Iran-EU relations have proved rocky in recent years due to the country’s continuing human rights violations. Parliament has repeatedly called for more action.
Additional EU sanctions under discussion
Massive protests erupted in Iran in the wake of Mahsa Amini dying in police custody in September 2022 after allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly. The government launched a violent crackdown, arresting protesters and shutting down social media.
The EU is considering imposing additional sanctions against the regime because of the widespread and disproportionate use of force against protesters.
In response to the latest developments, on 19 January 2023 Parliament called for more sanctions against the Iranian regime, saying that all those responsible for human rights violations should face EU sanctions, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps should be on the EU terrorist list.
The European Parliament has been following the human rights situation closely in Iran. In recent years it has adopted various resolutions to call attention to the situation of people who are both EU and Iran citizens being held in prison; those of human rights defenders, such as Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2012; and that of women’s rights defenders. MEPs also criticised the violent crackdown on anti-government protests and condemned the use of the death penalty in the country.
EU response to human rights violations in Iran over the years
Relations with Iran have proved problematic ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, which led among others to women’s rights being restricted in the country and the human rights situation deteriorating over the years.
The EU has been concerned about the situation for years and imposed targeted sanctions in 2011 in response to serious human rights violations in the country. Additional restrictive measures were imposed in March 2012, which have been extended every year since then.
The EU was instrumental in reaching an agreement with Iran in 2015 to prevent it developing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions being lifted. This stalled in 2018 after the US withdrew from the deal.
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