Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Iran, in particular the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh

Delivered in Plenary - 20th January 2011

Mr President

We should never forget in this House that the freedom to debate and dissent that we so much enjoy in Europe is scarce and non-existent in many parts of the world. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Iran.

Yet again in this House we find ourselves discussing the appalling human rights situation in that Islamic Republic. As a lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh has helped many opposition supporters who were detained and harassed following the rigged presidential election 18 months ago. She has also represented minors on death row, truly a heroic job in a country that executes children with alacrity. She was arrested in September last year on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. Now she has been sentenced to 11 years in prison and banned from practising law for 20 years.

She should be released immediately and unconditionally. I call upon the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to make that point.

Parliament and Commission have been resolute in highlighting the human rights abuses of the brutal – almost disgusting – Ahmadinejad regime. It is time that the Council put the EU’s common values ahead of Member States’ individual commercial interests in that country.