On 28 September 2020, Swedish Member of the European Parliament Evin Incir of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, filed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell:
“For more than 40 years, the regime in Iran has attacked human rights and freedoms by targeting political opponents, opposition activists, women and minorities. In its latest report published on 2 September 2020, Amnesty International describes how demonstrators detained after major protests in Iran last autumn have been tortured on numerous occasions. Harsh sentences have been handed down against many demonstrators, journalists, trade union leaders and lawyers who have criticised the regime, including corporal punishment and the death penalty. In addition, prisoners who are ill are being denied the right to care. The internationally acclaimed wrestler, Navid Afkari, who was executed on 12 September 2020 for protesting against the regime, is the latest victim. But he will not be the last.
We all have a duty to stand up for universal values. This means we need to speak out, rather than say nothing, and we need to do more.
1. Has VP/HR Borrell brought up these systematic breaches and restrictions of human rights with the Iranian regime? And is consideration being given to taking a tougher stance against Iran, given the worsening situation?
2. How does VP/HR Borrell intend to step up engagement and bring more pressure to bear on Iran to uphold fundamental human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, in accordance with conventions it too has signed (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)?
3. What is VP/HR Borrell doing to prevent death sentences being carried out against Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammadi, Ali Younesi – whose brother lives in Sweden – and other human rights activists?”
On 8 January 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell, formally responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “the High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP) is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Iran. These serious concerns extend inter alia to: the continued lack of respect for the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly; Iran’s treatment of detained individuals and their ability to have prompt access to counsel and medical treatment; and Iran’s ongoing use of capital punishment in violation of international law. Specifically, the HR/VP clearly condemned the execution and the clear lack of respect for Mr Afkari’s due process rights during a speech on Iran to the European Parliament on 7 October 2020, and the HR/VP’s spokesperson had issued a statement on Ms. Sotoudeh’s conviction on 9 March 2019.
As part of the Union’s commitment to address all issues of concern, the European Union (EU) has repeatedly urged the Iranian authorities to respect fundamental human rights in accordance with international human rights law and standards. Iran must ensure that detained individuals are kept in safe and hygienic conditions, and that as many prisoners as possible are released on medical furlough, given the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the country. The HR/VP has also reiterated his call for the release of all political prisoners as well as those peaceful demonstrators detained following the November 2019 protests in Iran.
The EU regularly raises the overall human rights situation with Iran as part of bilateral contacts at all levels. This includes raising concern about individual cases — in particular cases of individuals who are at risk of being executed. Since April 2011, the EU has also adopted restrictive measures, including asset freezes and travel bans, for individuals and entities responsible for serious human rights violations and a ban on exports to Iran of equipment that can be used for internal repression and of equipment for monitoring telecommunications. The Council is regularly reviewing these restrictive measures in light of developments in Iran.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/people-police-protest-water-shield-2591693/