Rouhani has not increased freedoms in Iran, U.N. chief says

(Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has failed to fulfil campaign promises to allow greater freedom of expression and there has been a sharp rise in executions since his election, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

Rouhani, who won a landslide in June, led Iran to an initial nuclear deal with world powers. But, perhaps wary of further antagonizing powerful hardliners, he has not made significant reforms at home that moderate voters had hoped for.

In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Ban highlighted the prevalent use of capital punishment in Iran and called for the release of activists, lawyers and journalists as well as political prisoners that he said were in custody for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly.

“The new administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in,” Ban said.

“Both offline and online (news) outlets continue to face restrictions including closure,” he said.

Iranians expressing dissenting views or beliefs still face arrest and prosecution, he added.

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