Iran Uses Punitive Law to Keep Population in Line, UN Says

VOA     |     By Lisa Schlein     |     June 23, 2021

A new report by the U.N. secretary-general on the human rights situation in Iran condemns the widespread use of punitive measures and state-sponsored violence to keep the population in line. Michelle Bachelet, the world body’s high commissioner for human rights, presented the report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The report finds Iran’s slumping economy, deteriorating living standards, and increased social and political strains arising from the COVID-19 pandemic are fueling public discontent and protests.

Despite these problems, the report says authorities show no willingness to adopt meaningful reforms or react compassionately to situations arising from this crisis. The secretary-general’s report indicates the government is remaining firm and applying harsher punitive controls.

Bachelet noted, for example, that Iran continues the widespread use of the death penalty for acts that under international law do not constitute “most serious crimes.”

“In violation of human rights law, death sentences are also frequently imposed based on forced confessions extracted through torture or after serious violations of the right to a fair trial. In 2020, at least 267 people, including nine women, were executed, but only 91 of these executions were announced,” Bachelet said.

So far this year, she said at least 95 people have been executed, six of them women. She added that more than 80 minors are on death row, with at least four at risk of imminent execution.

The report notes ethnic, religious, and other minorities are at particular risk of abuse, forced disappearances, and executions. Bachelet said the report documents the inappropriate use of force by security agents against protesters and bystanders, as well as the intimidation, arbitrary detention, and criminal prosecution of human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists.

“To date, there has been no accountability for any of the gross human rights violations committed by security forces in response to protests…Persistent impunity for human rights violations remains a crucial concern,” Bachelet said.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, Esmaeil Hamaneh, dismissed the report, calling it politicized, prejudicial and full of baseless allegations.

“The report presented today is based on an entirely political mandate initiated by a group of like-minded or rather similarly biased countries that have for long instrumentalized human rights as part of their adversarial agenda against Iran,” Hamaheh said.

The ambassador added that Iran is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Iran Uses Punitive Law to Keep Population in Line, UN Says