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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK
Iran lets in human rights investigators
Student protests in Iran
A recent ban on demonstrations prompted protests

Iran has said it will give immediate access to United Nations investigators to allow them to examine its human rights record.


Human rights groups have now welcomed Iran's new stance, saying they would like to see early visits on summary executions, the independence of the judiciary system and freedom of religion

Iran's ambassador, Mohammed Reza Alborzi, told the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, that specialists would "be welcome".

Although the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has continued to issue reports on Iran highlighting violations, it is the first time in six years that UN investigators have been allowed into the country.

Iran's open invitation for missions signifies a total reversal of policy.

Encouraged to co-operate

Since 1996, Iran has blocked all visits from rapporteurs.

President Bush
Previously Bush thinks Iran is part of an "axis of evil"
Now its says specialists in many different types of rights may visit and spend time examining conditions.

It is unclear when the first visits will take place.

However, a spokesman for the Commissioner said that the discussion process for the proposed trips could begin immediately.

Iran's human rights record has been scrutinized by the Commissioner's office for the past 19 years.

But back in April, when the body last sat, a close vote removed Iran from the list of countries assigned a special investigator, sparing it from examination at next year's session.

Longer-term co-operation?

At the time, human rights watch groups deplored the move, but it is understood that the vote encouraged Iran to co-operate with UN investigators.

Human rights groups have now welcomed Iran's new stance, saying they would like to see early visits on summary executions, the independence of the judiciary system and freedom of religion.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson said she hoped the Iranian government's move would "pave the way for long-term co-operation with the Commission".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Woolridge
"Diplomatic ties are still severed between Iran and the US"
See also:

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