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UN expert starts probing rights violations in Iran through diaspora in Europe

GENEVA (29 November 2011) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, will launch a fact-finding mission to three European countries which host Iranian diaspora. Mr. Shaheed will visit France, Germany and Belgium from 30 November - 8 December 2011 to gather information about alleged human rights violations in Iran.

Since his appointment in August 2011, the independent expert has made official requests to the Islamic Republic of Iran for a country visit, without obtaining a positive response from the authorities. He has also encouraged the Government to extend its full cooperation with his mandate as required by the UN Human Rights Council.

“I will continue to make every possible effort to get the Iranian authorities’ support,” Mr. Shaheed said. “A country visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran would have allowed me to gain better understanding of the situation in the country, explore possible areas of cooperation, offer constructive dialogue with the authorities and produce report that reflect the views of all parties concerned, not the least the views of the Government.”

“However, in my first mission as Special Rapporteur on Iran, I will now study wide range of human rights issues by meeting activists within Iranian diaspora, alleged victims of human rights violations, intergovernmental and civil society organizations,” he explained. “The information collected in France, Germany and Belgium will help shape my report to the Human Rights Council in March 2012.”

The human rights expert will hold a press conference on Thursday 8 December 2011 at 10:30 at the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) office in Brussels.

Ahmed Shaheed is a Visiting Lecturer at the Maldives National University, a member of the presidential Commission Investigating Corruption and a former foreign policy advisor to the President of the Maldives. Mr Shaheed was Foreign Minister of the Maldives from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010. He led the country’s efforts to sign and ratify all nine international human rights Conventions and to implement them in law and practice. He has worked to improve the Maldives’ compliance with the core human rights Conventions and its Treaty Body reporting obligations. Mr Shaheed opened the Permanent Mission of the Maldives in Geneva in 2006 to engage with the Human Rights Council. He also established a non-governmental organisation in the area of human rights in the Maldives. On June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council appointed Mr Shaheed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. He started his duties officially on 1 August 2011. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Iran: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IRIndex.aspx

For additional information and press inquiries, please contact Naveed Ahmed (Tel. +41 22 928 9477 / email: nahmed@ohchr.org) or Rose Parris Richter (Tel. +1 917 226 4551/ email: srhumanrights@gmail.com) or Jean-Luc Onckelinx, UNRIC Brussels, (+32 2 788 84 54 / onckelinx@unric.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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