London, 19 Sep – The Secretary General of Iran’s “human rights” council has attempted to hit back at comments by the UN regarding “fundamental problems” in regime’s judicial process, by defending the execution of prisoners including juveniles.
Mohammad Javad Larijani wrote an open letter to the UN Commissioner, dated September 16, in which he tried to justify the executions
He wrote: “It should be pointed out that the commitment to abolish the death penalty has not been accepted by the international community as a hard or soft commitment and there is no consensus in this regard.”
He continued: “Besides, the international covenant on civil and political rights does not completely rule out the death penalty. Rather, it even allows the member states to use it under certain conditions.”
Now, the UN’s opposition to the death penalty should be applied fairly, across all countries that use it, so in that – and that alone- Larijani made a good point. However, Iran currently has the highest execution rate per capita in the world.
He goes on to claim that the death penalty is “not a human rights issue”, despite the right to life and the right to freedom from torture being enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Zeyd Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addressed the 33rd session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, on September 13th.
He said: “Regarding the Islamic Republic, my office has not been allowed to have any kind of access from 2003… Our proposal to start technical talks about the death penalty has been, like other cooperation proposals, systematically ignored. This is unfortunate, especially considering the ongoing reports we receive on fundamental problems with the judicial administration of criminal justice, on the execution of so many people including juveniles, on prosecuting and discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, on harsh restrictions on human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and on discrimination against women both in law and in practice.”
He criticized the number of executions in Iran under the rule of the Mullahs while expressing concerns over the ongoing execution of juveniles.
Ra’ad Al Hussein said: “Some countries may shut down UN (human rights) offices or refuse to cooperate with the international inspectors, but they should know that they can never close our eyes to the truth. We keep trying our best so that our reports on these countries remain accurate.”