U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS BODY APPROVES INVESTIGATOR ON IRAN
March 24, 2011: The U.N. Human Rights Council established a special investigator on Iran, a move spearheaded by Washington that will subject Tehran's record to U.N. scrutiny for the first time in nearly a decade.
Activists welcomed the move as historic, underlining the need for a focused investigation into widespread allegations of abuse, including arrests of political opponents and torture.
The 47-member forum, overcoming Iran's objections to a resolution brought by Sweden and the United States, approved it by 22 votes in favor, 7 against and 14 abstentions.
This is the first special rapporteur on a specific country that the U.N. Human Rights Council has set up since its creation nearly five years ago.
Britain, France and the United States were among those approving, joined by Brazil for the first time in years. China and Russia were among those rejecting the text.
The Human Rights Council voiced concern at Iran's crackdown on opposition figures and increased use of the death penalty, and called on the Islamic Republic to cooperate with the U.N. envoy to be named to the independent post.
U.N. officials and diplomats say Iran has not allowed U.N. human rights experts to visit since 2005, when hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president, defeating the relatively moderate Mohammad Khatami.
Even if the new rapporteur is not allowed into Iran, he would still be expected to contact the government frequently about allegations and produce an annual report incorporating testimony from activists and alleged victims of abuse.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said this month Iran had intensified its crackdown on opponents and executions of drug traffickers, political prisoners and juvenile criminals.
In a report, he also cited cases of amputations, floggings and the continued sentencing of men and women to death by stoning for alleged adultery.
The now defunct U.N. Human Rights Commission had special rapporteurs on Iran from 1984 to 2002. (Sources: Reuters, 24/03/2011)