Re : EU/Iran human rights dialogue - third session

15/09/2003
Report

Dear Members of the Cohom,
The present briefing note has been elaborated in view of the third session of the EU/Iran Human
Rights dialogue. That session was supposed to take place in Tehran on 15 and 16 September. It has
been postponed at the moment, at the request of the EU, apparently because of the opposition of the
Islamic Republic of Iran to the participation of certain international NGOs.

The FIDH wishes however to transmit you the present contribution (also made public) in order to
show the absence of progress with regard to the situation of human rights in Iran, since the inception
of the dialogue one year ago.

In advance of the decision by the EU to engage in a human rights dialogue with Iran, the FIDH
transmitted a note to the EU stressing the main human rights issues1. The FIDH considers that the
flaws raised one year ago are still valid : no significant progress have been accomplished with regard
to the death penalty and other inhuman and degrading treatments, the status of ethnic and religious
minorities, the unfair trials, the repression of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists and
women rights.

However, the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention has been able to visit Iran last February and
the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination examined the situation in Iran last
August. The FIDH welcomes cooperation by Iran with those two mechanisms but insists on the
necessity to implement their recommendations in order to make such a cooperation meaningful.

The present note will focus on freedom of expression since it was the theme retained, along with the
right to development, for the third session of the EU/Iran human rights dialogue. In addition, freedom
of expression is an excellent barometer of the human rights situation more generally.

The FIDH believes that the lack of progress on the ground, as evidenced in the note below, points to
the necessity of making sure that certain conditions are gathered when the third session of the
dialogue will take place. The FIDH would recommend that the EU make every effort to ensure
participation by representatives from the Judiciary, the Council of Guardians and the office of the
Supreme Leader, which are the institutions where power really rests in Iran, as demonstrated by the
latest developments.

The FIDH would also recommend that participation by international and Iranian effectively
independent NGOs be ensured. Eventually, the third roundtable should be the occasion for the EU to
follow-up the commitments made by the Iranian side on the occasion of the two preceding roundtable.
This concerns in particular ratification of CEDAW and CAT, adoption of the law prohibiting torture,
cooperation with UN mechanisms (including implementation of their recommendations) and the issue
of corporal punishments. Eventually, the FIDH believes that the Council should present a public and
periodic assessment of the dialogue, including before the European Parliament.

In addition, the FIDH recalls that the dialogue is not an alternative to public scrutiny, notably on the
occasion of the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly. This has been
repeatedly affirmed by the EU2, and it has been recently recalled by the European Parliament3. Public
condemnation by the international community of human rights violations in Iran is a very important
support for Iranian human rights defenders and reformist elements in the country. A public and
objective assessment of the human rights situation in Iran by the UN is a key element to feed the
EU/Iran human rights dialogue.

The FIDH therefore calls the EU to table a resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran on the
occasion of the next General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, in December.

We hope that you will take the present submission into consideration when you will be discussing the
EU initiatives at the UNGA, and meanwhile remain,
Sincerely yours

Sidiki Kaba
President

Karim Lahidji
Vice-president

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