EU-Iran talks: EU must press for human rights improvements in Iran

As Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi arrives in Brussels today for talks on a proposed Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, Amnesty International has called on the EU to ensure that the human rights clause in such an agreement is given real substance, given the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

"Amnesty International is gravely concerned about the dramatic increase in executions carried out in Iran so far this year, compared to 2000," said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office. "Over the first eight months of this year, 105 executions have been recorded, of which 28 took place in August alone," he said.

"Some hangings are carried out in public, and there are fears that, following reports of a woman being stoned to death after being found guilty of adultery and murder, the authorities may carry out more executions by stoning." In addition, reports indicate a widespread clampdown on freedom of expression, including the arrest of many journalists. There are also signs of a marked increase in public floggings.

"As well as these recent developments, Amnesty International is concerned about underlying structural problems in the administration of justice in Iran, including the multiplicity of vaguely worded or contradictory laws that in practice severely restrict freedom of expression, the lack of independence of the judiciary and inhibitions on the functioning of defence lawyers," said Dick Oosting. "The cumulative effect is a seriously flawed administration of justice."

Amnesty International therefore urges that careful consideration be given to the way a human rights clause as part of an agreement with Iran could be given substance so as to encourage positive forces in that country. Ensuring observance of United Nations standards, especially through compliance with the instruments to which Iran is a State Party, and support for the relevant UN human rights mechanisms, should be at the heart of such efforts.

Amnesty International calls on the EU to maintain pressure for significant improvements in Iran’s human rights record, in line with EU efforts in the framework of the UN Commission on Human Rights and its most recent resolution on Iran.

Click to view the full text of Amnesty International’s letter addressed to the Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, Secretary-General of the Council and High Representative for CFSP, Javier Solana and the External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten.

For further comment/background and interviews:

Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):

Tel: 32-2-5021499

Fax: 32-2-5025686

Email: [email protected]