AFP: A UN committee on Wednesday sharply criticised human rights in Iran, citing the use of torture and a widespread crackdown on the country's media and political opposition. The UN General Assembly's social and humanitarian committee adopted the resolution, which carries symbolic value but no legal weight, for the second straight year in a 69-55 vote with 51 abstentions. AFP

UNITED NATIONS - A UN committee on Wednesday sharply criticised human rights in Iran, citing the use of torture and a widespread crackdown on the country's media and political opposition.

The UN General Assembly's social and humanitarian committee adopted the resolution, which carries symbolic value but no legal weight, for the second straight year in a 69-55 vote with 51 abstentions.

The resolution was sponsored by Canada, whose relations with Iran have taken a turn for the worse since Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi died while in custody in the Islamic republic last year.

The measure, co-sponsored by 33 other nations including Tehran's arch-foes Israel and the United States, stopped short of condemning Iran but said UN member states expressed "serious concern" over a long list of rights abuses.

It took aim at Iran's clerical regime for "the worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and expression" and the "targeted disqualification" of reformists in Iran's parliamentary elections.

Iran also continues to use "torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," including amputation, flogging and the execution of those under 18 years of age, the resolution said.

It added that reformists, religious dissidents and the political opposition were subject to "continuing persecution" and said Iran had failed to comply with international standards of justice and due process.

The resolution is expected to be adopted by the General Assembly proper -- which, like the committee, brings together all 191 UN member nations -- before the end of the year.