My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has spoken to Secretary Clinton by telephone since the Iranian elections on 12 June 2009. We continue to stay in close contact with US officials.
The UK and US share concerns about the Iranian authorities’ heavy handed response to post-election protests. Both agree that it is for the Iranian people to decide their own government but that it is incumbent on the Iranian authorities to address the allegations of irregularities.
The Government remain deeply concerned by the increasing use of capital punishment in Iran, which has one of the highest per capita execution rates in the world. We regularly make representations to the Government of Iran, in our bilateral contacts and through the EU, to express general concern about the use of the death penalty in Iran and to raise individual execution cases. We have done so on at least 20 separate occasions in 2009.
In an EU presidency statement dated 5 July 2009, we strongly condemned the recent executions in Iran, in particular the execution of 20 persons on 4 July 2009, in the city of Karaj. Alongside our EU partners we will continue to call on the Iranian authorities to abolish the death penalty completely and, in the meantime, to establish a moratorium on executions as urged by UN General Assembly resolutions 62/149 and 63/168.
Iran's human rights record has continued to deteriorate throughout 2009. Even before the recent unrest we were particularly concerned by worrying signs of growing pressure on anyone with foreign contacts, including numerous arrests on counts of espionage and threatening national security. We are also witnessing an increasing use of the death penalty, and the continued practice of juvenile executions.
The violence and brutality we witnessed in response to peaceful protests following the elections only served to compound the genuine concerns long held by the international community with regards to Iran's human rights record. In the aftermath of the elections we are concerned that large numbers of political opponents, students, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders have been arrested and remain in detention. We are concerned about the conditions under which they are being detained, and that they are being denied access to due legal process.
We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Iranian authorities regarding human rights violations and will continue to do so. The Iranian Government must heed strong calls from the international community and its own people to live up to its freely undertaken human rights commitments by respecting basic human rights and democratic freedoms.