UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The UN General Assembly’s human rights committee welcomed pledges by Iran’s new president on some important human rights issues Tuesday but criticized serious rights violations including torture, frequent use of the death penalty and widespread restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.
A resolution urging Iran’s new government led by President Hassan Rouhani to address ongoing human rights violations was adopted by a vote of 83-36 with 62 abstentions. The 193-member General Assembly is expected to give final approval to the resolution next month.
The resolution welcomes Rouhani’s pledge to eliminate discrimination against women and members of ethnic minorities, to promote freedom of expression and opinion, and to implement a civil rights charter. It also welcomes the peaceful conduct of the presidential election in June and the government’s recent release of a number of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.
At the same time, however, Canada’s UN Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski, whose country sponsored the resolution, said “human rights violations in Iran continue to be widespread and grave.”
The resolution cites Iran’s use of inhuman punishments including flogging and amputations, its “alarming” high use of the death penalty including against young people under age 18, its efforts to block or hinder Internet access and content and to jam international satellite transmission, and its harassment of human rights defenders.
“Following positive overtures and statements, the government of Iran must now act to demonstrate a real commitment to human rights reform,” Rishchynski said.
Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee accused Canada of brushing off “Iran’s enormous advancement” and presenting a resolution “devoid of facts.”
Canada broke diplomatic relations with Iran in September 2012, accusing the Islamic Republic of being the most significant threat to world peace.
Khazaee accused Canada of turning a bilateral dispute into a claim against Iranian human rights, and countered that Canada violates the rights of indigenous people and minorities at home.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.