UN Authority Figures

U.N. Committee on Information, Vice-Chairman: Iran

"The Iranian government shut down SMS text messaging, jammed mobiles and blocked access to sites such as Facebook" to prevent pro-opposition voters from organizing during the June 2009 presidential election. (Sky News, June 16, 2009)

Mission of the Committee on Information: "...To promote the establishment of a new, more just and more effective world information and communication order intended to strengthen peace and international understanding and based on the free circulation and wider and better-balanced dissemination of information and to make recommendations thereon to the General Assembly." (Committee on Information web-site, "Background Information")

Iran's Term of office: 2009-2010

Iran's Record on Freedom of Information:
"In practice the government severely restricted freedom of speech and of the press...Basic legal safeguards for freedom of expression did not exist, and the independent press was subjected to arbitrary enforcement measures by the government, notably the judiciary. Censorship, particularly self-censorship, limited dissemination of information during the year. Journalists were frequently threatened as a consequence of their work...In December the Tehran prosecutor general announced the creation of a special office to review Internet and text message-related crimes associated with the June 2009 presidential election...The government closely monitored all media outlets, and private media lacked independence in practice. Press members who failed to abide by the government's guidelines faced intimidation, arrest, or closure of their publications. As a result, the government held significant influence over all media in the country...International media did not operate freely; the government required foreign correspondents to provide detailed travel plans and proposed stories before granting visas, and it closely monitored and attempted to influence reporting to garner more favorable coverage...The government imposed significant restrictions on press outlets and banned or blocked some publications that were critical of the government...Public officials often lodged criminal complaints against reformist newspapers that led to their closure, along with fines for offending writers...The press law forbids censorship but also forbids disseminating information that may damage the Islamic Republic or offend its leaders and religious authorities, and censorship occurred. Government officials also routinely intimidated journalists into practicing self-censorship...During the year, the government detained, jailed, tortured, or fined numerous publishers, editors, and journalists (including Internet media) for their reporting...The law also subjects writers to prosecution for instigating crimes against the state or national security or "insulting" Islam; the latter offense is punishable by death...The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance must grant permission to publish any book, and it inspected foreign printed materials prior to their domestic release...[T]he government increased control over the Internet during the year as more citizens used it as a source for news and political debate...All Internet service providers (ISPs) must be approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the government used filtering software to block access to domestic blogs and some Western Web sites..." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2008, Iran)