Iran, Islamic Republic of

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Persistent violations
  • Death penalty for children[1]
  • Inadequate and inappropriate juvenile justice system[2]
  • Corporal punishment[3]
  • Violence against children, particularly girls[4]
  • Discrimination against women and girls in personal status laws (including inheritance of nationality)[5]
  • Discrimination against women and girls in access to education[6]
  • Discrimination against children from religious minority backgrounds[7]
  • Inadequate provision of education for children from minority backgrounds[8]
  • Inadequate provision of social services for children with disabilities[9]
  • Early marriage[10]
  • Child labour[11]
  • Trafficking of children[12]
  • Children living on the streets[13]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women,UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants



Introduction

Iran is a west Asian country, bordering Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran has coastlines on the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The revolution of 1979 overthrew the Pahlavi monarchy and ushered in a regime based on the Khomeinist form of political Islam, headed by a leading Shi’ite cleric, appointed by a council of theologians, as Supreme leader and a subordinate popularly elected President. The implementation of Islamic law in Iran leads to widespread and systematic human rights abuses, including the frequent use of the death penalty against both adults and children, alongside imprisonment and corporal punishment for political opposition and “morality offences” such as adultery, 'homosexual behaviour' and consuming alcohol.

Geography

Iran is located at the meeting point of the middle-east and Asia on the Persian Gulf, and shares borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of the country's terrain is barren desert punctuated by oases, particularly in the east, though there is fertile belt along the Caspian Sea to the north. The capital city is Tehran.

Population and language

With a population of 74.8 million, Iran is the second most populous country in the middle-east and north African region, and is continuing to grow at an annual rate of more than one per cent[1]. The vast majority of the population are Muslims (89 per cent Shi'a and 10 per cent Sunni), though there are small communities of Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and follows of the Baha'i faith[2].

Farsi, also known as Persian, is the national language, though Azeri is also widely spoken, particularly around the northwestern town of Tabriz. Kurdish, Arabic, Luri and Baluchi are also spoken within the country.

History and politics

Modern day Iran, formerly Persia, emerged out of one of the greatest empires of the ancient world, which at its peak stretched from Libya in the west to the Indus valley in the east. The country came under Islamic rule in the early 16th century, and has remained so since. The country underwent dramatic changes throughout the 1960s and 70s which led up to the 1979 revolution, in which the ruling Shah was ousted and replaced by religious rule under the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. Post-revolutionary Iranian politics, and the rule of Ayatollah Khomeini, was dominated by eight years of war with Iraq. Ayatollah Khomeini died in 1989, to be replaced by former President Khamene'i who was appointed for life, and continues to hold the office.

Until 1998, political parties were prohibited within Iran, but were introduced following the election of Mohammad Khatami. Under Khatami's leadership, the country experienced a period of comparative liberalisation, in which the parliament ceased to be dominated by the conservatives for the first time, and co-operated with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, suspending its uranium enrichment programmes. Following the parliamentary elections of 2004, however, conservatives retook control of national politics, and the former ultra-conservative Mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, won the national presidency in 2005. By 2006, Iran had relaunched its nuclear research facility and continued to develop its nuclear technology despite prominent and persistent international pressure.

President Ahmedinejad was returned to the office after the 2009 elections, though amid widespread violence and allegations of vote rigging[3]. International tensions have continued to rise throughout the President's second term, in which Tehran has continued to pursue its ambitions of developing nuclear technology. Tensions flared at the start of 2012, when the United States imposed sanctions on Iran's central bank, the main clearing house for oil export profits, and Iran responded with threats to blockade the Strait of Hormuz: the main exit route for oil from the Persian Gulf[4].

Economy

Iran's economy is heavily dependent on the hydrocarbon industries, in which Iran holds the world's second largest gas reserves and the third largest oil reserves. The country is also OPEC's second largest oil producer, and has averaged production of 4 million barrels of oil per day in recent years. The country's heavy reliance on the oil and natural gas industries carry a concomitant susceptibility to commodity prices, a vulnerability that has not been successfully mitigated by the establishment of the Oil Stabilisation Fund. While the increase in oil prices in 2011 and 2012 gave rise to increased national income and GDP, this incoming wealth has also served to significantly raise inflation. In recent years, the government has enacted a series of reforms to move the economy towards a more market oriented approach, though the privatisation of State owned industry has largely been in favour of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp. and other semi-goverrmental organisations[5].

Media and civil society

Reporters Without Borders rated Iran 175 out of 179 countries in its 2011/12 Press Freedom Index, placing the country among the world's most repressive countries in terms of media freedom[6]. The elections of 2009 saw a clampdown on the protest movement in Iran and corresponding repressive practices addressed towards journalists and bloggers. In June 2009 alone, 100 journalists were arrested and 50 driven into exile[7]. Arrests, trials and convictions for press related offences have continued to remain a regular feature of Iranian politics since the elections[8], and in 2012 Iran detained the second largest number of 'netizens' next to China[9]. The repressive measures against press and civil society led Human Rights Watch to conclude that “few if any independent rights organisations can openly operate in the country in the current political climate”[10].

Human rights and children's rights

Iran is home to systematic violations of human rights, including oppressive restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and intolerance of religious freedoms. Use of the death penalty has increased in recent years, and the reform of anti-narcotics laws in particular, lead to the rapid increase in capital sentences carried out in 2011[11]. Executions are most commonly carried out by hanging, though sentences of stoning, beheading, crucifixion, and throwing from a cliff are also possible[12]. Domestic laws allow for the imposition of the death penalty on children, and at least three children were executed in the country in 2011, while more than 100 children remain on death row[13]. Iranian news agencies reported in February 2012 that the Penal Code had been amended to, inter alia, prevent the execution of juveniles, though researchers at Amnesty International reported that the reforms still left children vulnerable to capital punishment. Physical penalties such as floggings continue to be applied, including sentences of “lashes” for offences such as “propaganda against the system” and “insulting officials”[14], as well as adultery, consensual sodomy, kissing another out of lust, lesbianism and consuming alcohol[15].

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2011"
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Iran Country Profile"
  3. The Guardian, "Iran elections Guardian council to examine vote-rigging claims" 18 June 2009
  4. The National Geographic, "Iran's undisputed weapon: Power to block the strait of Hormuz" 6 February 2012
  5. The World Bank, "Iran Country Brief" April 2012
  6. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/12"
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "World Report: Iran"
  8. Reporters Without Borders, "Press freedom violations recounted in real time" 26 April 2012
  9. Reporters Without Borders, "2012: 161 journalists imprisoned"
  10. Human Rights Watch "World Report 2012: Iran"
  11. Ibid.
  12. CRIN, "IRAN: Inhuman Sentencing of Children" 11 February 2010
  13. Human Rights Watch, "World Report 2012: Iran"
  14. Amnesty International, "World Report 2011: Iran"
  15. CRIN, "IRAN: Inhuman Sentencing of Children" 11 February 2010

Sources:

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