London, 25 Jul – The UK released a Human Rights Priority Country update report in which the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that in the last six months the human rights situation in Iran has only gotten worse.
The report based on the period January to June 2016 was published on July 21.
It states: “In many respects, the situation has worsened, despite President Rouhani pledging to improve the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Iran when he was elected.”
This includes the rising rate of executions and torture, with nearly 1,000 people murdered by the state last year, which was estimated by Amnesty International to be the high number in 25 years.
The report cites that at least 170 people have been executed so far in 2016, and uses the death penalty for crimes that are not recognised as “most serious” i.e. drugs offences.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) states that Iran consistently flouts the Convention on the Rights of the Child by pursuing the death penalty for minors.
The report highlights the crackdown on freedom of speech and of the press.
It said: “On freedom of expression, the crackdown on social media use came to a head in November 2015 when the cyber unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested over 170 individuals, accusing them of publishing “obscene” content on instant messaging mobile apps. Reports of some of the arrests cited “facilitating users’ access to obscene content via groups on mobile networks, publishing obscene Iranian and foreign content in text and visual format, encouraging people to commit offences, and publishing texts that insulted national figures”. After an investigation, 29 individuals were detained for further questioning and 8 have been arrested, awaiting trial.”
On freedom of religion, the report said: “Minority religions, and even non-Shi’a Muslims, face persecution, and harassment in Iran.”
The FCO report is concerned over the conditions in Iranian prisons; prisoners suffer extreme violence and sexual harassment and are often prevented from seeking medical care.
Iran is also detaining citizens with dual nationality; refusing consular assistance from the citizens’ second country.
The report said: “Hundreds of human rights defenders and political prisoners continue to be arrested and detained in Iran. Many have been arrested on vague political charges such as “propaganda against the regime”.
Gender inequality is also a big problem within Iran, and there are two major proposed bills currently making their way through the Iranian Parliament which aim to turn women into ‘baby-making machines’ and restrict Iranian women’s access to contraception by banning all contraceptive surgeries unless there is a risk to the woman’s life, and reduce funding for birth control programmes which use modern contraceptives.
The bills were drafted after Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded that Iran’s population be doubled, decrying family planning as a Western phenomenon.