Iran Human RightsUK issues damning report on human rights abuses in...

UK issues damning report on human rights abuses in Iran

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Iran Focus: London, Jul. 24 – Britain issued a damning report on the human rights situation in Iran, stating that there had been “no significant progress” over the year, while human rights had “deteriorated further in many areas”. Iran Focus

London, Jul. 24 – Britain issued a damning report on the human rights situation in Iran, stating that there had been “no significant progress” over the year, while human rights had “deteriorated further in many areas”.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote in its Human Rights Annual Report 2005, released on July 21, that punishment of children in the Islamic Republic was an “area of concern”, adding, “We have received an increasing number of reports of juvenile offenders being sentenced to death or lashing. In several instances, these barbarous punishments have apparently been carried out. A 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, was reportedly hanged in public in August 2004 for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’”.

The FCO said that such punishments violated Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adding that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child had also made clear its concern earlier this year.

“Sadly, we continue to receive reports of juvenile offenders receiving death sentences and we have asked the Iranian authorities to look into them as a matter of urgency”, the report said.

“We remain concerned about the limits imposed on freedom of expression and assembly, the lack of freedom of religion and the extensive use of the death penalty”, it added.

The annual report went on to highlight the Islamic Republic’s abuse of the right to free speech. “Iran has not respected freedom of expression. The government is increasing its censorship of all the main media and particularly the internet. It has blocked many websites and weblogs that provide news or comment critical of the regime and has closed down a number of reformist newspapers. The authorities have arrested and imprisoned journalists, internet technicians and webloggers”.

“In late 2004 several webloggers claimed that they had been beaten, kept in solitary confinement and tortured. The government set up a presidential commission to investigate. A former vice-president of Iran said their testimonies had ‘made committee members weep’. Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, reportedly threatened those who gave evidence with lengthy prison sentences and harm to their family members”.

The report also said that Non-Governmental Organisations had come under pressure. “The authorities have intimidated and arrested activists and human rights defenders, including some when they returned from conferences overseas”.

Regarding the rights of women the United Kingdom’s annual report stated that discrimination was pervasive. “A woman’s testimony in court is worth half that of a man. Married women need their husband’s permission to get a passport and travel overseas”.

The UK will make human rights a priority issue in its relations with Iran during its Presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2005, the report added.

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