New document cites rise in number of jailed journalists, censorship of 5 million websites and persecution of minorities
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A special UN rapporteur released a scathing report Wednesday detailing widespread human rights abuses in Iran, but he said recent signals from new President Hassan Rouhani have raised expectations for change.
Ahmed Shaheed’s report condemned a rise in the number of jailed journalists in Iran over the past decade — including 23 since January — and other restrictions against freedom of expression, including the blocking of up to 5 million websites. He expressed alarm about a law being considered that would allow a custodian to marry his adopted child. And he said minority religious groups are subjected to discrimination in employment and education, and are often arbitrarily arrested and tortured.
“These signals I refer to raise the expectation of tangible and sustainable reforms,” Ahmed said in a speech presenting his report.
He called for the release of hundreds more prisoners of conscience and urged Iran to respond to his numerous requests to visit the Islamic Republic.
In a written response, Iran rejected Shaheed’s report as “a biased approach” that relied on unconfirmed reports for some numbers and “does not merit public trust or confidence.” The country defended its press freedom policies, saying they are carried out with regard to “the fundamental principles of Islam and the public rights” enshrined in Iran’s Constitution.