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Nobel Laureate Says Iranian Rights Situation 'Deteriorating'

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi
Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi says a recently released report underscores Iran's weakening human rights situation, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Ebadi spoke to Radio Farda after Amnesty International (AI) released its annual human rights report on May 27, in which the group scathingly criticizes the Iranian government.

"Unfortunately, what is in the report is true," said Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Iran. "The human rights situation in Iran is deteriorating. [The government] is executing political prisoners, denying their families the dead bodies and the right to hold funeral ceremonies. The conditions in the prisons are also grave."

The AI report highlighted ongoing violations of women's rights in Iran.

Ebadi said that Iran's failure to sign the 1979 UN convention on the "Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women" contradicts its recent election to a seat on the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.

The AI report also criticized Iran's widespread use of harsh punishment, particularly execution.

Ebadi, a lawyer and former judge, strongly criticized the practice of execution by stoning, which still exists under Iranian law. She called it the "weakest point in Iran's judicial system."

She also said the situation facing political prisoners is very bad, "even worse than [that facing] ordinary prisoners.”

Drewery Dyke, an Amnesty International researcher on Iran, told Radio Farda on May 27 that the handling of the case of Neda Agha Soltan, a young Iranian shot dead during the June postelection protests in Tehran, is in indication of the lack of transparency and rule of law in the country.

The video of Soltan’s death, posted on YouTube, has been watched by millions of people and became a symbol of the postelection violence.

"All of us witnessed the killing of Neda Agha Soltan," said Dyke, "but what was the reaction shown by the Iranian officials? Did they start any transparent investigation? Did they invite any family member to participate in the investigation? No they did not."

Dyke called for UN experts to be allowed to visit Iran to monitor the country's human rights situation. Dyke told Radio Farda that Iran "is not responding positively" to that proposal.