U.N. backs human rights envoy for Iran

March 24, 2011 at 1:29 PM

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 (UPI) -- The U.N. human rights council voted Thursday to appoint a special investigator to monitor the human rights situation in Iran amid sweeping condemnation.

The European Union announced Monday it would "swiftly" introduce new measures targeting Iranian officials charged with human rights violations.

EU ministers expressed "deep concern" over the repression of the Iranian people and took note of the "dramatic increase" in the number of executions and "torture" in the country.

The human rights council backed the European resolution to "appoint a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic republic of Iran."

The United Nations called on Iran to cooperate fully with the council and give the envoy access to the country to report on the human rights condition in Iran.

U.S. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe in a statement said Washington was "gravely concerned" about deteriorating human rights conditions in Iran.

"Since the latest report on the human rights situation in Iran to the General Assembly in Sept. 2010, the situation had worsened and the report documented imputation, flogging and acts of torture carried out by the government of the Islamic republic of Iran and death sentences of men and women by stoning," she said.

Mohammed Reza Sajjadi, the Iranian envoy, lashed out at Washington, criticizing its role at the human rights council while at the same time supporting the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

"The government of Iran had worked wholeheartedly to ensure the human rights of its people," he added.

The council backed the measure in a 22-to-7 vote with 14 abstentions.

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