Canada tabled a resolution at the UN last Thursday condemning Iran’s human rights record and will introduce it this coming week. It is the sixth resolution which Canada has tabled at the U.N. since 2003. The resolution has been passed each year by a vote of the membership of the U.N.General Assembly, attracting many co-sponsors, including the EU.
Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s Foreign Minister, told the House of Commons last week that Iran’s “appalling behavior” and “outrageous handling of human rights” must receive the condemnation of the world.
According to reports by Canadian journalist Steven Edwards, this year’s resolution calls on the U.N. to have special investigators examine Iran’s human rights situation, and is generally more strongly worded than in previous years. Edwards also points out that the EU Presidency, currently held by Sweden, as well as representatives of Norway, worked with Canada on the drafting of the resolution.
The resolution follows similar resolutions calling attention to Iran’s human rights record that were passed this past month by the EU Parliament and the U.S. House of Representatives. (See http://www.bahai.us/House_Res_passes and http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=P7-RC-2009-0104&language=EN.)
For the past six years Canada has presented a resolution condemning Iran’s human rights record to the UN General Assembly. The resolution has passed each year with a number of countries joining Canada to co-sponsor the resolution and, after intense debate, the resolution has succeeded in securing a majority vote of UN member-countries.
Among a list of concerns, the resolution calls attention to the persecution of the Baha’i community of Iran, including Iran’s continued detention of seven Baha’i leaders held “without adequate or timely access to legal representation.” Charged with “espionage for the State of Israel and insulting religious sanctities”, the prisoners have been held in a state of legal limbo in violation of international legal standards. The charges against the Baha’is are false. The motivation behind the persecution of Baha’is in Iran is due entirely to Baha’i religious beliefs according to the UN Office of the Baha’i International Community and international observers.
This past March the Canadian Parliament passed a unanimous all-party motion condemning Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, and Canada’s Foreign Minister issued a statement in May asking Iran to release the Baha’i prisoners.
Torture, extra judicial killing, free speech suppression, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and persecution of human rights activists are among the issues the pending UN resolution says require investigation. The resolution also notes the fact that Iran has “not fulfilled any requests from [UN] special mechanisms to visit the country in four years” in order to investigate that country’s human rights record. Iran has ignored “numerous communications.”