Mr President, where to start? The nuclear dossier dominates our political agendas and campaign rhetoric, but let us never forget the ongoing human rights violations in Iran. These are always important, but especially with regard to the upcoming elections in spring of next year. With opposition candidates in de facto imprisonment, the ongoing crackdown on citizens, women’s rights, free speech, media online and offline, torture and rape in prisons and the execution rate higher than it has ever been – higher than in China – including juveniles, the situation is very, very dire.
In light of all these atrocities, we may wonder what we can do to help the brave Iranians. The future of Iran lies in the hands of the Iranian people and I am confident that they will prevail, but even with EU and UN sanctions in place, EU-based ICT companies continue to provide spyware, surveillance, monitoring, tracking and tracing technologies and know-how to those in power in Iran.
We must end the facilitation of censorship, the hampering of press freedom and access to information, and the crackdown on people facilitated by EU-based companies. Dual use regulations are not enough: we need EU-wide standards, licensing before trade and, most importantly, mechanisms to forge transparency and accountability to ensure that EU-based ICT companies do not undermine the EU’s strategic interests and, most importantly, the human rights of Iranian people.