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UN Panel Calls For Human Rights Reform In Iran

United Nations, 17 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A UN General Assembly committee has voted to condemn human rights abuses in Iran, citing a crackdown on media, use of torture, and discrimination against women.

The assembly's human rights committee approved a resolution calling on Iran to carry out widespread reforms required by conventions it has joined. The measure was approved by a vote of 69 to 55, with 51 abstentions.

Canadian UN ambassador Allan Rock, whose country sponsored the resolution, told RFE/RL that he hoped it would promote change in Iran.

"For those many who are denied the right to speak out, for those minorities who suffer persecution in silence, for women who face discrimination, hardships, and sometimes physical harm, it is our desire to improve their lives that motivates this resolution," Rock said.

An Iranian envoy called the resolution's charges baseless. She accused Canada of introducing the measure in response to a domestic outcry over the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi while in custody in Iran in 2003. The envoy said Iran's judiciary continues to investigate the death.

The resolution is not binding but carries symbolic weight. It is expected to be approved by the full Assembly in December.