Spindelegger: “Clear demand to Iran”
Austrian Foreign Minister on the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council
Vienna, 23 March 2012 – The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution yesterday extending the mandate of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Ahmad Shaheed by one year. Austria was among the central group of states that tabled the resolution in the Human Rights Council. “I call upon Iran to finally stop its blocking tactics, to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur of the UN and to grant him access to the country forthwith ", Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur states that the situation of human rights in Iran has continued to deteriorate dramatically. In the year 2011 alone, at least 670 people were executed according to UN information, and even the cruel method of stoning people to death is being employed again. “The significant increase in the number of death sentences and executions in Iran is alarming. Death sentences for teenagers and public executions are particularly appalling. I urgently call upon Iran to put an end to the execution of young persons", Spindelegger said.
The situation of religious minorities in the country is also further deteriorating. After the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education was forced to close in 2011, several people related to the Institute were sentenced to many years of imprisonment. Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy and his execution is still pending. “Freedom of religion is part of the universal and unalienable human rights. The imposition of the death penalty for reasons of religious belief is totally unacceptable”, Spindelegger confirmed.
Whenever the opportunity arises in bilateral talks, Austria addresses the human rights situation in Iran in general as well as concrete cases of violations of human rights and urges for improvement. At EU level, Austria supports measures such as the sanctions agreed upon last April against the people committing the most severe violations of human rights in Iran.
The persecution of artists is particularly alarming, as is the increasing censoring of the Internet and the lack of freedom for the media. Currently, 42 journalists are serving prison sentences, more than in any other country in the world. “Freedom of the media and protection of journalists are focal areas of our work on the UN Human Rights Council. We have therefore asked the Special Rapporteur to provide more information on the situation of journalists in future", Spindelegger concluded.
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