European legislation must not undermine efforts to stop Iran’s state terrorism
The Belgian Parliament is soon to vote on a government bill regarding the transfer of prisoners between Belgium and Iran. If adopted the bill will allow Iranian citizens convicted of crimes in Belgium to serve their sentences in Iran.
This would potentially mean that the Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, and his three Iranian accomplices, who are currently serving long-term prison sentences in Belgium for terrorism, could be released into Iranian custody to serve their remaining sentences in Iran.
This is tantamount to releasing these convicted terrorists and allowing them to escape justice given the well-documented reputation of Iran’s Judiciary to grant and uphold impunity for regime officials for serious crimes, recently expressed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran.
Furthermore, releasing Assadi under any pretext will be a major blow to the efforts to combat and counter Iran’s state terrorism on European soil and undermine the counterterrorism cooperation which led to Assadi’s arrest and conviction.
Assadi and his accomplices planned to bomb the gathering of Iran’s organised pro-democracy opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in Paris in June 2018 targeting the opposition leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and many European parliamentarians including several British MPs who attended the conference in Paris together with 100,000 people to support a free and democratic Iran.
The regime in Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is known to misuse its diplomats, embassies and diplomatic missions to facilitate and carry out acts of terrorism, as proven by the conviction of Assadi.
Today, our efforts today must focus on ending impunity in Iran and securing accountability, as called for by the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran to hold the regime to account for its systematic human rights abuses and terrorism. The bill proposed by the Belgian Government and considered in the Belgian Parliament is, therefore, a step in the opposite direction.
The British Committee for Iran Freedom expresses serious concerns about this bill and join the Iranian communities in the UK and Europe to urge the Belgian Parliament to reject this bill.
Furthermore, we also back their call on the Belgian Government to withdraw this bill, which not only undermines European efforts to counter-terrorism but also lends undeserved legitimacy to the brutal judiciary in Iran which is an essential instrument for the regime’s domestic repression.
Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool
Independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords 1 July 2022
PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE BRITISH COMMITTEE FOR IRAN FREEDOM ARE AS FOLLOWS:
The Rt Hon David Jones MP, President
The Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC, Co-President and HMG Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation (2001 – 2011)
Prof. the Lord Alton of Liverpool, Co-President
Dr. Matthew Offord MP, Co-President
Steve McCabe MP, Co-President and former Shadow Minister and Opposition Whip
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Boothroyd OM, former Speaker of the House of Commons
The Baroness Verma, former Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) and Parliamentary Undersecretary (Department for International Development)
The Baroness Harris of Richmond DL, Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords
The Rt Hon. the Lord Dholakia OBE DL, Co-Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Peers and former Party Chair
The Rt Rev. the Lord Harries of Pentregarth DD, former Bishop of Oxford
The Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights
The Lord McInnes of Kilwinning CBE, Director of Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party
The Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE
The Baroness Masham of Ilton DL
The Baroness Redfern
The Lord Inglewood MRICS
The Lord Roberts of Llandudno
The Lord Turnberg
The Lord Cotter
Rt Hon Sir Roger Gale MP, former Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party
Rt Hon John Spellar MP, former Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) and former Deputy Chief Whip
Bob Blackman MP
Martin Vickers MP
John Cryer MP
Ian Mearns MP
Jim Shannon MP