Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Canada pushes for adoption of UN resolution on human rights in Iran

Yahoo News:

Tue Nov 8, 5:07 PM ET UNITED NATIONS (CP) - Canada has introduced a UN resolution expressing concerns over the violation of human rights in Iran, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said Tuesday.

The General Assembly is expected to vote on it this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday. The resolution, co-sponsored by 38 other countries, calls upon the Iranian government to abide by its international obligations on human rights, Pettigrew said in a news release.

It wants Iran to being about improvements in many areas, including independence of the judiciary, intimidation and persecution of defence lawyers and legal defenders, arbitrary detentions, freedom of _expression, freedom of the media, the treatment of women, the treatment of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and the execution of persons under age 18.

"We have carefully followed the situation in Iran during the past year and we believe there has been a marked deterioration in the government's performance in protecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its people," Pettigrew said.

"Positive developments in 2005 have been sparse and the lack of progress and action by the government of Iran is cause for serious concern."

Canada's relations with Iran have declined rapidly over the death of Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.

Kazemi died in an Iranian jail in July 2003, about three weeks after being detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during anti-government protests. Lawyers for her family say she was beaten to death.

Iranian authorities initially said she died of a stroke, but a commission appointed by Iran's president found she died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage caused by the impact of a hard object.

Iran's judiciary charged a low-ranking intelligence official, Reza Ahmadi, with unintentionally killing her during interrogation. Ahmadi was cleared of the charge at trial last July, with the court citing a lack of evidence.

Iran has rejected calls for a new inquiry and turned down requests for an international forensic team to examine the body.

Last December, Canada was a main sponsor of a UN resolution on the human rights situation in Iran. It called for the matter to be re-examined this fall at the General Assembly.


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