March 24, 2011

Gillibrand Praises UN Decision To Create Human Rights Investigator For Iran

Last Month, Gillibrand Urged Secretary Clinton to Help Establish UN Human Rights Monitor on Iran

Washington, DC – Following today’s UN Human Rights Council decision to establish a UN human rights investigator for Iran, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released the following statement:

“For the first time in over a decade, the UN Human Rights Council is finally responding to Iran’s continuing, brutal abuses by appointing a special investigator. The international community is rightfully alarmed by Iran’s violence overseas and oppression at home. As Americans, it is our duty to send a strong signal that human rights violators will not be tolerated. I commend the UN for taking a strong stance against the abuses of human rights by Iran's regime.”

The UN resolution expressed concern at Iran's crackdown on dissenting figures and surge in executions, calling for Islamic Republic cooperation with the independent UN envoy.

Last month, Senator Gillibrand, along with dozens of her Senate colleagues, urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to work with the Human Rights Council to establish an independent human rights monitor on Iran, to ensure that the country upholds its international human rights obligations. 

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter is below:

Dear Secretary Clinton:

As the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council (HRC) prepares to begin its session on March 1st, we urge you to work at the HRC to establish an independent human rights monitor on Iran. 

The upcoming session of the HRC marks the sixth session since Iran's June 2009 elections.  While Iran has a long history of human rights abuses, those disputed elections spawned one of the largest popular democracy movements of the 21st Century, and unleashed a subsequent campaign of brutal, systematic human rights violations by Iran's government.  This government-sanctioned repression continues to this day, yet the HRC has failed to take any concrete measures to address the situation. 

In January 2011 alone, Iran has executed at least 83 people, including individuals rounded up in post-election protests and charged with enmity against God.  Human rights defenders, lawyers, and pro-democracy activists continue to be targeted for repression and intimidation by the government. 

State-sponsored persecution of religious minorities persists, including the sentencing last year of seven Baha'i leaders to ten years in prison.  And two American hikers languished in prison for over a year before being charged and remain detained to this day.  It is long past time for the HRC to take action to establish a human rights monitor on Iran.

Establishing an independent U.N. human rights monitor charged with monitoring and reporting on Iran's human rights violations is an important effort to provide some protection for Iran's human rights and democracy movement.  You will remember that from 1984 to 2002, an independent human rights monitor on Iran was in place, and some measurable progress was achieved on human rights over that time.  However, this mandate has not been renewed since 2002 and since then the situation in Iran has deteriorated. 

It is important that the United States work through multilateral institutions to ensure Iran upholds its international human rights obligations.  We commend the Administration's efforts to engage the international community regarding human rights violations.  However, human rights violations by the Iranian government continue unabated.  The efforts of the HRC have yet to result in the extension of meaningful protections to the groups and persons being persecuted there. 

There is bipartisan support in Congress for the Administration's commitment to advance human rights through the Human Rights Council.  We believe it is essential that U.S. membership on the HRC be utilized this March to take an overdue step to address Iran's human rights crisis by reestablishing an independent human rights monitor to observe and report on the grave situation in the country. 

Thank you for your consideration.