EU Must Make Human Rights in Iran a Priority

After receiving several alarming reports of human rights abuses and executions in Iran, it was decided by Chairwoman Hautala of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Chairwoman Lochbihler of the Delegation for Relations with Iran, to discuss these recent developments on 14 March. The execution of Dutch-Iranian citizen Zahra Bahrami was condemned in strong terms[:], while the EU High Representative was urged to raise this case, as well as the on-going case of Sakineh Ashtiani and Nasrin Sotoudeh – and others on death row – with the Iranian authorities.The meeting was also addressed by Dr Rouzbeh Parsi from the EU Institute for Security Studies and Dr Aaron Rhodes from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

In the meeting Chairwoman Hautala welcomed a statement by the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, calling for a halt to all pending death penalty cases and that the EEAS, together with EU Member States, are discussing how to be more effective on human rights issues in Iran. Indeed, preceding the meeting, the European Parliament had on 10 March adopted a report on the EU’s approach towards Iran.

While the nuclear issue features heavily in all considerations and discussions relating to Iran, human rights questions are fundamental and are a key feature of Parliament’s report. Indeed, the Parliament insists that in any future negotiations with Iran, the High Representative should make the human rights situation in the country a priority.

The meeting urged the Commission to implement all the instruments at its disposal for the protection and promotion of human rights in Iran while the EU was pressed to devise additional measures in the context of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights in order to actively protect human rights offenders.