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Iran: independent civil society organisations ignored over draft law on associations

EI and eight other human and labour rights organisations have expressed dismay at parliamentary proceedings in Iran intending to pass a law wiping out an independent civil society in the country.

This would be a clear violation of international standards on freedom of association and assembly, which Iran is obliged to uphold.

The nine organisations - a mix of international and national ones - Amnesty International, Arseh Sevom, EI, Hivos, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, as well as FIDH’s affiliate the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with the famous Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, called on Iranian MPs to reject the draft law.

Civil society organisations affected by the law range from human rights, environmental and women’s organisations, through charities and organisations for the disabled, to employers’ and professional associations such as EI member organisation, the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations. Political parties, trade unions and the Bar Association are regulated by different laws in Iran.

If approved, the Article 12 of the draft law on associations would prohibit all contact with international organisations without prior permission, including getting memberships in international organisations, participating in training sessions or meetings abroad, signing contracts or memoranda of understanding and receiving funds or other aid from international organisations.

EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, deplored: “The requirement that official permission must be obtained for any international contacts will undermine the right of professional associations like the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association to join international bodies such as ours.”

He also noted that “teachers have already faced harassment for attending EI conferences outside Iran and the Interior Ministry has sought to ban their associations.”

Van Leeuwen went on explaining that “this law will enable the Interior Ministry to interfere in the internal affairs, representation and professional matters, as well as international relations, of associations, and will place teachers’ representatives at even greater harassment and prosecution risk.”

The full union statement is available in English and Farsi.

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