Bringing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe home

Many of my constituents have written in about the very important business of bringing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe home.

Human rights abuses cannot go unchallenged, and it is important to take a stand in support of those facing persecution, detention, and torture.

I am very concerned that it is well over five years since Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned by the Iranian Government.  Furthermore, in April 2021, Nazanin was sentenced to a further year in prison and a year’s travel ban.

I am alarmed at reports that Nazanin is being held because of the failure of the UK to pay a longstanding debt.  That is why Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliff, undertook a 21-day hunger strike and demonstration outside the Foreign Office last December.  Many colleagues and I visited and spoke with him there.

Amnesty International UK argues that “it’s long past time that the UK finally brought this deeply distressing episode to an end”.  I share this concern and am worried that, so far, the Government does not appear to have done anything to resolve this and urge them to do so now.

On the outstanding debt to Iran of £400m, I made my position clear in parliament when Nazanin’s situation was last debated in November: 
“… the debt is owed and must be paid. If this country wants respect for behaving in the proper manner, the debt should be paid. It is not a negotiation; it is saying “This money is owed. Let’s pay it.” I believe that would help to unlock a lot of things and help to open up a serious human rights dialogue with Iran in the future, which is necessary. …”

I continued: 
“I want to see decent human rights everywhere around the world, and that obviously includes Iran. The people of Iran deserve that. We should do everything we can to ensure that happens. I hope the Minister can unlock this—maybe not completely today but I hope it can be unlocked—and that he will have got the message of the strength of feeling, from everybody across our House, for her release.”

I believe strongly in upholding fundamental human rights, as laid out by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and will continue to make a great deal of noise about this, in Parliament and elsewhere.