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Iran: Human Rights

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent (a) assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Iran and (b) discussions he has had with the Government of Iran on human rights. (202773)

Iran’s overall human rights record is poor. We have a number of concerns about human rights violations in Iran, including the increasing use of the death penalty (and its continued use for juvenile offenders) and the growing restrictions on any form of dissent or organised protest. Human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, trade unionists, non-governmental organisation workers and students continue to face pressure including intimidation, questioning, arrests and sentences on charges of ‘acting against national security’ or ‘propaganda against the system’. Newspapers and magazines are regularly closed down and websites blocked for criticising the Government or crossing red lines. Iran’s failure to live up to its commitments under the international human rights conventions it has signed up to is particularly disappointing.

We remain committed to supporting international human rights standards in Iran and regularly raise our concerns with the Iranian authorities. We usually raise human rights issues with the Government of Iran through the EU, in order to maximise impact and emphasise that our concerns are shared across a range of countries. So far this year the EU has raised human rights issues with the Iranian authorities at least seven times in meetings and made public statements on a number of issues including individual death sentences, the treatment of members of the Baha’i faith, detained human rights defenders and students, and the draft Islamic penal code. We also discuss human rights issues bilaterally with Iranian officials. Most recently, on 6 March, I issued a statement calling for the release of two detained trade unionists in Iran, and on 1 April I called in the Iranian ambassador to raise our concerns about articles of the draft penal code that would make apostasy punishable by death.