EP plenary: The situation in Iran, in particular the poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls

15.03.2023 EEAS Press Team

Speech delivered by Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, on behalf of High-Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell

Check against delivery! 

I want to thank  this House for its continued close attention to the worrying internal situation in Iran.

The nationwide unrests following the death of Mahsa Amini have decreased substantially. But, the root causes of social unrest are still there and are not being seriously addressed by the Iranian authorities.

There is a serious concern about the fast-track trials and the harsh sentences, including death sentences, handed down against protesters. The death penalty is an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity and the European Union aims at its universal abolition.

The European Union and its Member States have been quick to condemn and react to the Iranian authorities’ handling of the protests and continue to respond to any issue of concern from Iran. Human rights and fundamental freedoms must be respected in all circumstances.

The European Union is closely monitoring the ongoing pardoning of Iranian convicts and detainees, including those unjustly arrested in the context of the protests. We expect Iran to make good use of this opportunity.

Iran has been on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) for the past 6 months: 5 packages of targeted restrictive measures have been adopted so far. And this approach will continue as long as necessary in line with the Council Conclusions adopted in December, which define the EU’s policy approach towards Iran.

The countrywide poisoning of Iranian students, mostly female students, including schoolchildren, is a further cause for concern. We express our solidarity with the students victims of the poisonings and their families. Many aspects still need to be clarified, including who is behind this new series of attacks and what the motive is. We are following reports of arrests made in recent days and expect Iran to conduct a proper and transparent investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable in full respect of the due process rights of the accused individuals.

In line with the Council conclusions supported by all Member States, keeping channels of communication open with Iran continues to be crucial in order to address as appropriate the multiple challenges posed by Iran, ranging from human rights to the nuclear dimension and the JCPOA, to the unacceptable military cooperation with Russia.

The High-Representative/Vice-President [Josep Borrell] and the EU Foreign Ministers will continue to take stock at the next Foreign Affairs Council, and I can assure you that they will continue to show zero tolerance towards abuses and human rights violations.

Thank you. 
Link to the video (starting from 29:25): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-238136  

Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0)460 75 45 53
Gioia Franchellucci
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 229-68041