UN expert hails nuclear deal, says 'now time to focus' on Iran human rights

(Photo: REUTERS / Denis Balibouse)European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (3rd L) delivers a statement during a ceremony next to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L-R) at the United Nations in Geneva November 24, 2013. Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough agreement early on Sunday to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a first step towards resolving a dangerous decade-old standoff.

A United Nations special expert has called on the government in Teheran and the international community to seize the chance created by the agreement on Iran's nuclear program to address human rights in the country.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, congratulated all parties to the negotiation for reaching an agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

He noted that the lifting of economic sanctions will have a beneficial multiplier effect on the human rights situation in the country, especially on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.

"Peace, development and human rights are deeply interlinked," he stressed in a statement.

Since 2012, the expert has warned about the apparent ineffectiveness of humanitarian safeguards against the impact of economic sanctions on the country's human rights situation in his reports to the U.N. General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

The reports outline Iran' s increasing economic hardships and point to staggering inflation, among other issues, as cause for serious concern about protections for the rights to food and health in the country.

"Economic sanctions have directly or indirectly affected all sectors of the country," Shaheed remarked.

"They appear to have contributed to the conditions of austerity including the rising costs of basic commodities, and have seemingly impacted access to medicines, and medical supplies. These circumstances have had a dramatic effect on the standard of living and likely further undermined the full enjoyment of a range of civil, social and economic rights. "


He said, "It is my sincere hope that the successful conclusion of the nuclear talks, which will enable the lifting of economic sanctions, will allow President Hassan Rouhani to focus on his other campaign pledges, specifically those to promote the enjoyment of all human rights by the Iranian people."

The Special Rapporteur urged Iran to spare no effort in addressing long-standing human rights concerns repeatedly raised by the U.N. human rights mechanisms.

He cited especially the alarming surge in executions this past year, increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assemblies, women's rights, discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, and the ongoing prosecution of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.

Shaheed renewed his call on the Iranian authorities to engage constructively and meaningfully with his mandate by allowing a visit to the country, and reiterated his desire to work with the Iranian officials to address human rights challenges in Iran.

The family of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini who is being held in a Teheran jail is one that will be hoping for an addressing of rights issues.

The American Center for Law and Justice said, however, that Saeed is facing new danger because of the Iran nuclear deal noting that tensions are high inside the prison.

It said he told a family member during a July 15 visit that not only does he feel threatened, but believes he is now a target because he is an American citizen, while noting that just over a month ago fellow prisoners attacked the pastor.

The center said that despite the increasing tension in the prison, Pastor Saeed shared a letter urging people to remember God is in control and to pray for the entire world.

"I want you to know that as I wrote the thank you letter to President Obama after he had visited my family in January of this year (which he read at the national pprayer breakfast), that God is in control of all countries and leadership in the world when the body of Christ comes together in united prayer.

"He is in control and He is the One who beautifully writes the history over all governments, presidents, and any P5 1 negotiating team."

The Chaldean Catholic priest who serves as national director of the Pontifical Missionary Society in Iran said that the nation's Christians are rejoicing at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Catholic World News reported July 16.

"I can certainly say that all Christians, along with all the Iranian people are rejoicing because their prayers were answered," Father Hormoz Aslani Babroudi told the Fides news agency.

"We are all happy with this result: we do not consider ourselves foreigners, but Iranians, and we are proud of it," he added. "We pray [to] our Lord Jesus Christ and give thanks to Him for this good news."

Only 5,000 of Iran's 78.2 million people are Catholic.

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