Open Letter to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union

Press release

Re : EU position on Iran at the United Nations General Assembly


The European Union is presently considering whether to initiate a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the Human Rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such discussion is taking place parallel to the initiation of a Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation, the Iranian League for Human Rights (LDDHI) would like to first take this opportunity to thank your past commitments in resorting to publicly assess the Human rights situation in this country, via the call for a Special Rapporteur on the situation in Iran, through the initiation of a resolution passed bi-annually at the Human Rights Commission and at the UNGA.

Such resolution has indeed enabled, since 1984, to obtain an independent monitoring and regular reporting mecanism on the Human Rights situation in Iran, which has been extremely usefull to breach the isolation of Human rights defenders in particular, of the Iranian society in general. With the accession to power of President Khatami, it enabled governments to engage in dialogues on specific topics, on the basis of objectively and officially established facts.

Such mechanism is still needed, particularly at the time when the EU undertakes its own dialogue with the Islamic republic of Iran. Indeed, together with the LDDHI, an organisation still prohibited from operating in its own country, the FIDH is worried about the following :
- death penalty is implemented for a wide range of ordinary crimes and crimes of opinion ( including cross-religious fornication, outside marriage fornication for the fourth time, homosexuality, consumption of alcohol for the third time, blasphemy, etc.). Death penalty is also carried out for crimes committed by minors and is inflicted by public hanging, beheading and stoning.
- Torture remains widespread in detention places in Iran. Inhuman punishments are imposed in public for moral offences (adultery, etc). Those inhuman treatments include flogging and amputation (art. 201 of the Islamic criminal Code).
- Minorities are in a particularly preoccupying situation. Christian, Baha’i and sometimes Sunni minorities are victims of discrimination in the fields of, inter alia, access to higher education (secondary schools and universities), confiscation of properties or religious buildings, imprisonment and restrictions on freedom of movement. Recently, members of the Kurd minority were arbitrarily executed
- The judiciary lacks totally independence,
- Human Rights defenders, lawyers and journalists are seriously under attack, which is symptomatic of the very serious violations of the freedom of expression in Iran.
- Women are strongly discriminated in the legislation, patriarchal attitudes remain very much in resistance, domestic violence, which is widespread, remains unpunished.

While the FIDH and the LDDHI we appreciate the efforts of the EU to engage in an open dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran, both organisations would like to insist that Human Rights dialogues should go in pair with a transparent and independent tool of monitoring and evaluation of the human rights situation. To this end, the FIDH believes that the EU should, while developing its dialogue on the one hand, initiate in both the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the UN General Assembly (GA), resolutions on the situation of Human rights in Iran, which ask, at the CHR, for the appropriate monitoring mechanism of a Special Rapporteur.

Such an assessment is essential in the undertaking of a workable dialogue, in order to evaluate objectively the evolutions achieved. The transparency in the monitoring of the evolutions remains unconditional, for the benefit of the Iranian civil society at large, and of its human rights defenders in particular. Finally, such an initiative fully corresponds to the mandate entrusted with the EU member states sitting at the UN CHR and at the UN GA.

Therefore, the FIDH and the LDDHI urge the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers to address the important issues raised in the present letter on the occasion of the General Affairs Council on Monday October 21st.

Sincerely yours,

Sidiki Kaba

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