UN Special Rapporteur on Iran and former Maldives Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, has released an explosive report on human rights abuses in Iran.
Dr Shaheed, who was appointed Special Rapporteur in June 2011, reported that Iran had executed 670 people last year, 81 percent of them for minor drug offences that did not justify capital punishment under international law. 20 people were executed for offences against Islam, Dr Shaheed found, while a further 15 are awaiting death sentences for adultery.
Of these executions 421 were announced publicly, while 249 were performed in ‘secret’. Dr Shaheed expressed particular concern about the surge in executions in the last three months of 2011, from 200 in mid-September 2011 to over 600 by the end of the year – a six-fold increase on 2003.
Despite drug offences being the most frequently-cited reason for executions, Dr Shaheed told a press conference that there were “strong indications” that the arrests were political and drug charges added later.
Dr Shaheed found the Iran had not only executed more citizens per capita than any other country in the world, but had also detained the most number of journalists. 42 were current imprisoned, while a further 150 had fled since the 2009 election for fear of persecution. Journalists were also reportedly barred from appearing at their trials and were often informed of their sentences in prison.
The Iranian government refused to allow Dr Shaheed to visit the country in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur, describing him as “incompetent”. The report relied heavily on first-hand testimonies, “the preponderance of which presents a pattern of systemic violations of fundamental human rights,” it noted.
Head of Iran’s the parliamentary commission on human rights, Zohreh Elahian, said the report was based on “politically tainted objectives and politicisation.”
“As was clear in Ahmed Shaheed’s draft document, the report is biased and serves political objectives since he had visited a number of European states and had meetings with the opposition and anti-revolution forces living abroad,” Elahian said.
Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi told media that Dr Shaheed was “a US agent”.
“From the first day that Mr Ahmed Shaheed was appointed as the UN [human rights] rapporteur, we suspected he was a US agent; but after he published a few reports [on the rights situation in Iran], we became certain he had been sent on mission by the Americans,” Boroujerdi said.
Dr Shaheed’s mandate for the post was narrowly approved in a UN resolution despite the opposition of Cuba, China and Russia. He told journalists he hoped the mandate would be extended.
“One of the most important aspects of this mandate is its capacity to give voice to those that believe themselves to be silenced by fear and lack of recourse,” he said.