Iran : The UN Committee on Racial Discrimination condemnspervasive discrimination against minorities

On 27 August 2010, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a UN body composed of independent experts, issued its concluding observations regarding the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Committee has notably urged the Iranian authorities to bring domestic laws into compliance with the provisions of the Convention on racial discrimination, notably by reviewing its definition of racial discrimination contained in the Constitution.

FIDH and its Iranian member organizations, as stated in their alternative report submitted to the Committee, consider that both legislation and practices must change in Iran in order to ensure equal rights for ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.

The UN experts expressed also concern at “the limited enjoyment of political, economic, social and cultural rights by, inter alia, Arab, Azeri, Baluchi, Kurdish communities and some communities of non-citizens, in particular with regard to housing, education, freedom of expression and religion, health and employment, despite the economic growth in Iran [the State party]”. They also stressed the “lack of sufficient measures to enable persons belonging to minorities to have adequate opportunities to learn their mother tongue and to have it used as a medium of instruction”. They censured the low level of participation of persons from ethnic and religious minorities in public life, and discrimination in the field of employment of state officials and employees. The UN body expressed further concern that language barriers create an obstacle in access to justice for ethnic minorities.

“The CERD is supposed to examine to which extent the States who ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination respect and promote it. This exercise appears to have been particularly difficult regarding Iran because of the lack of information provided by the authorities on the de facto situation of minorities in the country”, declared Karim Lahidji, Vice-president of FIDH and President of LDDHI. The CERD deplored in particular the absence of any statistics on the ethnic composition of the population, the lack of economic and social indicators on the Iranian population disaggregated by ethnicity, as well as the absence of statistical information on complaints lodged, prosecutions launched and penalties imposed in cases of offences relating to racial or ethnic discrimination. “How can the Iranian authorities pretend to fight discrimination if there is not even an effort to collect factual information on the current situation?”, questioned Dr. Lahidji.

FIDH and LDDHI call upon the Iranian authorities to implement fully the CERD recommendations and will issue in the coming weeks a full report on the situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, which will be available on FIDH website.

- Alternative Report submitted by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); The Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI); and Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) for the 77th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,

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