Iranian official panned for rights abuses to visit UN body

GENEVA (AP) — An upcoming visit to the United Nations’ top human rights body by Iran’s justice minister is attracting criticism since the European Union has issued sanctions against him for rights violations.

Critics say Seyyed Alireza Avaei has no place before the Human Rights Council. He’s among roughly 100 dignitaries expected to attend a council segment Tuesday.

The EU imposed sanctions on Avaei and other Iranian officials in October 2011. It said as president of Tehran’s judiciary, Avaei was responsible for arbitrary arrests, denying prisoners’ rights and increasing executions.

Council spokesman Rolando Gomez said Friday that nations get to decide who speaks for them at the rights body.

Avaei’s presence could cast a shadow on the council, which U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley disparaged last year as a place where rights abusers can whitewash their images.

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