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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Iran rebukes EU on rights abuses
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Iran says the EU should not politicise human rights
Iran has lashed out at the EU, saying the 25-member bloc should solve its own human rights issues before criticising those of the Islamic Republic.

The comments come after the EU warned it was gravely concerned with human rights violations in Iran.

In a report, the EU said that little progress had been made in Iran, in spite of efforts to engage the country in dialogue.

In return, Iran condemned the EU for politicising the issue of human rights.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told state news agency Irna that the EU's criticism was unrealistic and "indicates the Union's inability to accept transparent dialogue".

"The European Union should learn from the chance of talks with an Islamic state with a rich cultural history and civilization," he is quoted as telling Irna.

Violations

An EU delegation in the Iranian capital for talks on human rights had urged Iran to release immediately 40 prisoners of conscience held in detention.

The delegation said it was worried by numerous and continued human rights violations.

These include:

  • The use of torture in prisons and other detention centres

  • A culture of impunity for perpetrators

  • The lack of an independent judiciary

  • The use of the death penalty

  • Reports of the continued use of amputations and other cruel punishments

  • A continuing campaign against journalists and intellectuals.

The EU's report was the result of a fourth round of talks, which began in December 2002, between the EU and Tehran.

Iran said the European Union had its own human rights problems, which include ignoring minorities' rights, discrimination against Muslims, Islamophobia and a lack of rights for refugees.

It also said that during talks, the EU had failed to pay attention to repeated human rights violations in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Progress

Despite the EU's stinging comments, the BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says that since the victory of the conservatives in Iran's controversial general elections in February, there have been signs of progress on human rights, at least superficially.

A law banning the use of torture has been approved and the judiciary chief has circulated instructions that proper procedures must be followed during arrests and detentions.

Progress on such issues, as well as terrorism and nuclear proliferation, are among the conditions for the possible signing of a trade and co-operation agreement between the EU and Iran.

A lack of progress in talks has been highlighted by international monitoring group Human Rights Watch, which also criticised Iran's judiciary.

In a recent report, the group said the situation in Iran was worse now than at any time since reformist Mohammad Khatami became president in 1997.

On Friday, Britain, France and Germany threw their weight behind a tough resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rebuking Iran for failing to co-operate fully with an inquiry into its nuclear activities.




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