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Thursday, 28 October 2004 - Strasbourg OJ edition


  Beer (Verts/ALE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we are discussing the human rights situation in Iran for the first time since the recent elections to this House. This debate has been prompted by deep concern at the deterioration of the situation, a concern echoed by the Council in October.

It would appear that the increasing number of reports of death sentences being imposed is only the tip of the iceberg. Scarcely any opportunities remain for us to really monitor what is happening. Four months after the parliamentary elections in Iran, we are faced with a situation in which a deliberate clampdown is being implemented against the small freedoms won and the progress achieved over recent years, such as freedom of movement for women, journalists, pupils and students, and in which the Iranian parliament systematically rejects government bills seeking to improve the rule of law, such as those relating to gender equality.

In this context, I should like to stress that announcements of expected improvements – and we have received a great many letters from Iran’s Ambassador to Brussels too – are not enough on their own. It is true that all progress, no matter how small, towards improving the human rights situation for those affected and those in danger is to be welcomed, but, to be quite frank, I must say that I find it far from satisfactory for a government bill on the suspension of stonings merely to be announced.

We must fight to ensure that stonings are not merely suspended but actually outlawed. In my opinion, statements that the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis, has been presented with a bill on suspending the death sentence for juveniles do not go far enough. After all, this means that in general the death sentence will continue to be legitimate and legal, and that cannot be the position adopted by this House. In this case as well, therefore, we welcome progress, but as yet this progress hardly corresponds to our ideas of democracy and the rule of law.

This parliamentary term has seen the European Parliament, for the first time in its history, set up an interparliamentary delegation for relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite the deterioration in the human rights situation, or rather precisely because of it, we have set up and supported this delegation. We in this House seek to make use of the few instruments available to us to provide help and to build contacts with the Iranian parliament. The Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance has assumed the chairmanship of this delegation, and despite all the problems I look forward to the cooperation between this House and the Majlis. We must endeavour to move dialogue forward so that those who fight as democrats in Iran hear a strong voice of support from Europe.

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