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Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan, Angola and Iran

Human Rights Council 
MORNING

19 March 2015

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan, Angola and Iran. 

Elvira Azimova, Deputy Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan, underlined the importance of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism in supporting Kazakhstan’s democratic reforms.  She informed that new measures would strengthen the prohibition of torture and underlined her country’s efforts and initiatives to combat corruption, ensure public access to information and promote children’s rights.  Kazakhstan had made excellent progress in eradicating poverty and improving living standards, and would continue working on human development and the rule of law.

In the discussion, speakers welcomed Kazakhstan’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and its efforts to implement recommendations made during its first cycle.  Speakers commended Kazakhstan’s establishment of a mechanism to prevent torture and of a national human rights institution.  Speakers shared concerns about legal restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and on the work of human rights defenders.    

Speaking in the discussion were Pakistan, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia and Sierra Leone.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Lawyers for Lawyers, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, United Nations Watch, British Humanist Association, World Evangelical Alliance and Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan.

Rui Jorge Caneiro Mangueira, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Angola, said recommendations made during the review of Angola would contribute to the reinforcement of its national mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Most of these recommendations were already being implemented.  Angola was committed to continue cooperating with human rights mechanisms.  It attached great importance to freedom of expression, and underlined that its provisions on defamation were compliant with international standards.   

In the discussion, speakers welcomed Angola’s progress on the consolidation of democracy and the protection of human rights.  They commended Angola’s efforts for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and in improving the rights of the child, access to education and combatting poverty.  Some speakers regretted that Angola had rejected the recommendations to refrain from using criminal defamation laws to restrict the right to freedom of expression. 

Speaking in the discussion were China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Sri Lanka. 

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Amnesty International, Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme and Lutheran World Federation.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Angola.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Deputy Secretary-General for the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, said that Iran had participated in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review with a constructive approach and willingness to embrace the recommendations it had received.  Iran did not accept the recommendations that contradicted its international commitments or infringed on the constitutional laws and regulations.  Iran had strengthened its cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and bodies. 

In the discussion, speakers welcomed Iran’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and other human rights mechanisms and bodies, and commended Iran’s efforts for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.  Speakers called on Iran to further its efforts to protect and empower women.  Speakers expressed concerns about the use of the death penalty in Iran which did not comply with international standards.  They also expressed concerns about restrictions on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly and the situation of ethnic and religious minorities.

Speaking in the discussion were Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Algeria and Armenia. 

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Lawyers for Lawyers, Bahai International Community, Sudwind, Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Federation International des Federations des Droits de l’Homme, Article 19, Prevention Association of Social Harms, Women’s Human Rights International Association and Advocates for Human Rights.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Iran.

The Human Rights Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  At noon, it will hold a panel discussion on national policies and human rights, before considering in its afternoon meeting the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Iraq, Madagascar and Slovenia.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Kazakhstan (A/HRC/28/10)

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan

ELVIRA AZIMOVA, Deputy Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan, underlined the importance of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism in supporting Kazakhstan’s democratic reforms.  Kazakhstan had received 194 recommendations, out of which 143 were adopted.  Forty-seven were considered to be fulfilled and 96 were currently being implemented.  Fifty-one recommendations did not match the State’s policy or were factually incorrect.  A new criminal law had strengthened the prohibition of torture and legal remedy.  Kazakhstan was committed to study the possibility to access the Rome Statute.  Kazakhstan had completed the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The anti-corruption strategy was being implemented.  Kazakhstan had developed a law on public access to information, and was drafting a law on self-regulation by civil society.  Kazakhstan was considering a draft new criminal procedure code to strengthen guarantees for justice and an extrajudicial mechanism for settling disputes.  Taking care of youth and strengthening their participation in public life was a priority.  Kazakhstan had taken measures to ensure access to education, and for the creation of an ombudsman on the rights of the child.  Kazakhstan had made excellent progress on eradicating poverty and improving living standards.  It would continue working on human development and the rule of law, in accordance with its international commitments.  

Pakistan appreciated the acceptance by Kazakhstan of the majority of the recommendations, including those made by Pakistan, and valued its engagement with human rights machinery.  The adoption of legislative and policy measures and the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles were evidence of Kazakhstan’s commitment to human rights.

Russia noted with satisfaction Kazakhstan’s acceptance of the majority of the recommendations and its constructive approach during the Universal Periodic Review procedure, which demonstrated the country’s commitment to improving its human rights protection system.

Sri Lanka appreciated the spirit of constructive engagement demonstrated by Kazakhstan and the emphasis placed on poverty eradication, health and education, and encouraged measures to effectively protect children’s rights and their well-being, including protection from child labour.

Tajikistan said that Kazakhstan had done considerable work to comply with its international commitments and appreciated its readiness to cooperate with international human rights institutions.  Tajikistan welcomed the establishment of the national human rights institution, and the progress made in inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony.

United Kingdom remained concerned that the Criminal Procedure Code did not adequately address the balance of power between prosecutors and defence lawyers and was ready to provide support to Kazakhstan in the process of legal reform.  Better resourcing of the Office of the Ombudsman and the national human rights commission would assist with the drafting and implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights 2014-2020.

United States welcomed Kazakhstan’s commitment to the protection of human rights, and the establishment of a mechanism to prevent torture.  It noted with concern that Kazakhstan did not accept the recommendation to create space for civil society, and urged it to prevent the negative impact of its laws on the exercise of freedoms of expression and association. 

Uzbekistan welcomed Kazakhstan’s constructive participation and approach to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and that it had accepted recommendations to strengthen the State’s policies in the field of human rights. 

Venezuela welcomed Kazakhstan’s constructive participation and approach to the Universal Periodic Review and the detailed replies provided, including on its health system.  Venezuela welcomed Kazakhstan’s efforts to implement the recommendations made during its first Universal Periodic Review. 

Afghanistan commended Kazakhstan for constructively engaging with the Universal Periodic Review, and its commitment to promote and protect human rights and to strengthen the use of modern technologies. 

Belarus noted the responsible approach of Kazakhstan in its interaction with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  The adoption of the majority of the recommendations was evidence of Kazakhstan’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Brunei Darussalam commended the commitment of Kazakhstan to the promotion and protection of women’s rights, economic development, increasing employment opportunities, and protecting the environment.

China appreciated the acceptance of the recommendation to continue to maintain harmony and tolerance between different religions and ethnicities and share the experience with other States.  Harmony and tolerance were a prerequisite for the enjoyment of human rights for all in a multi-racial and multi-ethnic country.

Cuba welcomed Kazakhstan’s long-term view on combatting unemployment, particularly for youth, and took positive note of the increase in the education budget and the focus on the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. 

Ethiopia commended Kazakhstan’s acceptance of most of the recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review, and welcomed its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Iran commended the active participation of Kazakhstan in the Universal Periodic Review and its implementation of recommendations made during the first cycle.  Iran welcomed the adoption of the national plan in support of persons with disabilities and progress made in combatting trafficking.  Iran also welcomed the establishment of a mechanism to prevent torture. 

Kuwait commended the active participation of Kazakhstan in the Universal Periodic Review and progress achieved since the first cycle.  Kuwait welcomed the acceptance of its recommendations on the juvenile justice system, and commended Kazakhstan’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Malaysia commended Kazakhstan’s efforts to implement the recommendations made during its first Universal Periodic Review, and its efforts in strengthening its domestic legislation to ensure the advancement of women’s and children’s rights.

Sierra Leone encouraged Kazakhstan to accept its recommendation to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families as well as the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty. 

Lawyers for Lawyers in a joint statement with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada called on Kazakhstan to speed up the implementation of the recommendations and to address the dominant role played by prosecutors in legal proceedings.  It was regrettable that human rights defenders and lawyers could not freely practice their peaceful activities without fear of reprisals.

Article 19 – International Centre against Censorship said that Kazakhstan was actively restricting the right to freedom of expression, and expressed concern about the provisions of the new Criminal Code, which had come into force on 1 January 2015, providing up to five years imprisonment for insulting the President. 

Human Rights Watch said that the rights record of Kazakhstan had declined with the crack down on free speech and peaceful dissent, imprisoning Government critics and tightening control over freedom of association.  Kazakhstan should engage in a meaningful legal reform and end impunity for torture.

Amnesty International encouraged authorities to fully realize the 47 recommendations that Kazakhstan maintained to have already implemented.  It urged Kazakhstan to take immediate steps to strengthen safeguards against torture, including establishing an effective and impartial investigations mechanism, strengthening the work of the national preventive mechanism, and complying with the principle of non-refoulement. 

United Nations Watch was concerned about the human rights situation, the silencing of the media and the restrictions on civil society.  It was also concerned that the recommendations on freedom of assembly, expression and religion had been rejected.  Kazakhstan should investigate all allegations of torture. 

British Humanist Association regretted Kazakhstan’s refusal to adopt recommendations on freedoms of assembly and religion.  Non-traditional and minority groups suffered from the lack of definition in the 2005 and 2011 religious laws, and the new Criminal Code.  State control took precedence over de facto freedom of religion or belief. 

World Evangelical Alliance said a climate of fear still affected religious minorities in Kazakhstan.  The practice of religious freedom could not depend on an administrative decision to recognize or not one community.  Punishing participation in religious activities that were not recognized by the State was a violation of international human rights law. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme welcomed Kazakhstan’s continued cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and measures taken to combat violence against women.  It welcomed the launch of interface and interethnic dialogues in Astana. 

The President of the Council said that Kazakhstan had received 194 recommendations, accepted 144 and noted 50.

Closing Remarks
 
ELVIRA AZIMOVA, Deputy Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan, said that the right to freedom of opinion and expression was an inalienable right in Kazakhstan and stressed that legislation on the matter would be examined in keeping with national interests.  On the balance between State prosecutors and defence lawyers in criminal proceeding, Ms. Azimova said that Kazakhstan was undergoing a legal reform which would address this issue and invited non-governmental organizations to look at existing national legislation on the issue.  Kazakhstan intended to continue its cooperation with civil society and the international community and was interested in continuing dialogue with the Human Rights Council Special Procedures.  It was in the interest of the nation to strengthen its justice system and the institutions, which were all a guarantee of freedom and prosperity.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Angola (A/HRC/28/11)

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Angola

RUI JORGE CANEIRO MANGUEIRA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Angola, stated that during the interactive dialogue, 101 States had made statements and formulated 226 recommendations, of which 192 had been adopted and 34 considered.  The recommendations formulated had been generally related to the ratification of human rights mechanisms, guarantee of legal equality and non-discrimination, access to social security, quality of life, development, health, education, rights of migrants, and other related human rights issues.  These were very valuable and constructive and would contribute largely to the reinforcement of the national mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights.  Indeed, most of them were already being implemented through the many government programmes underway.  In terms of the 34 pending recommendations, the Government of Angola clarified that the Ombudsman Office was in fact the national human rights institution, in accordance with the Paris Principles, because of its public and independent character.  The objectives of the Ombudsman office were the defence of rights, liberties, and guarantees of the citizens through informal means. 

Regarding the standing invitation to all Special Rapporteurs to visit Angola, Mr. Mangueira stated that Angola was committed to the reinforcement of cooperation with international human rights mechanisms, and reminded that in the last few years, the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, and on freedom of religion and belief had been invited, as well as the Working Group on arbitrary detention.  Angola had also welcomed the visits of two High Commissioners for Human Rights, and was expecting the visit of the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights of migrants and on adequate housing.  These invitations would be extended this year.  Concerning the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Partnership, the Government was considering joining it, and the President had signed an executive order creating a working group to evaluate this possibility.  In relation to the ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Angola was evaluating its obligations for ratification.  The same was true for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  With regards to the decriminalization of defamation and related offenses, the Government believed that freedom of expression was a fundamental right. 

China commended Angola for the achievements made in the implementation of the recommendations from its previous Universal Periodic Review cycle and the acceptance of most of the recommendations from the second cycle, including those made by China concerning the eradication of poverty. 

Côte d’Ivoire thanked Angola for its attention to the recommendations made during the Review and welcomed the measures taken to guarantee civil and political rights.  Angola should step up efforts to guarantee freedom of expression and the participation of civil society, as well as gender equality and the protection of children.

Cuba said that there was a historic link between Cuba and Angola, and praised the actions taken to improve the rights of the child, access to education and to combat poverty.  Cuba thanked Angola for accepting Cuba’s recommendations concerning the consolidated national development plan “Angola 2025” and the fight against poverty.

Djibouti welcomed Angola’s commitment to strengthen and protect human rights, and encouraged it to continue its efforts. 

Equatorial Guinea said Angola had made considerable progress at the constitutional and legal levels, and welcomed Angola’s commitment to the implementation of human rights recommendations and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

Ethiopia welcomed Angola’s achievements in the field of human rights, children and women’s rights, freedom of expression and combatting harmful practices.  It welcomed the establishment of a mechanism to monitor and implement recommendations from international human rights mechanisms. 

Gabon welcomed the commitment of Angola to implement the recommendations it had adopted during its second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and noted the efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country, including the adoption of measures to combat corruption and trafficking in persons.

Ghana said that Angola was on the right path and its commitment to the implementation of the recommendations would go a long way in enhancing its development agenda and solidifying the promotion and protection of human rights.  Angola should ratify or accede to various other international human rights instruments.

Kuwait commended Angola’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The Constitution gave clear attention to human rights and fundamental freedoms as prescribed by international instruments.  Kuwait also commended the plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic commended Angola’s efforts to strengthen the national system for the promotion and protection of human rights, including ongoing justice reform, and to create conditions for all people to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.  It welcomed progress made in combating violence against women and children, and promoting gender equality and the rights of persons with disabilities.

Norway commended Angola for creating an inter-ministerial committee to consider partnership with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  Norway had given recommendations relevant to the freedom of press, the working environment for civil society, and the fight against child mortality.  It looked forward to continuing fruitful cooperation with Angola.  

Portugal recommended Angola’s accession to the Optional Protocols of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  It also welcomed the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman and the efforts to eliminate corporal punishment. 

Russian Federation welcomed Angola’s cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and its acceptance of most of the recommendations made during its Universal Periodic Review. 

Sierra Leone welcomed the adoption of many recommendations by Angola, including those relating to its national human rights institution.  Sierra Leone urged Angola to create a viable environment which would enable it to issue a standing invitation to all Special Procedures. 

South Africa welcomed positive developments in Angola, as well as its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review.  South Africa welcomed progress in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and the establishment of a National Plan of Development.  

Sri Lanka recognized the commitment of Angola to promote and protect human rights in the country through a series of measures, including its new 2010 Constitution, and the establishment of justice and law reform to improve access to justice.  Sri Lanka was sensitive to the challenges Angola faced as a result of the protracted conflict and said it would be useful to obtain the support of the international community in this regard.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said that Angola had made some laudable commitments, but they seemed hollow and did not match the reality for many Angolans.  Angola should move beyond empty rhetoric and allow human rights defenders and civil society to conduct their work without fear of reprisals.

Amnesty International regretted that Angola had rejected the recommendations to refrain from using criminal defamation laws to restrict the right to freedom of expression, and urged Angola to respect the law and allow peaceful demonstrations to take place.  Angola should repeal the criminal defamation law.

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme deplored the stigmatization, sex crimes, witchcraft accusations, and discrimination against migrants from West Africa and the Congo. It urged the Government to create a favourable society that enhanced freedom of expression and the rights of religious minorities. 

Lutheran World Federation stated that since the end of the war, the Government had been implementing a programme to build up the infrastructure, but its implementation did not comply with the housing rights of citizens.   From 29 May to 4 June 2013, 3,000 families living in Luanda had been evicted without the provision of alternative housing. 

The President of the Council said that Angola had received 226 recommendations, accepted 192 and noted 34.

Concluding Remarks
 
RUI JORGE CARNEIRO MANGUEIRA, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Angola, thanked those who had made recommendations and observations to Angola.  The Government would continue to work hand in hand with United Nations human rights bodies with a view to continue the implementation of the recommendations.  Freedom of expression was guaranteed under the constitution of Angola, and protected all citizens’ reputations.  The judicial institutions only could decide under what condition a situation of defamation could be prosecuted.  This was a judicial power, and the executive branch could not interfere.  Angola attached high importance to freedom of assembly and demonstration, and there had been no restrictions on this right.  This right, however, could not be used for violent acts.  Police forces were required to protect the population and any excess by them were subjected to investigations and penalties had been pronounced.  Angola was enjoying sustainable peace and development, which attracted migrants to the country.  Very clear legislation and provisions were in place to protect the rights of migrants and allow them to work and co-exist in Angola.  There were considerable movements of citizens inside the country, and most of the large cities had seen their population increasing, which created difficulties for the Government to control the safety of settlements, and obliged it to move people to safer areas. 

The Council then adopted the outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Angola.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review - Iran (A/HRC/28/12)

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Iran

KAZEM GHARIBABADI, Deputy Secretary-General for the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, said that Iran had participated in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review with a constructive approach and great willingness to consider the recommendations it had received.  Of the 291 recommendations received, Iran had accepted 189 entirely or partially.  A considerable number of accepted recommendations had already been implemented or were in the process of implementation.  The decision not to accept certain recommendations was because they contradicted Iran’s international commitments or infringed on constitutional laws and regulations.  In addition to cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review, Iran had initiated a new round of interaction with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and had invited the High Commissioner to visit the country.  Seven thematic Rapporteurs had already visited Iran, one invitation for a visit had been extended in 2015, and Iran would extend another to a thematic Rapporteur.  Iran had responded adequately to communications issued by the Special Procedures, including to issues raised by the Special Rapporteur on Iran. 

Turning to issues raised in the recommendations, Mr. Gharibabadi said Iran had attained great achievements in promoting the status of women, notably in higher education.  On freedom of expression and opinion, Mr. Gharibabadi described publications and media organizations, also noting that in 2013 more than 66,000 books were printed.  Regarding political participation, he noted that Iran had more than 230 political parties with different orientations, 400 professional associations and trade unions and 60 societies of religious minorities.  Public gatherings and marches were freely permitted provided that arms were not carried, and more than 17,000 community-based organizations had received permits to operate in areas such as human rights, social rights, charitable endeavours, the environment, and animal rights.  Over the last 35 years, 32 elections had been held to choose presidents, members of the Assembly of Experts and representatives of Parliament, city and rural councils.

Nicaragua congratulated Iran for accepting the majority of the recommendations, and insisted that the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was a space for political will and cooperation.  Nicaragua disapproved of initiatives that promoted politicized and disproportionate resolutions such as those against Iran.

Oman appreciated that Iran was willing to promote human rights in line with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.  Measures already taken by Iran were appreciated.  Oman recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the Universal Periodic Review of the friendly Republic of Iran.

Pakistan appreciated Iran’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and commended the decision of the Government to accept the majority of the recommendations, including those that had been proposed by Pakistan on the rights of women and children, and access to health services.

Philippines welcomed Iran’s constructive engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process, and recognized its significant achievements in realizing the Millennium Development Goals.  It encouraged Iran to further its efforts for the protection and empowerment of women, and welcomed its efforts on the right to education. 

Russian Federation commended Iran’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and treaty bodies, and called for the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review outcome report. 

Sierra Leone called on Iran to accept recommendations relating to the death penalty, and called for the establishment of a moratorium on executions.  Sierra Leone welcomed the adoption by Iran of a Five-Year Development Plan. 

Sri Lanka commended Iran on the progress it had made since its first Universal Periodic Review, and said its invitation to High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to visit Iran was particularly significant.  It encouraged Iran to continue promoting access to education for girls and enhancing women’s participation in political and public spheres.

Sudan commended Iran for accepting 65 per cent of the recommendations presented during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and thanked it for accepting the two recommendations presented by Sudan.  It recommended that the Council adopt the outcome report of Iran.

Tajikistan said Iran’s report demonstrated its commitment to implement its international human rights obligations.  Tajikistan noted Iran’s efforts to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, and welcomed Iran’s approach to the promotion and protection of human rights according to the principles of cultural diversity.

Turkmenistan expressed its gratitude to Iran for its active cooperation with all human rights mechanisms and recommended that the Human Rights Council adopt the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Iran.

United Kingdom recognized the willingness of Iran to cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review.  It expressed regret that there was a sharp increase in executions, including the use of the death penalty for those crimes that did not meet international standards.  Persecution of religious groups was also a concern, as was pre-trial detention.

United States welcomed the participation of Iran in the Universal Periodic Review. Though the release of certain human rights activists was welcome, deep concern remained on prisoners of conscience still imprisoned.  Iran should end harassment and persecution of journalists, and release those imprisoned for their religious beliefs.  

Uzbekistan commended the constructive cooperation by Iran with the Universal Periodic Review and its acceptance of most of the recommendations.  It trusted that it would help Iran strengthen its legislation on the promotion and protection of human rights.

Venezuela welcomed efforts by Iran to implement the Millennium Development Goals.  The imposition of unilateral coercive sanctions was a violation of international law and undermined the rights of the people of Iran. 

Afghanistan welcomed that Iran had accepted its recommendation on the protection of refugee rights and compliance with international human rights law and standards, and expressed its appreciation for the hosting of Afghan refugees in Iran. 

Algeria commended Iran for its commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process, and for accepting 65 per cent of the recommendations made to it, including two recommendations made by Algeria on the development of a favourable environment for civil society and the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children.

Armenia said it valued that the national minorities of Iran, including the Armenian minority, continued to freely exercise their cultural and religious rights and hoped that the implementation of its recommendation would help Iran to further protect their rights.  It welcomed acceptance of the recommendation on human rights education and training.  

Lawyers for Lawyers said while Iran was fully entitled to the benefits of Article 4 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, similarly all citizens of Iran were fully entitled to the right to a fair trial, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The right to a fair trial included the right to be represented by independent counsel and lawyers. 

Baha’i International Community regretted that its recommendations relevant to the situation of Baha’is had not been implemented.  Baha’is remained discriminated against and deprived of their most basic rights, including the right to religion.  It was saddened by Ayatollah Bojnourdi’s statement that he had never said that Baha’is had the right to education or citizenship rights.

Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik regretted that Iran had missed the opportunity to ratify several crucial conventions, as well as adopt the recommendations.   This showed that Iran did not want to stop torture or discrimination against women.  The number of drug offenders was 2,052 and that of executions over 750.

Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society commended some of the changes after the election of President Rouhani, but regretted his disagreement about activities of some non-governmental organizations.  Afghan refugees were not given any rights.  The situation of middle and lower income families’ was deteriorating and there were irreversible social problems. 

International Lesbian and Gay Association expressed concern that Iran had rejected the recommendations relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  Iran remained one of the few countries on earth to consider consensual same sex relationships punishable by death. 

Fédération International des Fédétations des Droits de l’Homme regretted that the review focused on legislation mostly and omitted the lack of implementation on the ground.  It expressed concerns about the repression of basic freedoms, discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities, denial of due process and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists. 

Article 19 highlighted recommendations to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and assembly and to release all those detained because of the exercise of these rights.  More than 30 journalists remained in prison, and human rights defenders were continuously harassed.  It called on the international community to continue to put pressure on Iran and underlined the importance of cooperation with Special Procedures. 

Prevention Association of Social Harms (PASH) said universality was an essential characteristic of human rights.  If the international community focused on the human rights situation in one country while overlooking worse rights violations in another, that universality would be weakened.  The Council should focus more on achievements.  

Women’s Human Rights International Association said Iran had the highest execution rate per capita in the world and had carried out 252 executions in the last 10 weeks alone, including on juveniles.  The Association said blinding, stoning and flogging were barbaric acts forbidden in international law but carried out by the State in Iran. 

Advocates for Human Rights said in 2014 Iran executed more than 750 people, averaging more than two executions per day.  Most were convicted of drug-related offences, and many were juveniles, some as young as 15.  Iran had not accepted any recommendations on the death penalty and the situation required the Council’s sustained attention. 

The President of the Council said that out of 291 recommendations received, Iran had accepted 130 and taken note of 161.

Concluding Remarks

KAZEM GHARIBABADI, Deputy Secretary-General for the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, in concluding remarks, said that the support of the vast majority of the delegations was a good asset for Iran to proceed with its human rights policies.  Taking into account the issues raised, he elaborated on some points.  On the issue of the death penalty and recommendations for its abolition, it was clear that there was neither global consensus nor legal obligation for its abolition.  In Iran the death penalty as strictly defined by the law was applied only to the most offensive crimes, and this included drug trafficking.  On freedom of minorities, in terms of per capita space for worship, Christians had more than 250 churches in the country, numbering almost 1 church for every 500 individuals.  These religious sites were also renovated with funding from the public budget.  The law provided for the election of one member of the Zoroastrian community and one member of the Jewish communities, as well as three representatives from the Christians community.  All citizens enjoyed the protection of the law as well as political, economic, social, and cultural rights.  Regarding freedom of expression and journalists, an issue raised by only one delegation, Iranian society was based on freedoms and obligations.  Iran categorically rejected statements to this effect.  All individuals were treated equally, regardless of employment status. There were no political prisoners or prisoners of conscience in Iran.

It was imperative to recall that paramount to the advancement of human rights, Iran had also been a victim of human rights violations from the beginning of the Revolution. Despite the atrocities committed against its citizens, Iran was fully committed to the promotion of human rights.   Thousands had died as a result of terrorism and thousands had lost their lives in the eight-year war imposed on Iran, including lives lost due to chemical weapons.  As regards illicit drugs, huge sacrifices had been made.  As a result of human and illegal sanctions against Iran, citizens continued to suffer.  Iran regretted that the international community had not taken any steps to investigate these wrongdoings.  Iran was determined to protect and promote human rights.  Iranian society was cultured and educated, and the respect for human rights was institutionalized and a part of the Constitution. 

The outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of the Islamic Republic of Iran was then adopted. 

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