Shaheed more “actor than rapporteur”: Iran’s human rights chief

Iranian officials have accused former Maldivian foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, subsequently appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, of failing to perform his duties adequately.

The Secretary General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights  labelled Dr Shaheed “more of an actor than a rapporteur”, suggesting that he had been acting like an inspector rather than a rapporteur according to the Tehran Times.

Mohammad Javad Larijani at the same time rejected Shaheed’s requests to visit the Islamic republic, stating: “I believe that the request is not serious.”

“I believe that in view of the measures taken by Ahmed Shaheed and the show of interviews launched by him, he is more of an actor than a rapporteur,” he added.

Dr Shaheed was appointed Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran in 2011 – the first time a Maldivian has held such a position.

The decision to establish a Special Rapporteur on Iran was made in 2011 after the deterioration of human rights in the country following the 2009 election.

The mandate for the position includes investigating human rights abuses and undertaking country visits in order to report back to the General Assembly.

The Tehran Times also quoted Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, who also attacked Dr Shaheed.

“He has not acted fairly and has played the role of the opposition, and his measures have been outside the purview of a UN rapporteur,” the paper quoted Abbas Araqchi as saying.

The spokesman is reported to have said that Iran has no intention of allowing Shaheed into the country until his approach is “modified”.

Shaheed is scheduled to report his recent findings to the General Assembly in October.

In his last report in March, he informed the UN Human Rights Council that Iran’s human rights violations had increased in the past two years.

In a list of recommendations, he urged Iran to “extend its full cooperation to the country mandate-holder by engaging in a substantive and constructive dialogue and facilitating a visit the country.”

Iran’s official response to this report described it as “biased” and as disregarding the “realities on the ground” and “principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality”.

Speaking with the Canadian media last month, Dr Shaheed had expressed hope that the new administration of President Hasan Rohani would result in greater opportunities for dialogue.

“Skepticism borne out of previous experience should not make us blind to opportunities,” he told the New Canadian Media website.

Shaheed’s chief critic, Larijani, made headlines last year when he reportedly described homosexuality as a “disease”.


UN Special Rapporteur appeals for cooperation of Iranian government

The new UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, former Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, has appealed to the Iranian government to extend its full cooperation with his mandate after the Islamic republic refused to permit the Special Rapporteur to enter the country.

In July, Iran’s secretary general of the high council for human rights dismissed “the western-engineered appointment” of Dr Shaheed as Special Rapporteur as”an illegal measure,” according to the Tehran Times.

“Iran has no problem with the individual who has been appointed as the special rapporteur, but the appointment of a rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran is unacceptable and Iran will not accept the decision,” Mohammad Javad Larijani was quoted as saying.

According to according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Dr Shaheed however expressed hope that “the Iranian authorities will view my mandate as a secure and legitimate space in which to take steps to comply with its international human rights obligations, as well as an opportunity to address the areas of concern communicated to Iran during its interactions with the international community on human rights issues.”

Dr Shaheed said on his first day as Special Rapporteur that the new mandate “provides an opportunity for Iran to engage on a range of human rights issues that have been raised by the international community.”

“I issued a written communication to the Iranian authorities to introduce myself and express my interest in visiting the country,” he said. “My first report shall be submitted to the sixty-sixth session of General Assembly, and I have sought meetings with the Iranian Ambassador to the UN Offices in Geneva ahead of that date to discuss a platform for cooperation in the months ahead.”

According to a statement by the OHCHR, Dr Shaheed is seeking cooperation of the Iranian authorities in the interest of fair and accurate reporting on its human rights situation, and developing constructive engagement between Iran and the UN human rights machinery.

“Every effort shall be made to demonstrate both the steps that the Iranian authorities can take to comply with Iran’s international obligations, as well as to draw attention to the grievances of those who feel victimized by alleged human rights violations,” Shaheed stressed.

Dr Shaheed resigned as Foreign Policy Advisor to the President this week before officially commencing his duties as Special Rapporteur on August 1, 2011. Prior to his appointment as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran on June 17, 2011, Dr Shaheed served as foreign minister under both the incumbent and previous administrations.

In an interview with Minivan News following his appointment, Dr Shaheed conceded that the Iranian government’s refusal to allow the Special Rapporteur to enter the country was “a challenge, but by and large they come around in the end.”

“The last time a Special Rapporteur was in Iran was in 1996. Countries eventually come round, but it takes time,” he said. “The work of the special rapporteur is structured in such a way that even if a field visit is not possible the work can continue.”