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Human Rights in Iran—Economic Sanctions

Hon. Linda Frum: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Leader, sanctions are in place on Iran for a reason. Escalation of Canadian sanctions started in 2003 with the rape, torture and murder of Iranian Canadian photo journalist Zahra Kazemi by Iranian authorities. Iran imprisons, abuses, rapes and tortures innocent journalists, students and political dissidents simply for wanting freedom from tyranny.

Iran is a state sponsor of the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah.

Will the Liberal government commit to keeping the current economic sanctions regime on Iran in place? If not, will it commit to linking the lifting of Canadian economic sanctions with the advancement of human rights in Iran?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. The situation of human rights in Iran is of ongoing and high concern to the Government of Canada, especially at a time when, as the senator references, we see a rise in executions and restrictions on freedom of expression, the rights of women, and ethnic and religious minorities.

I am pleased to note that Canada led the UN resolution on the human rights situation in Iran, which was adopted at the UN General Assembly in December of last year, December 17. Canada continues to lead international efforts on this resolution for this fall and to work with like-minded countries with respect to ongoing pressure on Iran with respect to human rights performance.

Re-engaging Iran, in the government's view, is a way that we will be able to directly discuss our concerns with respect to human rights with Iranian authorities, and that remains a high priority for the Government of Canada in the days and months ahead.

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