Monday, June 30, 2008

New House Resolution on Human Rights in Iran

On June 26, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) introduced H.Res. 1310, which expresses “the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Iran's lack of protection for internationally recognized human rights creates poor conditions for religious freedom in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The resolution is co-sponsored by Representatives Bob Filmore (D-CA) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). It was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

H.Res. 1310 resolves:

"That the House of Representatives--

(1) calls for the release of all religious prisoners in Iran and for United States officials, at the highest levels, to vigorously speak out publicly about the deteriorating conditions for freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief in Iran, including drawing attention to the need for the international community to hold authorities accountable in specific cases where severe violations have occurred;

(2) calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor carefully and demand compliance with the recommendations of the representatives of those special mechanisms that have already visited Iran, particularly those of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion on Expression;

(3) encourages the United Nations Human Rights Council to continue to use its procedures to maintain oversight conditions for freedom of religion or belief in Iran, including, as Iran has issued a standing invitation, continued visits and reporting by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and other relevant special rapporteurs and working groups;

(4) supports--

(A) the continued designation of Iran as a `country of particular concern' under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom;

(B) funding budgeted to promote democracy and human rights in Iran that includes support for effective initiatives to advance freedom of religion or belief, as well as ways to promote rule of law programs that specifically seek to protect religious minorities;

(C) adequate funding for United States public diplomacy entities, such as Voice of America and Radio Farda, and the expansion and development of new programming solely focused on human rights, including the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, in Iran;

(D) supports the commission of an independent review of Voice of America Persian and Radio Farda to ensure that the programming reflects the basic tenants of freedom of information, equality, transparency, and journalistic integrity that America espouses;

(E) a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning severe violations of human rights, including freedom of religion of belief, in Iran, and calling for officials responsible for such violations to be held accountable; and

(F) the establishment of a diplomatic envoy to the nation immediately to establish dialogue with the Government of Iran and deepen relationships with the Iranian people; and

(5) calls on the Government of Iran to--

(A) immediately release all prisoners who have been detained on account of their religion or belief;

(B) immediately release all prisoners of conscience who have been detained on account of their political dissidence;

(C) modify the draft penal code in order to respect the obligations under the international human rights conventions to which the Government of Iran is a party;

(D) uphold its international commitments by respecting and protecting the human rights of all its citizens; and

(E) ratify and fully comply with international human rights instruments and cooperated with United Nations human rights mechanisms."

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