MEP Zovko: “The European Parliament is constituted to protect all European citizens, wherever they are.”

Strasbourg, 19 September

MEP Zeljana Zovko has been appointed as EPP negotiator on the resolution regarding the situation of women’s right defenders and imprisoned EU dual nationals in Iran. On Thursday 19 September, she addressed the plenary session to express her concerns and to call upon the other members to join her and to deliver a strong message to the Iranian authorities.

Iran continues to criminalise human rights activism. Journalists, lawyers and peaceful activists are constantly facing harassment, arrests and prosecution for their peaceful work. With this resolution, the European parliament is urging Iran to suppress all those sentences and to, immediately and unconditionally, release all women rights defenders and all EU-Iran dual nationals who are arbitrarily detained. These persons have been arrested based on vague or unspecified charges and sentenced without a fair trial.

MEP Zovko reminded her colleagues that the European Parliament is a democratic body that represents those imprisoned European citizens. The members have a moral duty to support those imprisoned persons and to react in a resolute manner. “This house is constituted to protect all European citizens, wherever they are.”

To emphasise the gravity of the situation, MEP Zovko also gives mentions the case of three convicted Iranian women. They appeared in a video while protesting peacefully against the compulsory wearing of veils and advocated for a woman’s right to choose whether to wear the hijab or not. The three women have been sentenced with 16 and 23 years of imprisonment. The authorities reasoned that they were acting against national security and promoted moral corruption and prostitution.

This case is a clear example of an extremely disproportionate punishment. Secondly, those women were arrested, although they were solely exercising their right of freedom of expression, one of the core rights of every human being.

Iran is one of the founding states of the United Nations and has ratified multiple legally binding treaties under international law focussing on the respect for human rights. However, reality shows that they do not respect these obligations. MEP Zovko stresses that the Parliament needs to urge the Iranian authorities to halt their repressive actions and to implement the internationally agreed standards.

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