Human Rights (Iran)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:45 pm on 6th June 2006.

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Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Minister of State (Europe), Foreign & Commonwealth Office 12:45 pm, 6th June 2006

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He sets out the position sensibly and in a way that allows for progress. By highlighting the problems, we draw attention to how the Iranian Government should improve their record on human rights, but we must also acknowledge that the picture is not uniformly bad. There are areas where progress can be made—and indeed the benefit of this debate is that it allows us all to set out our concerns—but we acknowledge that in some areas there has been progress, although clearly far more work needs to be done.

In the recent past, under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, Iran seemed to be taking significant steps forward. I regret that that progress has slowed in recent years. Indeed, as we have discussed, in many areas Iran is, sadly, moving backwards. However, we should not devalue the efforts of those in Iran who are working for reforms. Their task is being made increasingly difficult.