12.10.2012 – MESOP – The UN human rights expert on Iran Ahmed Shaheed has painted a bleak picture of rights abuses in the Islamic Republic. The UN human rights expert on Iran has painted a bleak picture of rights abuses in the Islamic Republic.Ahmed Shaheed said human rights activists are beaten with batons, raped, deprived sleep and undergo mock hangings among other things. Shaheed said Iran has executed at least 223 people over the first half of 2012, most for drug-related offensives.

Shaheed also condemned Iran’s reliance on stoning as a form of punishment. Shaheed said Iran is now cracking down on Internet users, with 19 bloggers and Internet commentators now detained, with four of them sentenced to death in January after being accused of “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth.”

“Sakhi Righi” was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “publishing false information” and “committing acts against national security” in what is believed to be the harshest sentence yet to a blogger in the country.

Iran is also cracking down even more on websites deemed to be promoting “terroristic, espionage, economic or social crimes.”

Shaheed also reported that at least 150 journalists have fled the country since the contested 2009 reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Shaheed said Iran has detained more journalists than any other nation on the planet.  The Committee to Protect Journalists, cited by Shaheed, counted 179 reporters, editors and photojournalists jailed in Iran in December, 2011. Shaheed said his report is based in part on 99 interviews conducted with individuals inside and outside Iran between February and June.

Iran’s UN mission was unavailable for comment.

When the report was being prepared in March, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Shaheed was relying on statements from “terrorists.” The document will be the basis for a UN General Assembly resolution critical of Iran’s human rights violations. That resolution should come up for a vote in December.