relating the details of his meeting with the Secretary-General, Larijani quoted himself as saying, “[W]e believe that in the area of human rights, the United Nations is used inappropriately.” He added, “The UN General Assembly resolutions against Iran are wrong.”

UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed has recently delivered a draft of his third report to Iranian officials. Prior to the release of each report, Shaheed has delivered drafts requesting comment from Iranian officials. In each instance, official responses have barely referred to any of the specific cases enumerated in the report. Instead, Iranian officials have attacked the methodology of the reporting, the motives behind the UN’s creation of a country-specific special mandate, and the character of the Special Rapporteur himself.

“Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, is an irrelevant and irresponsible individual,” Larijani said in ISNA’s August 31 report. Earlier this year, when Shaheed was presenting his second report on the situation of human rights in Iran to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 , Larijani’s response used such offensive language the chair of the meeting felt compelled to interrupt him.

Prior to Ban Ki-moon’s departure from New York the last week of August, hundreds of Iranian human rights activists asked him to address human rights issues with Iranian leaders. Many Iranian activists reacted positively to the news that he had mentioned them during his visit.

The Secretary-General has not publicly discussed the content of any of the meetings he held while in Tehran. He has not announced any assurances from Iranian officials that Iran will cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, nor that they will adhere to any specific timeframe in relation to policy changes or the release of their numerous political prisoners. Larijani’s statements signal that it is very unlikely that Iranian officials change their policy of noncooperation with UN human rights mechanisms.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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