By William Miller,
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
OTTAWA, Canada – A Canadian drafted UN resolution released on Thursday, October 29 sharply criticized Iran for their continuing violations of human rights. Canada has proposed such resolutions before but this resolution is the first to criticize UN Special Investigators for their failure investigate Iran’s atrocious human rights violations.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon suggested that this resolution will be the strongest Criticism of Iran’s human rights violations drafted by Canada. Cannon has been historically critical of Iran and led a walkout in protest of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month at the UN Delegation.
Canada has emerged as the leader in attacking Iran’s human rights violations and have drafted all resolutions criticizing such violations since 2003. In that year, an Iranian born photojournalist named Zahara Kazemi was arrested, tortured and killed in Iran. The Canadian resolutions stemming from this incident have been unanimously supported by the UN despite persistent attacks on procedural grounds by Iran.
The current resolution will be the first one to criticize inspectors by asking them to focus more intensely on Iran. Past resolutions drafted by Canada have called for Iranian cooperation but have fallen short of criticizing inspectors. The draft specifically mentions inspectors who focus their investigations in areas of human rights such as extra-judicial executions, torture, free speech suppression, persecution of human rights activists, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances. Iran has issued a standing invitation to such investigators but has consistently ignored attempts by investigators looking to visit the country and has not filled a single request in four years.
UN inspectors are already facing criticism for not focusing their efforts on countries like Iran and instead placing the majority of their attention on developed democracies. Critics say that developed countries already have the systems in place to deal with violations and that countries like Iran, where the inspectors are truly needed, are left unchecked. Inspector Gay MacDougal was mentioned as one of the unnecessary inspectors. MacDougal focuses on minorities and was investigating Canada as the resolution was being finished. So far fifty percent of the countries visited by McDougal have been mature democracies like Canada.
The resolution specifically accuses Iran of “persistent failure to uphold due process of law rights, and violation of rights of detainees, including defendants held without charge or incommunicado, the systematic and arbitrary use of prolonged solitary confinement, and lack of timely access to legal representation.” The resolution also alleges increased discrimination against minorities pointing to the 2008 arrest of Bahai religious leaders who are currently still being held. Other specific examples of human rights abuses mentioned in the resolution include flogging, amputation and stoning.
For more information, please see:
National Post – Of Toronto & Tehran – 30 October 2009
Washington TV – Canada Urges UN Investigators to Focus on Rights abuses in Iran – 30 October 2009
Ottawa Citizen – Canada Unveils UN Resolution Blasting Iran’s Rights Record – 29 October 2009
The Vancouver Sun – Canada Tries to Focus UN Spotlight on Iran’s Human Rights Record – 28 October