The Obama administration accused Iran of “severe restrictions on civil liberties,” “disregard” for people’s physical safety and general abuse of human rights on Thursday, days before a deadline for reaching a nuclear deal.
The harsh criticism came in an annual report on the status of human rights around the globe, which also lambasted Russia, Saudi Arabia and other nations for their treatment of political dissidents and residents’ freedoms.
Among other abuses, the State Department chided the Islamic nation for “disappearances,” “unlawful killings” and “judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging.”
A total of 721 people were reportedly executed last year, it said, many after trials that “did not adhere to basic principles of due process.”
The timing of the new report threatens to embarrass Iran ahead of the deadline next week to wrap up negotiations to limit its nuclear program in exchange for rolling back Western sanctions.
Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryDepleted Dems look to Senate for 2020 nominee Voters want to drain the swamp? They can start with Louisiana GOP As Congress adjusts to Trump, Iran put under the pressure it deserves MORE is scheduled to depart for Vienna on Friday to finalize those talks.
“I’m hopeful,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I’m not declaring optimism. I am hopeful.”
Other common targets for U.S. ire also received harsh mention in Thursday’s report, including North Korea and Syria.
“The message at the heart of these reports is that countries do best when their citizens fully enjoy the rights and freedoms to which they are entitled,” Kerry said. “This is a reality, and it is proven out in country after country around the world.”
The report also had strong words for Cuba, where the administration is seeking to renew ties after decades of estrangement.
The Cuban government has relied on “extrajudicial physical assault,” “violent government-organized counter-protests” and “harassment and detentions to prevent free expression,” the report claimed, among other abuses.
The analysis also cited concerns about the growth of radical extremists such as Boko Haram, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda.
“Make no mistake: The world community has an absolute obligation to confront and to defeat these groups, and coercive measures are obviously an essential part of that effort,” Kerry said.