British Prisoners in Iran

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:01 pm on 18th July 2017.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West 5:01 pm, 18th July 2017

Thank you, Mr Hollobone, for calling me to make my first speech in Westminster Hall. I also thank my hon. Friend Tulip Siddiq for securing the debate and introducing it in such a comprehensive manner.

I have received more than 100 emails from constituents about this matter, which shows that the cases of Nazanin and Kamal have touched the hearts of the nation. It is all too common for people to claim that a situation is Kafkaesque, but to me, as an avid reader of Kafka, the similarities between those cases and the case of Josef K. in “The Trial” are all too apparent. Kafka himself described the seeming basis of the Iranian judicial system when he wrote in “The Trial” that

“it’s characteristic of this judicial system that a man is condemned not only when he’s innocent but also in ignorance.”

Both Nazanin and Kamal were charged and convicted without adequate representation or due process—indeed, they were condemned in ignorance.

Like other hon. Members—particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Kilburn—I call upon the Foreign Secretary, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Minister to press the Iranian Government on a number of issues that my constituents, Amnesty International and I have raised. They should press them to allow Kamal and Nazanin any specialist medical care they may require; give Kamal access to his medical records; apply without discrimination article 58 of the Islamic penal code, which allows for someone to be conditionally released after serving a third of their prison sentence and would ensure the immediate release of Nazanin and Kamal; ensure that Kamal and Nazanin have regular access to a lawyer of their choice; allow them to be in contact with their families, including relatives abroad; and allow them to communicate with British consular officials—although that seems to be a contentious issue. I ask the Minister to respond to those points.

The United Kingdom has a well-deserved international reputation for its justice system. I hope that the Government will press for the most basic justice in Iran for our citizens, whether they are British citizens or dual citizens, and particularly for Kamal and Nazanin. It is clear from the contributions to this debate that that is completely and utterly lacking.