U.N. slams Iran, Syria over rights record

Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, sits with the delegation during a session reviewing Iran's human rights record. (File photo: Reuters)

The U.N. human rights committee adopted on Tuesday two resolutions strongly condemning Iran and Syria’s human rights record, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent reported.

The non-binding measures now go to the full Assembly for a vote expected next month.

More than 120 member-states voted in favor of a resolution condemning “the grave deterioration of the human right situation” in Syria, with a mere 13 states rejecting and 47 abstentions, the correspondent reported.

As to Iran’s rights record, 78 countries endorsed the resolution, 35 voted against while 69 abstained.

Syria’s Ambassador Bashar Jaafari criticized the resolution as biased and politically-motivated, Agence France-Presse reported.

“They align themselves against Syria as long as Saudi oil runs through their veins,” he said.

The resolution condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s nearly four-year war and deplored the use of torture in detention centers throughout the country.

It demanded that Syria put an end to attacks on civilians including those involving the use of barrel bombs.

Iran’s representative called the resolution, drafted by Canada with 45 co-sponsors, as “pointless and counterproductive.”

The resolution pointed to the surge in the use of the death penalty in Iran, with at least 850 people executed in the past 15 months.

China and Russia opposed both resolutions on the ground that they unfairly target a country in resolutions that have been dubbed the “name and shame” measures of the United Nations.

In the draft resolution on Syria, the U.N. body condemned “escalating” human rights violations, and addressed issues such as sexual violence, child abuse, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, prevention of humanitarian assistance, the differentiation between civilian and military targets.

The draft described these abuses as “violations of international law.”

It also denounced the disproportional power to advantage of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime against civilians, which caused a “dire humanitarian situation” and “encouraged extremism and the creation of militia groups.”

It highlighted a culture of people who committed crimes escaping punishment, making the conflict-struck Syria a “fertile ground for more violations.”

It denounced Assad’s regime for using explosive barrels against civilians and said it was behind the “majority” of killings of civilians on a daily basis.

The resolutions also judged the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as other Sunni and Shiite groups such as the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front and Abu Al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade.

It called for an urgent humanitarian help including for the more than six million internally displaced people in Syria. It said the conflict has killed more than 191,000 people including 10,000 children since 2011.

Iran’s ‘alarming’ death penalties

Meanwhile, the U.N. expressed “deep concern” at the “ongoing and recurring human rights” abuses including the “alarming high frequency” of death penalties in Iran.

While the resolution acknowledges “legislative and administration changes” in Iran, including amendments to the Islamic republic’s penal code and its criminal procedure code, it listed 18 requests Tehran needs to improvise on.

It highlighted “the alarming high frequency of and increase in the carrying-out of the death penalty in the absence of international recognized safeguards, including public executions.”

It also urged to prohibit public and secret group executions as well as “reports of executions undertaken without the notifications of the prisoner’s family members or legal counsel.”

The resolution denounced death penalties for crimes that “lack a precise and explicit definition and for crimes that do not qualify as the most serious crimes,” which are in violation of international law.

On Nov. 1, Iran’s top human rights official Mohammad Javad Larijani responded to the U.N. criticism of the death penalty in his country by saying 93 percent of the executions in Iran are for illegal drug smuggling, the Associated Press reported.

The draft called on Iran to stop “torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations.”

Freedom of expression and assembly should be given to all Iranians regardless of their ethnic or linguistic background. It criticized “continued discrimination and human rights violations against Arabs, Azeris, Balochis, Kurds and their defenders.”

The “pervasive gender inequality and violence against women and discrimination,” the resolution also criticized.

Assembly resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea, Myanmar and Syria have become an annual ritual.

North Korea is also facing a key vote in the U.N. on human rights violations.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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