Head of state: Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei (Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
Head of government: Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President)
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 75.1 million
Life expectancy: 71.9 years
Under5 mortality (m/f): 33/35 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 82.3 per cent
The authorities maintained severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Sweeping controls on domestic and international media aimed at reducing Iranians' contact with the outside world were imposed. Individuals and groups risked arrest, torture and imprisonment if perceived as cooperating with human rights and foreign based Persian language media organizations. Political dissidents, women's and minority rights activists and other human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and students were rounded up in mass and other arrests and hundreds were imprisoned. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees were routine and committed with impunity. Women continued to face discrimination under the law and in practice. The authorities acknowledged 252 executions, but there were credible reports of more than 300 other executions. The true total could be even higher. At least one juvenile offender was executed. Sentences of death by stoning continued to be passed, but no stonings were known to have been carried out. Floggings and an increased number of amputations were carried out.
Iran's human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in February; the government subsequently accepted all general recommendations but rejected those calling for specific reforms to end religious and gender discrimination and the application of the death penalty, especially against juvenile offenders. The government also rejected recommendations that it cooperate with certain UN human rights bodies.
In April, Iran was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In August, the CERD Committee expressed concern at the "limited enjoyment of political, economic, social and cultural rights" by various minority communities, in particular with regard to housing, education, freedom of expression and religion, health and employment. In September, the UN Secretary General highlighted "many areas of continuing concern with respect to human rights" in a report to the General Assembly. In December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution expressing concern about human rights in Iran and called for government action to end violations.
Scores if not hundreds of Iranians continued to flee the country in fear for their safety because of the high levels of repression by the authorities.
International tension persisted over Iran's nuclear enrichment programme. In June, the UN Security Council imposed further sanctions on Iran over concerns that it was developing nuclear weapons.
Armed groups killed civilians in bomb attacks. For example, an attack in July on a mosque at Zahedan killed 21 people, including worshippers, and injured hundreds of others. Another, near a mosque in Chabahar, killed at least 38 people and injured over 50. The People's Resistance Movement of Iran (PRMI), an armed group also known as Jondallah, claimed responsibility for both. In September, a bomb attack in Mahabad killed at least 10 people and injured over 80, including children, following which Iranian security forces were reported to have crossed into Iraq and killed at least 30 people. Kurdish groups denied responsibility for the attack.
Freedom of expression, association and assembly
The government entrenched the severe curbs on freedom of expression, association and assembly it had imposed in 2009. The security forces were deployed in force to deter or disperse further public protests. Scores if not hundreds of people arrested in connection with the mass protests in 2009 continued to be held, most of them serving prison terms, although others were released. Scores more were arrested throughout 2010.