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Iran lawmakers want UN rights auditor barred from examining allegations of human rights abuse

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Iranian lawmakers urged the government on Sunday to prevent a UN investigator from coming to the country to look into allegations of human rights abuses.

Ahmed Shaheed, a former Maldives foreign minister, was last week named special rapporteur on Iran by the UN Human Rights Council, which had voiced concern at Tehran’s crackdowns on opposition figures and increased use of the death penalty.

“There should be no permission issued for the UN rights envoy’s entry into Iran,” official news agency IRNA quoted Mohammad Karim Abedi, spokesman for the Majlis Human Rights Committee, as saying.

“Instead of focusing on Iran, the UN Human Rights Council should consider the breaches of human rights in America, the Zionist regime (Israel) and Britain,” he said. “They are the world’s biggest violators of human rights.”

Government officials had no immediate comment.

But Iran’s Deputy Judiciary Chief Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi told IRNA: “If they (Western countries) investigate the issue of human rights in Iran in a fair and non-political way, they will understand that at the current juncture, the Islamic Republic is the only country that attaches the greatest significance to human rights principles.”

“However, they will make a mistake about Iran’s human right issue if they pursue unfair approaches and are affected by opponents of the Islamic Republic who have secret links with political movements of the US and the arrogant system,” Mr. Raeisi said.

The post taken up by Mr. Shaheed was established on March 24, a move spearheaded by Washington.

UN officials and diplomats say Iran has not allowed UN human rights experts to visit since 2005, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first took office.

Opposition supporters have been jailed since Mr. Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009, which the opposition says was rigged. Iranian authorities say it was the “healthiest” vote in the past three decades.

Eight people were killed during anti-government street protests that followed the election.

Even if Mr. Shaheed is barred from Iran, he would still be expected to contact the government frequently about allegations and produce an annual report incorporating testimony from activists and alleged victims of abuse.

(Sara Ghasemilee, a senior editor with Al Arabiya English, can be reached at sara.ghasemilee@mbc.net)