UN rights chief alarmed at violations in Iran

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UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Friday expressed alarm at the "continuing lack of transparency about casualties and the treatment" of some 7,000 detainees in Iran.

In a media briefing, Rupert Colville, UN rights office spokesman, said at least 7,000 people have reportedly been arrested in 28 of Iran's 31 provinces since mass protests broke out on Nov. 15.

"The high commissioner is extremely concerned about the conditions under which they are being held, including their physical treatment, violations of their right to due process, and the possibility that a significant number of them may be charged with offenses that carry the death penalty," said Colville.

He said the UN rights office has information suggesting that at least 208 people, including 13 women and 12 children, have been killed so far in the protests.

"There are also reports, which we have so far been unable to verify, suggesting more than twice that number were killed," Colville added.

Bachelet said that with the high number of reported deaths, "it is essential the authorities act with far greater transparency."

"They must undertake prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all violations that have taken place, including the killing of protesters and reported deaths and ill-treatment in custody," she added.

The UN rights chief also said that those responsible for the deaths must be held accountable.

"There appear to be multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified and is obliged to uphold," said Bachelet.

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