London, 11 Mar – Iran is maneuvering with its allies at the U.N. Human Rights Council to block Western attempts to renew the mandate of a special investigator into Tehran’s human rights record – a man who has drawn contemptuous criticism from the regime for highlighting abuses, CNSNews.com reported on Friday.
For the past five years Ahmed Shaheed, a former foreign minister of the Maldives, has been an independent “special rapporteur” on the human rights situation in Iran, and over that period Tehran has denied multiple requests for him to visit the country.
At the HRC session now underway in Geneva, Shaheed is presenting a report that highlights abuses including a 20-year high in executions – almost 1,000 in 2015 – a “widening crackdown on freedom of expression and opinion,” and mistreatment of religious minorities such as Baha’i and Christian converts from Islam.
The council will debate the report on Monday, and then on March 24, the final day of the four-week session, Shaheed’s mandate will be up for renewal, CNSNews.com said.
Iran’s diplomats are urging allies to oppose an extension, even as Iranian human rights activists will visit next week to lobby in favor of it. Forty political prisoners in Iran have reportedly signed a letter calling for Shaheed’s mandate to be renewed.
Meanwhile the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) opposition group reports that 40 political prisoners in Iran in a letter to the HRC called for a mandate renewal, saying Shaheed’s work has had some impact inside the regime’s prisons.
“There have been many instances that prisoners have been summoned because of his reports and despite the insults and accusations, the issues [raised in the reports] have been considered to some extent,” the letter said. “This would not have been possible without his reports.”