Islamic Republic Urged to Heed UN Rapporteur's Findings
February 03, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders today hailed the report issued on 12 January by the UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression and opinion, Ambeyi Ligabo, following his 4-10 November visit to Iran, and it urged the Iranian authorities to implement the report's recommendations.
"The observations and conclusions of this official UN document confirm the dramatic situation for press freedom in Iran, which Reporters Without Borders has been condemning for years," the organisation's secretary-general, Robert Ménard, said.
"The Iranian authorities accepted the principle of this visit, so we call on them now to implement the conclusions and proposals made by the special rapporteur for a rapid reform of the press code and criminal code and an improvement in the judicial practices which currently allow widespread abuses in the trials of prisoners of opinion," Ménard said.
"Like the special rapporteur, we expect the release of all the journalists who have been imprisoned just for doing their job. We also hope that Zahra Kazemi's murderers will not benefit from any impunity and that her body will be repatriated at once to Canada, as her son wishes," Ménard added.
Ligabo found a decline in respect for freedom of expression in Iran, with increasing numbers of newspapers being closed and journalists being imprisoned, often beyond what is legally allowed for provisional detention. The systematic repression of all critical opinion as regards political and religious institutions has ushered in a climate of fear and encouraged self-censorship.
The special rapporteur also noted the arbitrary procedures being followed by judicial institutions, in violation of the most elementary rights of defendants, who are tried behind closed doors without a lawyer present. He saw very harsh prison conditions, with long periods of solitary confinement that are tantamount to torture.
Ligabo urged the Islamic Republic to revise its judicial procedures and make them conform to international standards, and to adopt a human rights charter. He said the revolutionary courts should no longer have authority over crimes of opinion and he called on the authorities to end prison sentences for crimes of opinion and press offences.
Ligabo was the second rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights to make an official visit to Iran. Louis Joinet, the chairman of the working group on arbitrary detention visited Iran from 15 to 27 February 2003, but his recommendations had no effect.
Both rapporteurs expressed the same expectations as regard press freedom and respect for human rights in Iran.
Reporters Without Borders hopes that the changes recommended by Joinet and Ligabo will be implemented with monitoring by international bodies, in particular, by human rights organisations and the European Union, which has been conducting a constructive dialogue with the Iranian regime on human rights issues since 1998. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=9157
It seems that Reporters Without Borders is forgetting what happened to Batebi after Ligabo's visit. Hard to believe they forgot about his disappearence and subsequent return to prison before receiving the medical care he sought. And we never did hear any outrage from Mr. Ligabo regarding that incident.