As the execution of Reyhaneh Jabberi and her mother’s moving eulogy continued to reverberate within Iran and outside it, the United Nations issued a scathing criticism of Tehran’s human rights policies.
First came the latest report by UN special rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed, which was presented to the UN General Assembly at the end of October. The report found that while the situation of women had worsened in Iran, its execution rate was surging ever higher, reaching a peak of no less than 852 between July 2013 and June 2014. The report also expressed shock at Jabberi’s harsh sentence — and at President Hassan Rouhani’s failure to prevent it, suggesting that his power to bring change to Iran was “limited” (Iran’s response? “No country can claim to be perfect … the overall performance of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of all unlawful sanctions and pressures has been progressive and positive”).
The end of October also brought forth the Geneva UPR on Iran, which once again revealed a wide range of human rights violations in Iran.
In addition, the UN adopted a Canadian resolution blasting Iran’s “alarming high frequency and increase in the death penalty,” as well as restriction of freedoms and treatment of women and minorities, leading Iran to accuse Ottawa of “hostile” and “politically-motivated” hypocrisy.
While The New York Times pointed out that the statistics serve as a stark contrast to Rouhani’s efforts “pushing for a diplomatic breakthrough with the West,” a recent Euronews interview with Iranian Human Rights Council head Mohammad Javad Larijani suggested UN engagement may have created a policy shift in Tehran when it comes to executions.
A recent op-ed by Haleh Esfandiari on The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire shed light on the methods Iran uses to jail “endangered species” such as journalists and human rights lawyers, from the unannounced arrival of security officials at their home or workplace to arrest them to threatening those who have been released with harm to their loved ones should they discuss what they have been through at the hands of the Iranian judicial system.
No country is perfect – but despite a rumored policy shift, Iran doesn’t even get points for trying.