The five UN experts denounced the restrictions on the rights of Iranian citizens, especially women, to political participation, and the severe limitations on journalists and freedoms of expression and assembly. (Photo credit IPS/Garry Knight)

In a statement released today, five United Nations human rights experts warned that Iran is seriously violating international law by its continued discrimination against women presidential candidates and the ongoing suppression of the press, as well as its violations of freedoms of association and assembly. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomes the statement and urges Iranian authorities to adhere to international law and release all journalists and prisoners of conscience.

The five UN experts denounced the restrictions on the rights of Iranian citizens, especially women, to political participation, and the severe limitations on journalists and freedoms of expression and assembly. The Campaign joins them in reiterating the call to immediately end the ongoing detentions of the two opposition leaders from the 2009 presidential elections and of the hundreds of prisoners of conscience imprisoned for peaceful expression, association, and assembly.

In the lead-up to Iran’s June 14 presidential election, the Campaign has documented an intense crackdown on journalists and the media, with more than 20 journalists arrested since January 2013 and several publications closed or threatened by the Intelligence Ministry not to write about the election.

Referring to the decision of Iran’s Guardian Council, which vets presidential candidates, to approve only 8 men of the 686 individuals of both genders who registered as candidates, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed said, “This mass disqualification including that of women wishing to stand in the presidential elections is discriminatory and violates fundamental right to political participation, and run contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [(ICCPR)], which Iran has ratified.”

The head of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women, Kamala Chandrakirana, added, “This will exacerbate [women’s] already existing severe underrepresentation in public, political and professional life.”

The ICCPR requires rights to be recognized without distinction of any kind, including race, sex, gender, religion, and political or other opinion. Before the Guardian Council announced its list of approved candidates on May 21, a member of the Guardian Council publicly stated that Iranian law bars women from the position of the presidency.

The UN experts also noted reports that more than 40 journalists are currently imprisoned in Iran, several political websites have been censored, the internet has been choked, and electronic communications including text messages have been blocked intermittently.

“Threats to journalists and the constriction of freedom of expression in different media during electoral times seriously undermine the inclusiveness and fairness of the electoral process,” UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression Frank La Rue said in the statement.

Meanwhile, the two opposition leaders who ran in the 2009 election, Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, remain under illegal house arrest begun February 2011 without any charges. No opposition candidates have been granted permission to run in the 2013 presidential elections.