President Obama signed the ‘Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010’ (CISADA), which was prepared by the One Hundred Eleventh Congress of the United States of America’ at its Second Session, on Tuesday 5th January, 2010. The ‘preamble’ claims that the purpose of the Act is to ‘amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by expanding economic sanctions against Iran’.
At a press conference at the U.S. State Department on Wednesday 29th September, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that CISADA was the first act by the US to have ever imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights violations. It enables the U.S. government to target individual Iranians and subject them to financial sanctions and U.S. visa denials. The Secretary of State further expressed
“...solidarity with [the] victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom. By doing so, we convey our strong support for the rule of law, and we speak out for those unable to speak for themselves because they are jailed or frightened or fear retribution against themselves or their families”.
The provision that addresses the human rights abuses in Iran is contained in ‘Section 105’ of CISADA, which is titled ‘Imposition of Sanctions on Certain Persons Who are Responsible for or are Complicit in Human Rights Abuses Committed Against Citizens of Iran or their Family Members After the June 12, 2009, Elections in Iran’. In its complementing annexation, ‘Executive Order 13553 of September 28, 2010’ the targeted specified officials are listed as follows:
1. Mohammad Ali Jafari [Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, born September 1, 1957]
2. Sadeq Mahsouli [Minister of Welfare and Social Security, former Minister of the Interior and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for Law Enforcement, born 1959]
3. Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei [Prosecutor-General of Iran, former Minister of Intelligence, born circa 1956]
4. Saeed Mortazavi [Head of Iranian Anti-Smuggling Task Force, former Prosecutor-General of Tehran, born 1967]
5. Heydar Moslehi [Minister of Intelligence, born 1956]
6. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar [Minister of the Interior and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for Law Enforcement, born 1956]
7. Ahmad-Reza Radan [Deputy Chief of the National Police, born 1963 or 1964]
8. Hossein Taeb [Deputy Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander for Intelligence, former Commander of the Basij Forces, born 1963]
At first glance this appears to be a positive step taken by the U.S. Government, given many Iranians who live in Iran constantly look to the outside world for any indication of support against the gross violations of human rights systematically inflicted against the people in Iran. Much can be presented on the above-listed motley crew; however, for the purposes of expediency, the role of Saeed Mortazavi in the gross human rights abuses will be brought to light. He is also known as the ‘Butcher of Evin’, as he was behind the many torture sessions of detainees, including the torture of the detained Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi, who died in custody as a result of her injuries from the rape and beatings ordered by Mortazavi. For many, it would be a positive step if such travel bans and financial sanctions were also levied against the likes of President Ahmadinejad.
Let us not become complacent, more assertive diplomacy is needed in order to effectively address the ongoing IRI human rights violations. Recently, the United Nations’ General Assembly’s Third Committee expressed “deep concern at serious ongoing and recurring human rights violations” during its Sixty-fifth Session in document A/C.3/65/L.49. This serves only to remind the IRI authorities that the international community is dissatisfied with the IRI’s human rights record, but offers no compelling influence. Perhaps the UN General Assembly, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, would refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council for consideration in establishing effective forceful diplomacy measures that fall short of military intervention; the Security Council was effective in imposing sanctions in addressing the human rights abuses previously in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. The more assertive action the international community endorses in coercing the IRI to abide by the standards of human rights depicted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the more robust shall be the protection and promotion of human rights world-wide.