Saturday, November 19, 2005

U.N. expresses concern about human rights in Iran

USA Today:

Posted 11/18/2005 6:16 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. committee passed a resolution Friday expressing concern about human rights violations in Iran, deploring its use of torture, discrimination against women and intimidation of political opponents.

The resolution, proposed by Canada, demands Iran stop executing people under 18, discriminating against ethnic and religious minorities, and intimidating defense lawyers, journalists and the opposition.

It passed by a vote of 77 to 51, with 46 nations abstaining.

"The government of Iran should be singled out and a strong message should be sent that their human rights record and practices are unacceptable," Canada's U.N. Ambassador Alan Rock said after the vote.

The resolution passed after extensive debate in the U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with social and humanitarian issues. The committee rejected an Iranian attempt to block the vote through a procedural motion.

Among a list of violations, it deplored discrimination against women and "the continuing use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment such as flogging and amputations."

Several nations, mostly from the developing world, argued that singling out Iran would only harden Tehran's stance and set a double standard because rich nations are rarely treated the same way.

"Naming and shaming member states has not been productive in our efforts to promote human rights," Malaysia's representative to the committee said.

Other nations, including Cuba, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela, also opposed the resolution. It had 45 co-sponsors, including the United States and Australia.

Iran tried to block the resolution through a procedural motion that would have killed discussion of it during this session of the General Assembly, which lasts through next summer. But that motion was defeated 70 to 77, with 23 abstentions.

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