Iran making human rights progress
Thursday, April 1, 1999, GENEVA (AP) -- The Iranian government is making
progress toward building a more ``tolerant society'' that recognizes human
rights, a U.N. expert said today.
However, the Islamic nation should remain under special scrutiny at
the U.N. Human Rights Commission for at least another year because improvements
are not extensive enough, said Maurice Danby Copithorne, the U.N. specialinvestigator
Copithorne, a Canadian lawyer, cited the killings of prominent dissident
writers at the end of last year as an example of the ``unanswered questions''
about the regime.
He urged the Iranian government to speed up prosecutions of those suspected
of the slayings, including intelligence ministry officials.
The killings were part of a wave of violence, triggered by the intensified
power struggle between supporters of hard-liners and moderates backing
President Mohammad Khatami.
Copithorne spoke to journalists before presenting his report on Iran
to the 53-nation human rights commission. His 26-page report said that
women and members of the Baha'i faith continued to suffer violations.
Despite the problems, Copithorne praised Khatami for trying to ``create
amore tolerant society in which the rule of law plays a part and which
generally recognizes human rights to a considerable degree greater than
in the past.''
However, he said that it was likely to be an uphill struggle and would
take years before real results appeared.
Angry that it remains under the commission's special scrutiny along
with Iraq and Sudan, the Iranian government didn't invite Copithorne to
The report was compiled from discussions with the authorities and other
groups in the United States and Geneva.