(Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty) | March 11, 2010
In the wake of the UN Human Rights Council’s recent session on Iran, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda correspondent Javad Kouroshy asked Manfred Nowak, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, about his attempts to visit Tehran and his efforts to make governments around the world take better care of their detainees. Nowak also discussed his hopes of seeing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay closed.
RFE/RL: During the UN conference on human rights that took place last month in Geneva, the idea of sending a special UN envoy to Iran was discussed. Your name was mentioned, as well. So my first question is: can a decision by the UN be expected soon?
Manfred Nowak: We are actually not talking about a decision by the UN Human Rights Council, which replaced the [Human Rights] Commission a few years ago. It really depends on the willingness of the Iranian government to issue a formal invitation to me.
There were several states in the Human Rights Council which — within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review process– made it very clear that Iran, with regard to last year’s incidents, should invite the UN special rapporteur on torture. So far, the Iranian government has not followed up on this proposal, this recommendation. But only recently I had a very positive conversation with the Iranian ambassador in Vienna, and he supports this proposal.
I have to say that I am really concerned about the situation [in Iran]. These reports were denied several times, but I think it would be best to conduct our own investigations on the ground.
I don’t know yet if I will be able to pay a visit to Iran. Basically, Iran has issued a so-called standing invitation to all UN special rapporteurs, meaning that in case such an invitation has been issued by a state, I could address myself to Iran and say that I accept this general invitation and that I would like to pay a visit to Iran in, let’s say, July or September.
Usually, this works fine. But, as I mentioned before, despite this standing invitation, Iran only reluctantly issues invitations to UN special rapporteurs.