The U.N. General Assembly human rights committee has approved a resolution expressing deep concern about rights violations in Iran, including the "alarmingly high frequency" of the use of the death penalty.

Tuesday's vote passed with 78 yes votes from member countries, with 35 voting no and 69 abstaining.

The resolution follows on a report by a U.N. special investigator on human rights and points out that Iran has never allowed him to visit.

Iran's representative protested that the resolution doesn't acknowledge "positive developments" since President Hassan Rouhani took office.

"At the time when many parts of our region are burning in the fires of extremism," the resolution is counterproductive, the diplomat said.

The Canada-drafted resolution calls on Iran to stop abuses including torture. It now goes to the General Assembly.