Rouhani on the phone 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UNITED NATIONS - Iran's human rights record should not
be overlooked amid overtures to the West by new President Hassan Rouhani, a UN
envoy said on Wednesday as he criticized Tehran for executing 724 people in 18
months, including dozens just after Rouhani was elected in June.
Shaheed, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said at least 44
people were executed shortly after the Iranian polls and that the majority of
all executions were related to drug-trafficking cases.
Rouhani is a
relative moderate who has opened a door for compromise on Iran's nuclear program
after years of escalating confrontation with Western powers. Six global powers
and Iran met in Geneva last week on ways towards a diplomatic deal.
renewed or revitalized dialogue between Iran and the international community
must include and not seek to sideline the issue of human rights," Shaheed told
the UN General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human
"Human rights considerations must be central to the new
government's legislative and policy agenda, and to international dialogue and
cooperation," said Shaheed, who was not allowed to visit Iran to investigate the
Iran said it does not claim to have a perfect human
rights situation and that no country - including those who voted at the UN
Human Rights Council in March for Shaheed to continue his role for another year
- could make such a claim.
"We, however, stress that Iran, especially
after the election of President Rouhani, has put a new emphasis on its
unwavering dedication towards the promotion and protection of all human rights
inside and outside the country," a representative of Iran's UN mission told
the Third Committee.
In Shaheed's annual report, he
said there appeared to be an increasingly adverse impact of general sanctions on
the country's economic and social welfare, raising alarm about the apparent
ineffectiveness of humanitarian safeguards.
The United States and the
European Union say their embargoes do not target humanitarian goods. But cutting
off Iran's energy, banking and shipping sectors from the outside world has
touched every sector of the economy and caused a currency
"Several reports have signaled that humanitarian safeguards in
the form of exemptions for foodstuffs, medicines, chemicals for the production
of medications and medical supplies are failing to meet their intended purpose,"
He said shortages of drugs and materials to repair and
maintain medical equipment "are having a profoundly worrisome impact on access
to life-saving medical measures," but that some reports indicate that the
Iranian government could have done more to protect medical supplies in the face
"A former Iranian health minister is reported to have
maintained that of the $2.5 billion earmarked for foreign exchange necessary to
meet the import needs of the medical sector in 2012, only $650 million was
provided, intimating that the funds were misallocated," Shaheed
Shaheed also raised concern about women's rights, particularly laws
and policies that were continuing to limit women's access to decision-making
roles and erode progress made by women in education. He said all 30 women who
had registered as candidates for the presidential elections were
Iran told him the women were not ruled out because of
gender but due to a lack of "executive and political experience." Iran's
representative said Shaheed's report "has not paid sufficient notice to Iran's
legal system and Islamic culture and considers whatever he sees in the West as
an international standard for the entire world."