Several countries criticized Iran’s widespread human rights abuses in a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

Several countries condemned on Monday the extent of human rights violations in Iran during a UN meeting, denouncing the sharp increase in death sentences and executions.

A handful of nations, including Russia, China and Cuba, however, offered Tehran some support during sessions at the Human Rights Council putting Iran’s record under the microscope.

“I remain very concerned at the ongoing executions and spike in death penalty sentences observed,” said Javaid Rehman, the council’s special rapporteur on the rights situation in Iran.

“At least 834 people were executed in 2023 – a 43% increase compared to 2022,” he said, as he presented his latest report to the council, the UN’s top rights body.

Several countries shared his views, urging Iran to impose a moratorium on executions at the very least.

“France is very concerned by the alarming increase in the number of death sentences and executions,” said the French ambassador Jerome Bonnafont.

“Sixteen of the 24 women executed worldwide in 2022 were executed in Iran, and at least 22 women were executed in Iran in 2023 – the highest number since 2013,” he added.

US ambassador Michele Taylor said that Iran continued to “intimidate, abuse and imprison” rights activists, journalists, lawyers, religious minorities, cultural figures and political dissidents.

“Many detainees reported that authorities use torture, sexual and gender-based violence and threats of violence to extract confessions that have been used as the basis for death sentences,” Taylor said.

Her comments echoed those voiced by others including the European Union, Britain, the Nordic and Baltic countries and some South American states such as Argentina.

However, Washington’s remarks triggered an interjection from Tehran’s representative Somayeh Karimdoost.

“We are deeply concerned by the inflammatory and provocative language used,” she said.

In replying to Rehman’s speech, she said his report was “not factual nor is it professional,” let alone fair or reflective of Iran’s “constant progress in promotion and protection of human rights.”

Russia, Belarus, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Syria shared support for Tehran, as did China, which said that appointing such country-specific special rapporteurs without the consent of the countries concerned would only lead to “confrontations and antagonism.”

With AFP