British Prisoners in Iran

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:57 pm on 18th July 2017.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 4:57 pm, 18th July 2017

I congratulate Tulip Siddiq on putting a very good case forward. When I consider international issues, there is a phrase that resounds in my heart: evil triumphs when good people do nothing. We cannot fix the world’s problems, but I believe that we have a role to play in this case and that we can bring about change.

Nazanin Ratcliffe has been jailed for five years under secret charges and is being held in solitary confinement. In September 2016, the Foreign Secretary said that the “upgrade in diplomatic relations” between the UK and Iran would provide an opportunity to raise consular cases

“about which I am deeply concerned”.

Will the Minister further outline how he believes that our recently restored diplomatic ties have enabled us to influence such matters?

May I also put a marker down for Kamal Foroughi, who has been arrested and kept in solitary confinement in Iran for six years after being convicted of spurious charges? Iran has been desperately hard on him and in detaining British citizens and denying them their basic rights.

Iran executed some 977 people in 2015 and an estimated one per day in 2016. The regime continues to execute juvenile offenders, in violation of international law. If there are human rights abuses, this is a country that does them with a vengeance. It executed 73 juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2015, and girls are held criminally accountable from the age of nine. The Government deem them to have reached puberty at that age, compared with 15 for boys. I ask this question again: where are the human rights in Iran, given what it does to young children from the age of nine? The nuclear deal failed to address a number of critical issues. I respect the Minister greatly, as he knows, but I ask him that question again given Iran’s human rights abuses and the fact that it gave Hezbollah, which controls Lebanon, rocket factories. These are deep issues that we are all concerned about. The human rights abuse in Iran is despicable, and young people of all ages are held in little regard. I look forward to the Minister’s response.