Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Concluding observations on the second periodic report of the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by the Committee at its fiftieth session (29 April-17 May 2013)
B. Positive aspects
(a) the significant improvement in narrowing the developmental gap, as reflected by the 67 percent increase in the human development index between 1980 and 2012;
(b) the decrease in the ratio of the population with an income under 1.25 USD per day according to purchasing power parity;
(c) the formulation in 2006 of the National Comprehensive Housing Plan and the adoption in 2007 of the Law on Regulating and Supporting Housing Production and Supply;
(d) the significant increase in the number of women enrolled in the higher education system.
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that all the obligations of the Covenant are fully respected under all circumstances and that Constitutional provisions, in particular articles 4 and 20, are applied in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to its General Comments No.3 (1990) on the nature of States parties’ obligations and No.9 (1998) on the domestic application of the Covenant, and refers to the States parties’ duty, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to establish an independent national human rights institution with a broad human rights mandate, including for economic, social and cultural rights, in line with the Paris Principles, and provide it with adequate human and financial resources.
The Committee urges that the State party take steps to ensure that people with beliefs other than the religions recognized by the State party can fully enjoy all aspects of economic, social and cultural rights, without any discrimination.
The Committee recommends that the State party repeal or amend all legislation that results or could result in discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to combat and prevent discrimination and societal stigma against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and ensure their enjoyment of all the rights enshrined in the Covenant, including unhindered access to employment, social services, health care, and education, in line with article 2(2) of the Covenant and the Committee’s General Comment No.20 (2009) on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that members of the Baha’i community are protected against discrimination and exclusion in every field, including denial of employment and benefits of the pension system. The Committee also recommends that the State party take steps to guarantee, in law and practice, the unhindered access of Baha’i students to universities and vocational training institutions, and to prevent refusals of access and expulsions of students from such institutions based on their belonging to the Baha’i community.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to lift all restrictions on the access to university education, including bans on female and male enrolment, limited quotas for women in certain fields, as well as gender segregation in classrooms and facilities.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to address the declining participation of women in the labour force. The Committee recommends that the State party amend the Civil Code and the Family Protection Laws with the aim to remove the power of a spouse to prohibit the other spouse from entering employment. The Committee also recommends that the State party take steps to increase the number of women in decision-making and judicial bodies at all levels and in all areas.
The Committee recommends that the State party increase its efforts to combat unemployment through specifically targeted measures, in particular aimed at women and youth, including by addressing mismatches between education and labour markets, through increasing the quality of technical and vocational training and education. The Committee also urges the State party to adopt temporary special measures to address the very high unemployment rates in areas with ethnic minorities, and to include information in its next State party report on the progress achieved.
The Committee recommends that the State party ensure full compliance of the gozinesh process with the standards under the Covenant, and thus ensure that employment is not made conditional upon political opinion, previous political affiliation or support, or religious affiliation.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to extend the application of its labour law to all workers, including to those working in places with fewer than five workers and those working in export processing zones.
The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the national minimum wage is set at a level sufficient to provide all workers and their families with a decent standard of living, and strengthen its efforts towards the progressive increase of the minimum wage in accordance with article 7 (a) (ii) of the Covenant. The Committee also recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that Afghan workers are not paid a wage below the level of the minimum wage.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that independent trade unions can be formed and carry out their activities without interference, including unions of teachers, bus workers and sugar-cane workers, as well as the Iran Free Workers’ Union. It recommends that the State party ensure that workers can participate in strikes without facing reprisals The Committee also calls upon the State party to immediately release labour rights activists and members of independent trade unions currently serving prison sentences who acted in conformity with internationally recognized trade union standards.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure universal access to health insurance, providing for coverage for a minimum essential level of benefits to all individuals and families, including access to health facilities, goods and services on a non-discriminatory basis, provision of essential drugs, access to reproductive, maternal (prenatal as well as post-natal) and child health care, and immunization against the major infectious diseases occurring in the community.
The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent legislative steps to specifically criminalize domestic violence, including marital rape. It also recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that victims of domestic violence have access to effective means of redress and immediate protection, including through a sufficient number of safe houses.
The Committee calls on the State party to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for both boys and girls, and to ensure that marriage can be entered into only with the free consent of the intending spouses.
The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent and effective steps to address the very high number of children living and/or working in the street, address the root causes of the phenomenon, and provide all street children with access to health services and education.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to strengthen its national legislation prohibiting child labour in accordance with international standards, in all sectors, including in agriculture, domestic service, and clay/brickmaking. The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure that the implementation of legislation pertaining to child labour is effectively monitored and enforced, including through labour inspections in agriculture and the informal sector, ensuring that employers exploiting child labour are held accountable and that victims of child labour are rehabilitated and are ensured access to education. The Committee recommends that the State party undertake awareness-raising campaigns with a view to eradicating child labour.
The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary steps to further reduce poverty and extreme poverty, in particular in provinces populated by ethnic minorities, such as Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan and Kordestan. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report disaggregated and comparative data, by year and province, on the number of men and women living in poverty and extreme poverty.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that ownership over houses and land, in particular in rural areas, is formally registered, and that the State party actively raise awareness among affected groups of population, including through the dissemination of knowledge, on relevant legal provisions and registry procedures. It recommends that the State party take steps to prevent arbitrary interpretations of article 49 of the Constitution, and to ensure that persons affected by such confiscations have access to an adequate remedy, restitution of their property, and compensation, as appropriate, including in line with the Committee’s General Comment no.7 (1997) on forced evictions. The Committee also requests the State party to include in its next periodic report information on the extent and the root causes of homelessness in the State party. The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its General Comment no. 4 (1991) on the right to adequate housing.
The Committee recommends that the State party take immediate steps, inter alia by increasing budgetary allocations, to improve housing and living conditions in regions traditionally inhabited by ethnic minorities, including access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, electricity, transportation facilities, schools and healthcare centres.
The Committee urges the State party to refrain from forcibly evicting individuals and expropriating land in the context of development projects, including in regions traditionally inhabited by ethnic minorities. It recalls that in cases where eviction or relocation is considered to be justified, it should be carried out in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law. In this regard, the Committee draws the State party’s the attention to its General Comment No.7 (1997) on forced evictions which includes guidance on, inter alia, adequate legal remedies, adequate compensation, and effective and meaningful consultation.
The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent steps to increase the allocation of public funds to improve the health situation of inhabitants of the Sistan-Balochistan province, in particular focusing on the health infrastructure and the provision of adequate water and sanitation.
The Committee recommends that the State party take urgent steps to counter the impact of river diversions and industrial activity in Khuzestan, including environmental pollution and water shortages, on agriculture and human health.
The Committee recommends that the State party address the high drop-out rate of girls in rural areas as well as of Ahwazi Arab children. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to address the high illiteracy rates among Ahwazi Arabs and Azeris. It also recommends that the State party take steps to improve the quality of instruction in and physical infrastructure of schools in rural areas, and to increase the number of female teachers in rural areas.
The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to ensure that all children receive birth certificates and that the lack of such a document is not an impediment for school enrolment of a child. It recommends that the State party take measures to ensure that refugee children have access to education, regardless of whether their parents have registered with the authorities, and that primary education, including enrolment thereto, is offered free of charge. The Committee also recommends that the State party intensify its measures to guarantee an inclusive education for children with disabilities, including through the Organization for Special Children and the Seven-Point Guideline for Universal and Consolidated Education for Children and Students with Special Needs, and to ensure that all children of nomadic communities have access to primary education, including through the establishment of mobile schools.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that ethnic minorities have the opportunity to receive education in their mother tongue, in addition to Farsi.
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure the full and unrestricted enjoyment by ethnic minorities, including the Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, and Baluch, to their right to take part in cultural life, including through the protection of publications and newspapers in minority language from imposed closure. The Committee also recommends that the State party take measures to protect cultural diversity, promote awareness of the cultural heritage of national and ethnic minorities, and ensure favourable conditions for members of those minorities to preserve, develop, express and disseminate their identity, history, culture, language, traditions and customs in line with the Committee’s General Comment no. 21 (2009) on the right of everyone to take part in cultural life.