Iran blasts appointment of UN rights investigator

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 2:34 AM
Iran blasts appointment of UN rights investigator

Tehran lashed out on Friday at the decision by U.N.'s top human rights body to appoint a special investigator to look into allegations of human rights abuses in Iran, saying the newly created post is "politically motivated" and meant to divert attention from abuses in the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast claimed the vote at the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday came "under U.S. pressure."

The council narrowly approved a U.S. and Swedish-backed proposal for a special rapporteur for the Islamic Republic.

The decision marks the first time since the Geneva-based council's creation in 2006 that a new position for a country-specific investigator was created for a U.N. member, rather than merely extending the mandate of a previously existing one. The proposal was narrowly approved with a 22-7 vote, with 14 nations abstaining. Four of the council's 47 nations did not participate.

An outside expert is to be appointed to the new position when the council next meets in June.

Iran, which is not a council member, considers the vote meddling with the country's internal affairs.

"The passage of the anti-Iranian resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council cannot be justified. It is politically motivated and it was approved under U.S. pressure," Mehmanparast said in a speech broadcast on state television.

"The objective behind this resolution was to pressure the Islamic Republic of Iran and ... divert attention from human rights abuses in the West, specifically in the U.S.," he said.

The White House welcomed the move, with President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon saying it is "a historic milestone that reaffirms the global consensus and alarm about the dismal state of human rights in Iran."

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said there has been "an unacceptable deterioration" in human rights in Iran and the new U.N. investigator could "provide encouragement to the many Iranians who bravely continue to speak up for their rights and the rights of others."

Hague said Iranian authorities since the 2009 elections "have systematically sought to silence all dissenting voices, through detaining and harassing human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and most recently opposition leaders (Mir Hossein) Mousavi and (Mahdi) Karroubi."

Iran's U.N. Ambassador Seyed Mohammad Reza Sajjadi, however, told the council the United States has committed human rights abuses against Palestinians by supporting Israel, against Afghan civilians and against secretly held detainees who also have been tortured.

The U.N. has appointed dozens of independent special investigators, or rapporteurs, on topics ranging from torture and human trafficking to food security and cultural rights. It also has fewer than 10 such appointees for countries such as Myanmar, North Korea and Sudan.