EU extends Iran sanctions to judges, clerical council

AFP , Tuesday 21 Mar 2023

European ministers agreed on Monday to add eight Iranians and one of the Tehran government's most powerful bodies to EU sanctions lists, alleging human rights violations.

Ebrahim Raisi
In this photo released on Monday, March 20, 2023, by the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi gives a televised new year message to the nation at the presidency office in Tehran, Iran. Iranians celebrate their new year, known as Nowruz, on March 21, which coincides with the first day of the Spring. AP


The individuals -- including clerics, judges and a broadcaster -- are accused of playing leading roles in Iran's crackdown on anti-government protests.

The EU said it was in particular "sanctioning members of the judiciary responsible for handing down death sentences in unfair trials and for the torturing of convicts".

Brussels' latest listings bring to around 150 the number of individuals, companies and agencies targeted by EU asset freezes and travel bans over the crackdown.

Europe made the decision as UN expert Javaid Rehman told the United Nations Human Rights Councils that Iran's actions in the six months since protests erupted could amount to crimes against humanity.

Demonstrations erupted after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been accused by religious authorities of violating Iran's women's dress code.

The sanctions decision was made at a meeting of foreign and defence ministers in Brussels, as thousands of Iranian exiles protested outside in support of the uprising against the Tehran government.

The protesters, many of them supporters of the exiled opposition group the National Council of Resistance, demanded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be blacklisted as a terrorist group.

Some EU capitals are also pushing for this measure, which would target the paramilitary armed wing of Tehran's Islamic revolution, which is deeply embedded in the Iranian economy.

But European officials say it is proving complicated to demonstrate the legal basis for such a blanket designation of the entire group, as opposed to units or commanders involved in specific attacks.

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