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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  A U-N special investigator says Iran is making 
significant progress toward a more-fee society.  Lisa 
Schlein in Geneva reports the investigator told the U-
N Human Rights Commission he expects the changes in 
Iran to accelerate during the next 12-months.
TEXT:  U-N investigator Maurice Copithorne says the 
trend to change in Iran is irreversible.  He says the 
big question is the speed at which reforms progress.
Mr. Copithorne says Iran is a society in significant 
political turmoil.  There is resistance to change from 
hard-line elements in society, but he says this 
resistance is a reflection of greater freedom of 
expression in Iran.
            /// COPITHORNE ACT ONE ///
      In other words, it is the substantial freedom of 
      expression that now exists that, in a sense, 
      permits us to have a fairly good idea of 
      resistance to further change that still exist.  
      I believe that out of this new freedom of 
      expression, that a sense of accountability is 
      now emerging. 
            /// END ACT ///
Mr. Copithorne says the trend toward a freer, more 
open society is having a positive impact on the human-
rights situation in Iran.  But he also says serious 
human-rights violations continue.  He says he has 
compiled many cases of torture, arbitrary arrests, 
disappearances, and suspicious deaths.  
He says significant progress is being made with regard 
to the status of women in areas such as education, 
training, and health, but he says women still suffer 
from inequality and discrimination.  
In his report, Mr. Copithorne discusses what he calls 
intimidation and harassment of ethnic and religious 
minorities.  He says members of the Baha'i faith 
continue to face prolonged imprisonment, confiscation 
of holy places, and denial of the right to assemble.  
The U-N investigator also says reform of Iran's legal 
and judiciary system is absolutely critical.
            /// COPITHORNE ACT TWO ///
      There is also under the same general head of 
      reform of the legal system, the need to really 
      work on the elements of fair trial.  I think 
      with some of the high profile cases in the past 
      six-months and still today, we are seeing what 
      amounts to a denial of a fair trial by any 
      recognized standards.
X            /// END ACT ///
Mr. Copithorne says there is only slow progress in 
official investigations into several politically 
charged violent incidents in the past 18-months.  And 
he says he expects human-rights violations to continue 
while Iran struggles to become a society based on the 
rule of law.   (SIGNED)
30-Mar-2000 11:24 AM EDT (30-Mar-2000 1624 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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