This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on Iran, in particular the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh

Mr President, once again, we are forced to speak about human rights in Iran, after Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 11 years in jail. She is banned from practising law, but let us serve justice. The Rule of Law is no longer practised or existent in Iran, and the judiciary is highly politicised. Defending human rights is now considered an act against national security. Nasrin Sotoudeh, lawyer and mother of two, is charged with acting against national security. She defended, among others, Zahra Bahrami, an Iranian-Dutch citizen who was sentenced to death before Dutch diplomats had talked to her, and in a climate of serious doubts about due process. As strong a woman as Nasrin Sotoudeh is and was, by standing for justice, we see a weak regime that represses its citizens instead of providing for their wellbeing. High Representative Ashton will be in Istanbul later this month in an attempt to bring the Iranian regime to cooperate with the international community on the nuclear issue. Economic sanctions have the same aim. I doubt they will render the desired result before disproportionately hurting the people of Iran who, as a result, become more and more dependent on the hard-line government. However, while I am sceptical about the impact of economic sanctions, I am confident that sanctions against individuals responsible for violating human rights through, for example, censorship, rape, torture and executions, will be an effective and necessary step to end impunity and to honour the justice that Nasrin Sotoudeh stood for. Human rights are clearly the Achilles heel of the Iranian regime. Mr President, while I have the floor, may I ask you to encourage our Italian colleagues to be quiet because it is really distracting when they start speaking in the Chamber after their business has been dealt with.