Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (11, 12)

Olwyn Enright

Question:

9 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the recent condemnation of human rights violations in Iran at the United Nations General Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4262/04]

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Pádraic McCormack

Question:

51 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the use of capital punishment in Iran; if his attention has been drawn to reports that there has been an increasing number of public hangings and other barbaric punishments in Iran in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4257/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 51 together.

The human rights situation in Iran is of serious concern. I particularly deplore the practice of public executions and other unacceptable practices.

The General Affairs and External Relations Council last October outlined its deep concern regarding serious human rights violation in Iran. It specifically mentioned that the practice of public executions was to be particularly regretted. The Council is equally concerned at the continued use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

Ireland co-sponsored a resolution entitled "The situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran" at the UN third committee in December 2003. This resolution called on the Islamic government of Iran to abide by its obligations under the international covenants on human rights and other international human rights instruments. These obligations include those related to freedom of opinion and expression, the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, and the promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls. The resolution also called on Iran to continue its efforts to consolidate respect for human rights and the rule of law. The resolution was passed by 73 votes to 49, with 50 abstaining. All EU member and accession states supported the resolution, with the exception of Cyprus which abstained.

The EU is also engaged in a human rights dialogue with Iran through which we pursue improvements in the human rights situation. The third round of the dialogue was held in Brussels in October and we hope to agree dates for the next round during our Presidency.