U.N. report slams Iran over human rights

A person holds a placard showing a portrait of Iran's Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani (R), who has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, as he participates in a demonstration on October 10, 2010, at the Centre national d'Art et Culture Georges Pompidou's esplanade in Paris, to protest against death penalty. ETIENNE LAURENT/AFP/Getty Images

death penalty, executions, demonstrations, Iran, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
A person holds a placard showing a portrait of Iran's Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani (R), who has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, as he participates in a demonstration on October 10, 2010, at the Centre national d'Art et Culture Georges Pompidou's esplanade in Paris, to protest against death penalty.
ETIENNE LAURENT/AFP/Getty Images

(CBS News) A new U.N. report accuses the Islamic Republic of Iran of widespread human rights violations, specifically taking Iran to task over political prisoners, election fraud and their widespread use of capital punishment without consistent demonstrations of due process.

In the report (PDF), by Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it states bluntly that "the cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the human rights mechanisms has been found wanting."

Second only to China in use of capital punishment, Iran publicly acknowledged executing nearly 500 people in 2011, according to the report.

The U.N. report calls for an immediate moratorium on executions in Iran "until such time as effective enforcement of due process rights may be meaningfully demonstrated."

There has been an "alarming" increase in official executions in the last decade, the report states. In 2003, there were less than 100 publicly acknowledged executions, while in 2011 there were 421 official executions, with another 249 estimated to have been carried out in secret.

Of the 252 official executions in Iran in 2010, five were women and one was a juvenile, and Iran is one of the few countries which still sentences juvenile prisoners to death, according to Amnesty International.

The Special Rapporteur wrote that the practice of executing juveniles should end immediately, and that authorities should "consider commuting all capital sentences for juveniles currently facing a death sentence."

While executing prisoners via stoning was officially abolished in Iran's new penal code, Shaheed suggests it has not taken steps to "explicitly restrict the use of this punishment, and calls on the Government to commute existing sentences for execution by stoning."

The report also states the accusation of widespread fraud in the 2008 and 2009 elections should be reviewed by an independent investigator. In addition to election fraud, the report accuses the Iranian government of imprisoning numerous individuals for political reasons alone.

While this is not the first time the Iranian regime has been accused of grossly violating basic human rights, The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran believes the report is still a good thing, said campaign spokesperson, Hadi Ghaemi, in a statement.

"This is just the beginning of a process at the U.N. level to reveal and address the many aspects of gross and systematic human rights violations in Iran," Ghaemi said.

So far, the Iranian regime has not responded to the U.N. report. They have rarely responded to accusations of human rights violations in the past. Shaheed states in the report Iran is among the world's worst at responding to official communiques, pointing out that "54 percent of communications transmitted had received no response."

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.

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