NewsSpecial WireUK Foreign Office rips human rights violations in Iran

UK Foreign Office rips human rights violations in Iran

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Iran Focus: London, Mar. 26 – The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has accused the Iranian authorities of committing “serious” human rights abuses. Iran Focus

London, Mar. 26 – The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has accused the Iranian authorities of committing “serious” human rights abuses.

“Serious human rights violations have continued and there has been significant deterioration in some of our main areas of concern, including a worrying and rapid increase in the rate of executions”, said the Foreign Office’s Human Rights Annual Report 2007 released on Tuesday.

“Against a global decreasing trend in the use of the death penalty, the total number of executions in Iran is increasing year on year. Iran remains second only to China (whose population is over 15 times the size of Iran’s) in terms of total number of executions”, it said. “There have been approximately 300 executions in 2007, including the execution of at least four juvenile offenders”.

“In clear breach of its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is one of very few countries in the world that still applies the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. There are reports of juveniles being kept in prison until they turn 18, when the sentence can be carried out. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, over 70 juvenile offenders remain on death row in Iran. We are deeply concerned by this practice and have made representations in several cases”, the report said, adding, “We are also concerned by the way in which executions are carried out. More executions are taking place in public – in August 2007, two convicts were hanged in a busy street in central Tehran. There has also been an increase in collective executions – up to 21 individuals at a time”.

“Cruel and inhuman criminal punishments such as flogging, stoning and amputation remain on the statute books. Despite the announcement of moratoria on stoning and amputation, both punishments reappeared in 2007. Amputation sentences have been carried out on at least seven people found guilty of robbery in Mashhad, Zahedan and Kermanshah. The head of Kermanshah’s Justice Office made a statement confirming that one of the sentences had taken place. He defended the use of amputation as a punishment, saying, ‘If thieves do not want their hands to be amputated then they must stop stealing.’ Prisoners are often subjected to long periods of solitary confinement and denied medical care, and reports of torture taking place during the course of criminal investigations are frequent.

“As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government face international pressure over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and internal criticism for their economic mismanagement and other policies, paranoia has grown within the Iranian government about the threat that media and civil society organisations might pose to the integrity of the Islamic Republic. This, in turn, has resulted in further restrictions on freedom of expression and association, and clampdowns on any form of dissent, opposition or organised protest”, it said.

“Charges such as ‘propaganda against the Islamic Republic’, ‘acting against national security’ and ‘organising illegal gatherings’ have become increasingly common.

“An improvement in the situation looks unlikely in the current political context”, the report said.

The report listed Iran among 21 “major countries of concern”, which included China, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe.

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