Britain and France Say U.N. Human Rights Council Should Probe Election Violence in Iran
The demand came during the U.N. Human Rights Council's first review of Iran's rights record since the body was founded in 2006.
Iran should invite U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to"investigate the post-election violence and independently assess the human rights situation," said Britain's ambassador in Geneva, Peter Gooderham.
France -- like Britain a member of the U.N. Security Council and a frequent critic of abuses in Iran -- urged Iran to accept an international panel to probe street clashes and arrests of political dissidents in the wake of the June 12 elections.
Opposition groups claim the vote, which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, was fraudulent.
A high-ranking U.S. official, too, addressed the election violence, but made no mention of an international investigation.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner called on Iran to lift restrictions on free speech, end the reported torture of political prisoners, and stop "show trials" of dissidents.
Speaking during a visit to the Gulf state of Qatar, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Iran on Monday of becoming a military dictatorship
Iran rejected criticism of its record, telling the 47-member council that the country's Islamic constitution safeguards its people's human rights.
Iran "has taken a genuine and long-term approach to safeguarding human rights," said Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary-General of Iran's High Council for Human Rights.
Monday's three-hour debate before the Geneva-based council was eagerly anticipated by human rights groups, who have strongly criticized Iran's record of executing minors, stifling free speech and restricting the rights of women and minorities.
Dozens of Iranian exiles held a rally outside the U.N.'s European headquarters to protest abuses in Iran.
Several of Iran's allies, including Cuba, Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Nicaragua, defended Tehran's record, citing the government's achievements in promoting cultural, education and health care rights.