By a Special Correspondent at the UN
GENEVA (IPS) 21 Apr. The United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva once again condemned Friday the Islamic Republic for its "gross violation of human rights, stifling press freedom and allowing cruel executions'' by 21 votes to seventeen and fifteen abstention.
Dr. Abdolkarim Lahiji, Vice president of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues hailed the vote, observing that more than any previous years, the Islamic Republic had "good chances" this year to escape condemnation, as, in his view, many nations that have "no idea of human rights" were sitting in the 53-members Commission.
The EU block, wining support from the United States, Canada, Japan and Latin American countries dashed hopes from Iranian and some other "notable violators" of human rights, like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia or Cuba etc. to escape blames.
The resolution, prepared on the rapport prepared by the UN Human Rights Commission's Special rapporteur, the Canadian Maurice Capithorne, denounced a lack of "freedom of expression, especially attacks against the freedom of the press", and condemned "the imprisonment of journalists and the harsh reaction to student demonstrations''.
The resolution expressed concern on the "unsatisfactory compliance with international standards in the administration of justice, in particular public and especially cruel executions'', most of them by hanging, in Iran.
It also criticised Iran for failing to "co-operate" with U.N. human rights experts, including Mr. Copithorne, who have been denied access to the country since 1996.
Iranian Ambassador Ali Khorram attacked the resolution as "another attempt to dominate developing countries". "Iran had faced such resolutions for 18 years and they were "ineffective and fruitless'', he said in anger and dismay.
Earlier, the Envoy, banking on a capital of sympathy Iranian President Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami used to enjoy in Europe, had called on the Commission's members to scrap the Islamic Republic from the list of nations accused of human rights violations, saying Iran does not need to have a special rapporteur
"I do not claim there are no violations of human rights in Iran'', he said, but, he added "Iran was moving toward democracy, and authorities were serious about applying the human rights set out in the country's constitution.
"The protection and promotion of human rights are fundamental principles to which my government is fully committed", he added.
Observers said the "bundle closure" of independent and reformist press, imprisonment of dozen of prominent journalists and the mass arrest of more than sixty members of Islamist-nationalist and Iran Freedom Movement groups in recent weeks had a serious impact on the Europeans.
Mr. Lahiji said most of the nations that voted for Iran were themselves singled out by the Commission, like Russia because of Chechnya, or China, or others, like Saudi Arabia, Liberia, Iraq or Pakistan where human rights is a strange notion to the governments.
[During commission votes Wednesday though, China blocked a U.S. resolution to condemn its human rights record].
Though the resolution expressed satisfaction at the fact that there was some progress in the situation of women, education for children and the human rights in general, but those rights nevertheless are grossly violated, political dissidents, students, journalists and intellectuals, many of them arrested just because
taking part at a conference in Berlin.
The Islamic Republic was also condemned for the "irregular" hangings, torture and harsh sentences passed by Islamic revolution courts and the Clergymen's Special Tribunal, but also because of incompatibility of its justice with international laws and charters.
The Commission also renewed the mandate of Mr. Copithorne for another year.
Speaking to the Persian service of the BBC, Mr. Copithorne said that if he is denied entry to Iran, as he had been since 1996, he would continue to write his report on information available to him from all sources, most of them coming from Iran itself.
In his report, Mr. Copithorne had also observed the difficult situation of political prisoners, noting that many of them are held in unknown places, with no access to lawyers, nor to their families.
He said he is concerned particularly on the situation of freedoms, the women, the judicial system and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.
During commission votes Wednesday, China blocked a U.S. resolution to condemn its human rights record.
The condemnations by the UN Human Rights Commission does not bring any international obligation, but places the faulted nations on a "bad boys" list. ENDS IRAN CONDEMNED AT UN RIGHTS COMMISSION