Sommaire: EU Presidency Declaration on EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue (20 December 2005: Brussels)
Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue
1. At its General Affairs and External Relations Council on 12 December, the European Union reaffirmed that greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran is essential if there is to be progress in EU/Iran relations.
2. The EU is deeply concerned that the human rights situation in Iran has not improved in any significant respect in recent years, and in many respects has worsened. Use of the death penalty is frequent, including for minor crimes, and executions are often carried out in public. Iran executed more child offenders in 2005 than in any recent year. Freedom of expression is still severely restricted; censorship of the internet and press is widespread. Senior figures in the Iranian regime reported significant failings in the conduct of the Presidential election of June 2005, and the process for selecting candidates allowed to stand from the many who wished to was not democratic. We continue to receive reports of torture. Human rights defenders continue to report harassment and intimdation, and Iran continues to detain prisoners of conscience such as Akbar Ganji and his lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani. Iran's treatment of its religious and ethnic minorities is also of great concern. Whilst the EU recognises the limited efforts made by some authorities in Iran to improve the administration of justice, it remains deeply concerned at the lack of effective action to reform the laws, institutions and official practices that allow human rights violations to occur.
3. The EU established a Human Rights Dialogue with Iran in 2002. Four rounds of the Dialogue have been held, the most recent being in June 2004. In view of the disappointing results, the EU proposed a number of improvements to the process in 2004. Despite repeated efforts by the EU over the last year, including a visit to Tehran by the EU troika and many offers of dates for the fifth round, Iran has not agreed to a further round of the Dialogue.
4. Despite Iran's failure to engage constructively, the EU remains open to discussing human rights, including by means of the dialogue process. The EU calls on Iran to demonstrate through its actions a commitment to respect human rights. The EU hopes that Iran will also demonstrate a commitment to the Dialogue by agreeing to a future round of the Dialogue at the earliest possible date.
5. The EU will continue other efforts in parallel to express its human rights concerns. In particular, the EU will continue to discuss its concerns with the Iranian authorities on diplomatic channels; support debate in United Nations fora and the work of United Nations mechanisms; and raise public awareness of human rights violations and the institutional failings and practices that allow them to occur. The EU believes such efforts complement the Dialogue, they are not mutually exclusive. In the absence of an effective Dialogue, they are even more important.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process