Mittwoch, Dezember 20, 2006

UN assembly accuses Iran of numerous rights abuses

By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly expressed "serious concern" on Tuesday about a long list of human rights abuses attributed to Iran and urged Tehran to ensure full respect for those rights.

A resolution was adopted by a vote of 72-50 with 55 abstentions in the 192-nation assembly after it narrowly defeated a motion by Iran to take no action on the measure.

The resolution expressed the assembly's "serious concern" at Tehran's "harassment, intimidation and persecution" of human rights champions, interest groups, political opponents, religious dissenters, journalists, parliamentarians, students, clerics, academics, Internet bloggers and labor union members.

It criticized Iran's justice system, which it says has "persistently failed" to meet international standards and faulted Tehran for using torture and public executions and discriminating against women, girls and ethnic and religious minorities.

It called on the Iranian government to ensure full respect for the rights to assembly and free speech, end its harassment of rights activists and political opponents, stop using torture and ensure full respect for due process of law.

Iran is frequently attacked for human rights abuses, including hanging juveniles, inflicting other cruel punishments including flogging and amputation, imprisoning political dissidents and closing newspapers and Internet sites.

Iran, supported by Pakistan and Zimbabwe, tried to head off adoption of the resolution by urging the assembly to instead approve a motion to take no action on it. U.N. members voted 81-75 with 24 abstentions to reject that motion.

Canada and Finland criticized Tehran for offering a "no action" motion for a second time after a similar procedural ploy failed last month in the assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, which screens human rights resolutions for the full assembly.

The General Assembly action came as U.N. Security Council members negotiated a separate resolution put forward by Britain, France and Germany to impose sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

The Security Council measure is a reaction to Iran's failure to comply with an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or for bombs. Iran says it only wants to produce electricity while Western governments believe its activities are a cover for bomb-making.