The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to appoint a special human rights investigator on Iran for the first time in 10 years.

Reuters reports that 22 members of the 44-member forum supported the motion sponsored by the U.S. and Sweden, while seven voted against it and 14 abstained.

The Council expressed grave concern over Iran’s clampdown on dissidents and opposition figures and its surge in the use of the death penalty. They urged the Islamic Republic to cooperate fully with the UN envoy.

U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told the UN council that the U.S. and its allies are gravely concerned that the state of human rights is deteriorating in Iran.

Iranian representatives, however, condemned the council decision, calling it politically motivated and orchestrated by the U.S.

A report published yesterday by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon describes the continued crackdown on Iran’s opposition, including the arrest and imprisonment of journalists, lawyers and bloggers, and reports of torture and unfair trials.

In his 18-page report, Ban Ki-moon condemns the execution of political prisoners, juvenile offenders and drug traffickers, and cautions that their numbers have increased.

The report notes that the Iranian delegations did not give any clear response to the concerns of the UN secretary general and merely resorted to general statements and sloganeering.