Postponement of the Human Rights Dialogue : Call to the European Union

15/09/2003
Report
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The FIDH and the LDDHI have been informed of the postponement of the third session of the EU/Iran human rights dialogue, which was supposed to take place in Tehran on 15 and 16 September.

It seems that the postponement has been requested by the EU because of the refusal by the Iranian authorities to allow participation by certain international NGOs.

The The FIDH and the LDDHI have participated in the two first sessions of the dialogue and had decided to go to Tehran for the third session, in spite of its strong reservations concerning the results of the two first round-tables.

The FIDH and the LDDHI regretted that the more sensitive issues, as corporal punishments and discrimination against religious minorities, were not really addressed during the first round-table (December 2002 - see http://www.fidh.org/communiq/2002/ir1912a.htm). It deplored as well the restrictions concerning participation by international and Iranian independent NGOs.

Those reservations were confirmed after the second session (March 2003 - see http://www.fidh.org/communiq/2003/ir2403f.htm) : it was mainly limited to academic exchanges of view, substantive questions were only incidentally addressed and there was no follow-up with regard to the commitments made by Iran at the first round-table.

Since the launching of the dialogue, the human rights situation in Iran did not improve. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention went to Iran last February. Its conclusions and recommendations are clear in that regard. None of them were implemented up to now. The same is true with regard to the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which examined the situation in Iran last August. The visits in Iran by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of expression and Violence against women as well as of the Working Group on enforced disappearances did not take place yet.

The law prohibiting torture has not been adopted, the Conventions against torture and on discrimination against women have not been ratified, torture is still widespread, the moratorium on death by stoning has not been officially confirmed, other corporal punishments are still in force (flogging and amputation) and violations of freedom of expression are worse than ever.

In view of that context, The FIDH and the LDDHI consider that the third session of the EU/Iran human rights dialogue will only be credible if certain guarantees are gathered :
- ensure participation by international and Iranian independent NGOs
- ensure the presence of representatives of the judiciary, the Council of Guardians and the Office of the Supreme Leader, institutions where power really rests
- ensure a follow-up with regard to Iran’s commitments at the preceding round-tables, notably regarding ratification of international instruments, prohibition of torture, cooperation with UN mechanisms and corporal punishments
- present a public and periodic assessment of the dialogue, including before the European Parliament.

The FIDH and the LDDHI recall that the dialogue should not be considered as an alternative to the UN human rights mechanisms, but should on the contrary accompany them. The FIDH and the LDDHI reiterate their strong conviction that public condemnation by the international community of human rights violations in Iran represents a very important support for human rights defenders in the country and reformist elements. The public and objective evaluation by the UN of the human rights situation in Iran is crucial to feed the human rights dialogue.

The FIDH and the LDDHI consequently call on the EU to draw the consequences of the evolution of the situation in Iran, of the current blocking of the dialogue and of the absence of any tangible result of the two first sessions by tabling a resolution on human rights in Iran at the UN General Assembly, in December.

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