Re: Release from Javia Solana's office, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union.
On Tuesday the European Union resumed its human rights dialogue with Iran in a meeting between the European Council and
Iranian representatives. While praising the Iranian side's openess and the diversity of views expressed by their
delegation, the Council remains deeply concerned that serious violations of human rights are continuing to occur in
Iran, with the situation in regard to freedom of opinion, expression and the press still deeply troubling.
Please see the attachment for the official Council document on the dialogue.
General Affairs and External Relations Council 13/14 October 2003
Conclusions on Human rights - Iran
1. The Council, recalling its 17 June 2002, 21 October 2002, 18 March 2003 and 21 July 2003 conclusions, considered the
developments in the EU-Iran human rights dialogue in the light of the human rights situation in Iran at the start of the
Third Committee of the 58th UN General Assembly ("UNGA 58").
2. The Council reaffirmed that the human rights dialogue with Iran, the third round of which was held on 8-9 October
2003, is one of the means by which the EU can work to improve the human rights situation in the country. As the Council
has recalled on previous occasions, this dialogue is an acceptable option only if sufficient progress is achieved and
reflected on the ground. The Council welcomed the frank and constructive atmosphere that prevailed during the third
round of the dialogue. The roundtable, with civil society participation from Iran and the EU, focused this time on the
themes of freedom of opinion and expression and the right to development, whilst all issues of concern to the EU
regarding the human rights situation in Iran were addressed during the subsequent officials-only talks. The Council was
encouraged by the openness and diversity of views expressed within the Iranian delegation and the information provided
about certain positive developments during both meetings, and trusts that this will be allowed to bear fruit in the near
future. It also welcomed the fact that the Iranian side provided information regarding individual cases that the EU had
requested. The Council looks forward to the next round of the dialogue in Tehran, to be held as agreed without
restrictions on the membership of either delegation. It further decided that a review of the EU Iran human rights
dialogue should be carried out along the lines envisioned in the European Union guidelines on human rights dialogues
3. The Council recalls the commitment expressed by the government of Iran to strengthen respect for human rights in the
country and to promote the rule of law. The Council remains deeply concerned however that, despite such a commitment,
serious violations of human rights are continuing to occur in Iran. The situation with regard to freedom of opinion and
expression continues to be deeply troubling, especially on the eve of the Parliamentary elections which will take place
at the beginning of next year. The Council considers that this is a crucial point for the credibility of the upcoming
elections. The Council in its July conclusions called for rapid progress in this field, in light of the arrests of
students, journalists and others during recent student demonstrations. Since then, the Council has learned of further
cases of arbitrary detention of persons for no reason other than the peaceful expression of their beliefs. The Council,
whilst noting the recent release of certain individuals, reiterates the need for further urgent action by the Iranian
authorities in this regard, including the rapid release of all persons detained for having exercised their right to
freedom of expression.
4. The Council recalls once more its longstanding and firm position against the use of the death penalty. The Council
continues to be seriously concerned about executions being carried out in Iran in apparent absence of respect for
internationally recognised safeguards. The practice of public executions is particularly to be regretted. The Council is
equally concerned by the continued use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment in Iran. In
that respect, the Council takes note with great concern that despite the recommendation by the Head of the Judiciary to
judges to opt for alternative punishment in cases where the sentence of amputation would otherwise be imposed, cases of
amputation have nevertheless been reported since. The Council encourages the Iranian authorities to take appropriate
steps in order to ensure that the recommendation is given full effect. The Council reiterated that a similar
recommendation which has been issued regarding alternatives to the sentence of death by stoning is only a first step
towards abolition of this practice, and urged the Iranian authorities to establish a moratorium on all executions with a
view to their eventual abolition. The Council recalled in July the Iranian government's obligations under international
law to investigate promptly and prosecute those responsible for the violent death in custody of photojournalist Zahra
Kazemi. Whilst noting that in the meantime proceedings have started in connection with her case, the Council adds its
voice to those within Iran who are calling for a fully empowered, independent and impartial investigation into all
aspects of the case, including the role of the office of the Chief Prosecutor for Tehran. The Council moreover deeply
regrets the rejection by the Guardians' Council not only of the Majlis' revised draft bill implementing the prohibition
on torture laid down in Article 38 of the Iranian Constitution, but also of the Majlis' draft bill permitting Iran to
accede to the UN Convention against Torture. The Council trusts that, if reconsideration and acceptance by the
Guardians' Council is not possible in either case, the Expediency Council will allow these measures to become law.
5. The Council once again urges the government of Iran to speed up the process of reform of the system of administration
of justice in Iran. In this regard, the Council trusts that the Iranian government will implement as soon as possible
the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published in June this year. The continued violations
of the human rights of women, and the discrimination, in law and in practice, against women and girls, are again noted
with concern by the Council. It is a matter of deep regret that the Guardians Council has rejected the Majlis' draft
legislation permitting Iran to accede to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against
Women. The Council is moreover concerned at continued violations of the right to freedom of religion, particularly in
relation to Baha’is, whose faith is not recognised by the Constitution and who face serious discrimination particularly
in relation to education, property rights and employment The Council urges the Iranian Government to comply with the
recommendations made in August this year by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
6. The visits of the thematic special procedures of the UN Commission on Human Rights ("CHR") represent an important
step towards improvement in the protection and promotion of human rights in Iran, provided that their recommendations
are implemented. As the Council stated in March, the Iranian government's standing invitation to these thematic special
procedures is welcome, as is its engagement in unconditional dialogue on human rights with, inter alia, the EU. The
Council notes with satisfaction that a visit to Iran by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has been
arranged for November 2003, and that discussions are underway to agree a date for a visit by the Working Group on
Enforced Disappearances during the first half of 2004. It is to be hoped that full co-operation will be extended to
these special procedures and that visits by others will be arranged in the near future. The Council meanwhile welcomed
the efforts pursued by the Majlis and its "Article 90 Commission", as well as the Islamic Human Rights Commission, to
enhance the human rights situation in Iran. In this regard, the Council warmly congratulated Ms Shirin Ebadi, the
eminent Iranian lawyer and human rights defender, on being awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
7. The Council further reaffirmed its position of principle whereby the establishment of a dialogue is without prejudice
to the tabling or co-sponsoring of a resolution at the Third Committee of the 58th session of the United Nations General
Assembly or the 60th session of the Commission on Human Rights. Whilst welcoming the Iranian engagement in co-operation
with the UN mechanisms and in the human rights dialogue, as well as the stated commitment by Iran to strengthen respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote the rule of law, the Council will convey its serious concern
about the continuing violations of human rights in Iran and the lack of progress in a number of key areas.
8. The EU will return to the matter in the light of developments in the situation of human rights in Iran.